Miki Survival Camp is a tourism project initiated by the community of Kiau. After they ran the project, villagers started to realize the benefits of the conservation. Instead of clearing the forest for farming, they keep the jungles, especially those near to Miki camp. Personally I like to visit those pristine places other than those attractions developed by blood-sucking and money-minded tour operators, who only want to build luxury chalets and charge tourists by thousand$$$.
TOUR AROUND CAMPSITEAfter having warm porridge as lunch, our guide, Jimmy, led us for the afternoon education tour. He showed us some of the common traps used by the locals to catch wild animals. All traps are cleverly designed, with ropes, wood, strings, gravity and spring force as mechanism, no battery required. They either setup the trap in the animal path or put bait inside the trap. Jimmy also blew a folded ginger leaf, making sound to lure kijang (a lamb like small deer).
Few traps can be quite nasty, like the Vunsoi trap, if the wild boar or deer trips on a string, it will release a wooden bow spring that swing a spear. They even have smaller traps for snake, squirrel, mouse and jungle fowl. To avoid being wordy, I put more photos in album with captions, for your further reading. Tourists who join Miki Camp will get a small book, with info on trap setting. Besides the traps, Jimmy also told us the edible stuffs such as wild ginger fruit (tampo) and fern (pakis), herbal plant such as wadan vine, poisonous plant such as tohipoi, wild plum and bekago. It is interesting and useful to know all these.
Because of the wet forest floor, as we moved deeper inside the jungle, we were attacked by legion of tiger leeches. The leeches were hiding in the vegetation next to the trail, as we walked by, our raincoats were also sweeping the plant, harvesting leeches like vacuum. Haha… this is also part of the experience. We checked on each other regularly, remove leeches on our raincoat, so nobody got bitten (miracle!). Jimmy collected over 10 leeches and rub them in his palm, the heat killed all the leeches, and he showed me the “leech ball”, iyaak!
Later we were back to the campsite and Jimmy demo some craft works and skills, like making bamboo mat and roof, splitting firewood (in fastest and effortless way), creating bamboo fish trap (berusat), using blowpipe, etc. While we were happily sharing our excitement of the day, Rayner had started cooking our dinner, probably lizard soup and worm noodles, just kidding..
Early dinner in jungle is advisable. If you eat at night with light on, it will attract all sorts of flying bugs from the forest. We had fried rice, mixed vegetables, ketchup chicken and crab soup as our dinner. Rayner is such a good cook, or we were too hungry. It was also nice to have a cup of coffee or tea in the cold.
Jungle seemed to get dark sooner. The cold night kicked in, after a heavy meal, everyone already felt sleepy next to the fire place.
NIGHT WALKThe next programme was the one I anticipated the most, the night walk. In daytime, we didn’t see a lot of wild things, I only saw a huge stink bug and a Daddy Long Legs (Harvestmen Spider). However, the jungle is a extremely busy world at night. We started the night walk at 7:00pm and the noisy surrounding sounded very promising. In search of rare and weird bug, some foreigner photographers had visited this site much more earlier than me. In fact, this area is the buffer zone between Kiau Village and Kinabalu Park that is rich in biodiversity. With the aid of torchlight, we slowly walked across the jungle and scanned the plant and trees like treasure hunt.
After a short walk, the guide said, “turn off your light.” “Huh? what?” I replied but did so anyway. Then we saw patches of glowing green in total darkness (see photo above). “That’s a glowing fungus,” Jimmy said. When we turned on the light again, we only saw very ordinary green fungus on a rotten tree log. I was really thrilled and setup my tripod, attempting to capture the glow. I only took one shot coz I didn’t want everyone waited for me. Later we also spotted glowing mushroom.
Then the next interesting creature we saw was a very tiny frog (see photo above). It is so small that any normal frog can swallow it in one snap. It was sitting on a ordinary-size leaf. We carried on and saw more bugs, most were creepy types that could make girls screamed. I didn’t stop clicking my camera, every few steps there would be new things, like firefly, frogs (some are poisonous), stick insect, cricket, grasshopper, forest cockroaches, gecko, cave centipede, big snail, etc.
Guess what was the biggest bug we saw that night? It was not frog and lizard. The jackpot of this night walk was a giant caterpillar (see photo below)! This caterpillar is longer than my palm, probably about 7 inches long. Jimmy said, “I also never see anything like this before. You are so lucky.” Anyone can tell me what it is? We tried to look for the horned frog but didn’t find any. I was so happy already anyway. The cold weather drained the power of my camera battery very fast. My last battery only had two bars of power left. I needed to save it for next day. Damn… otherwise I would have spent more time and shot more…
About an hour later, we returned to our camp. There was no electricity and TV, so we went to bed, without taking a bath, lol… Though our camps were not too far apart, it was totally dark and I felt that my camp was alone. It was so noisy at night, with sounds from frogs, bugs and birds. Some lame writers like to describe this as the “orchestra” of jungle sounds. To me, it is just plain noisy. Since I was so tired, that didn’t really bother me. In midnight, I was waked up by a loud bang. Next day the guide told me it was bamboo “exploding”, it is common and can be as loud as gun shot.
Temperature still dropped in late night. So cold that everyone of us waked up and put on more clothing. Very soon I wanted to pee. I grabbed my torchlight and walked to the toilet. On the way back, I saw something moving slowly on a log. It was a very beautiful snake, with gold color and tiger-like stripes on its body, and got red eyes! It saw me and stayed motionless. Quickly I ran to my camp, took my camera and shot some photos. I was so glad I didn’t step on this snake by accident. When I was back to town, I looked up a book and learn that it’s a Smooth Slug-eating Snake (Pareas laevis) which feeds on snails and slugs.
Photos taken in Mohan Tuhan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo