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Kinabatangan River

29 July 2014, Malaysian Borneo

Proboscis monkeys leapt, climbed and basked above
Proboscis monkeys leapt, climbed and basked above

Dear Friends and Family,

Selamat Hari Raya!  Happy (end of) Ramadan!

We last wrote from the NE corner of Borneo.  Since then we've sailed SE through the (many) coral islands, often stopping at one for lunch (and a swim over the colorful coral in the clear water) and then spending the night at anchorages closer to mainland Borneo.

We ended up skipping the town of Sandakan.  We'd arranged to have some prescription glasses sent from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan, but Ramadan interfered and the glasses weren't ready in time, so they're now being sent further down the coast to Tawau, where we should be in about 10 days.  So although we're running a bit short of fruits and veggies, skipping Sandakan let us spend more time up the Kinabatangan River, just SE of Sandakan.

Motoring up the Kinabatangan River with Colin
Motoring up the Kinabatangan River with Colin

We've been having a ton of fun up the Kinabatangan River.  The river winds through thick jungle, which is inhabited by many wild animals and almost no people.  When we stop for the night, we'll take Tomcat, our dinghy, to explore tributaries and oxbow lakes (formed when the river changed its course).  As in Africa, game viewing is usually best at dawn and dusk, as most animals are pretty sedentary in the heat of the day.

Now that we're as far up the river as we can go (power lines crossing the river are too low for our mast) we've also taken tours from some of the eco‑lodges nearby, as they seem to spot the wildlife long before we do.

Just today we've seen 2 crocodiles (1 swimming, which we almost ran over, and 1 basking on shore), several families of Proboscis monkey, long‑tailed Macaques, pig‑tailed Macaques, Red Langur, several big horn‑bills, several eagles and/or kites, colorful kingfishers, and we spent over an hour watching a herd of about 80 pygmy elephants playing next to and swimming in the river!  There were several babies in the herd - they were (of course) TOO cute!

Africa? No! Pygmy Asian Elephants on the river.
Africa? No! Pygmy Asian Elephants on the river.

Over the next few days we'll be working our way back down the Kinabatangan River.  The delta extends for 10‑15 miles, and we entered one of the northern legs, but we'll leave via one of the southern legs.

At the exit bay, we'll join up with the other "Rally to the East" boats for the trip around the easternmost corner of Borneo.  Because of the recent insurgent activity here, we'll have close military coverage for the rest of our time in Malaysia, until we get down to Indonesian Borneo.

Towns (and therefore cell towers) are pretty thin in this area, so we may be off the internet for a few days until we reach Lahad Datu on 4 Aug (where Colin will fly home from) but we should be able to update our position tracking map at the bottom of our homepage as we can do that over the radio.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas -- Jon, Sue, and Colin Hacking

Malaysia Letters: Up | Leaving Borneo | Kinabatangan River | Top of Borneo | South China Sea | Malaysian Interior | On the S China Sea | Brunei to Kuching | Mt. Kinabalu | Heading East | Singapore to Borneo | Malaysia Arrival | Weh Island | Perfect Day | Bountiful Sea | Half Weh | Crossing the Indian | Return to SE Asia | Straits of Malacca

Related Pages: Malaysia Home | Malay Newsletters | SE Asia Flora/Fauna | Cruising Malaysia

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