From Kuching, we moved to the village of Damai (less than an hour drive) to stay in a cabin in the trees at Permai Rainforest Resort . The resort is the real deal. It’s located right in pristine Bornean rainforest so you are sharing the resort with all kinds of wildlife: monkeys (macaques, silver leaf and proboscis), river monitors, snakes, birds, flying lemurs, and of course all kinds of insects and lizards. The resort faces the South China Sea where the Irrawaddy dolphin can be found. And just a few minutes boat ride away is the mangrove forest of Kuching Wetlands National Park, home to crocodiles and the endangered proboscis monkey. The resort’s accommodations include numerous cabins, ten treehouses and one campground and they are all by no means fancy but they offer a rustic comfort in spectacular surroundings.
Looking at the resort from the South China Sea (you can see a bit of treehouse #2 and #3 peaking out at centre left).
One of the cabins
Our treehouse (#10)
View from restaurant
Natural jungle pool
One of two private beaches at the resort
Sunset at the beach
The resort also offers a multitude of activities that we took full advantage during our three-night stay. We signed up for a night walk in the forest, a daytime boat trip that included dolphin watching, a visit to a turtle hatchery and snorkelling and an evening boat cruise to the mangroves of Kuching Wetlands National Park.
During our night walk we saw numerous insects and lizards including giant stick insects, a huge cave centipede, and several blue-eyed lizards. Sadly I didn’t bring my camera so no photos to share. But here are some wildlife we saw during the daytime around the resort:
Can you spot the flying lemur? It was on a tree right in front of our treehouse.
One of many lizards we encountered. Not sure what kind this one is.
Horseshoe crab just cruising the shallows at the beach.
One of many river monitors we saw.
A cute little leaf snake hanging out on a tree by the resort restaurant.
On our daytime and evening boat trips we saw all of the animals we hoped to see with the exception of the sea turtle. We saw several dolphins but these were even more difficult to snap a photo of than the pink dolphins in the Hong Kong harbour. And we saw proboscis monkeys and crocodiles in the mangroves but it was impossible to photograph them due to camera capabilities, distance of proboscis monkeys from eye level and speed that the crocodiles move. You’ll just have to take my word for it that we saw them all.
Here are some photos from our activities nonetheless:
Mangroves of Kuching Wetlands National Park
A fishing village located in the mangroves.
Nightime in the mangroves. There were fireflies everywhere but this photo just couldn’t capture their magic.
During our dolphin watching trip, we cruised by this protected “bird island” full of migrating birds.
Satang Island. Privately owned but the owner allows the national park service to run a sea turtle conservation program there.
Old sea turtle tracks leading from the water to the site where she buried her eggs.
The national park staff dig up the eggs buried by the sea turtles and transplants them to tubs for their protection. When they hatch they are released to the sea. There are 140 Hawksbill turtle eggs in this red tub.
Walking the lovely beach at Satang looking for evidence of sea turtles.
Hiking the trail at the resort. There were challenging parts like this one that you climbed with the assistance of ropes. The little guy did great!
Tree in the forest on the trail.
Right by the resort is the Sarawak Cultural Village where you can see traditional homes and crafts of the areas indigenous tribes. It is also possible to homestay at the village in one of the traditional homes. There were demonstrations of some of the tribes’ practices.
Playing music on a traditional instrument that has been modified for electric capabilities. Unfortunately I cannot recall which tribe this musician belonged to now.
There were also activities at the village like this one where you could shoot a real blowpipe. Marc got 2 out of 3. Pretty impressive!
The cultural village also had a show two times a day demonstrating traditional dances. This one even picked up a heavy trough with his teeth while he danced.
Tribal person in traditional hunting outfit getting dart ready to shoot from blowpipe.
Guess who he picked out of the audience to shoot a dart out of his blowpipe?
Our time in Borneo was incredibly memorable. Yet there’s so much more to do and so much wild to explore. It just means we will have to return! For now, onwards to Indonesia…