Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Camping at Kuala Niah Christmas Day
Where we were over the weekend, camped 2kms from the rivermouth, along the sandbar of Kuala Niah. The red arrow pointing to the direction of flight of flying foxes spotted that day. Map by GoogleEarth, Track by Musa Musbah.
It was drizzling all the way from where we left off, by the time we reached Kuala Niah, it was still raining. We waited by the shore knowing fully well the stories of the notorious crocodiles of Sg Niah ... eager to get out of the rain, ever so keen to cross Sg Niah. It was still raining then. All eyes were nervously focussed on any little log floating downstream with the landas as we boarded the tiny sampan.
By the time the boat arrived, after we safely made the crossing it was still raining. We then started walking on the sandy beach of Kuala Niah, the rain still hadn't let up. In fact it rained the whole day that day till we reached our first campdubbed "The Hilton". This was way back in December 2008 during our Coastal Long Walk.
I wanted to go back to Kuala Niah and camped on the beach in sunny weather in December, almost assured even then that there would be one glorious sunny day when we'd be back on it's shores.
Sure enough the drive out to the junction from Bekenu was all sunshine unlike how it was 2 years ago almost exactly. By the time we passed the little rickety wooden bridge adjoining the oxbow lake however, it started drizzling. Dark clouds were looming over from the South West. It looked to be another December wet camp-out on Kuala Niah, how "unexpected"!
And it did rain, buckets full by 6pm ... those who stayed behind to cook dinner were soaked. Rit, Erny and Nazeri were happily running around cleaning the 4 siakaps, mixing spices, moving items to less wet zones, keeping the fire going and keeping rain out of the coffee pot. All at the same time.
Those on the boat soaked to their skins too.
It was all but a half hour downpour just before sunset. By the time the rain stopped, we've the table laid, full to the brim with dinner items : steamed siakaps, grilled siakap, siakap masak asam and siakap singgang. These complemented by steamed squid, kelupis and lemang specially brought in for the occasion.
The folks who went on the boat trip came back in time for a steaming dinner of all the above mentioned items. Tall tales of giant sized flying foxes flying overhead in the thousands were related excitedly over dinner.
It was great camping from then onwards. Clear skies with gazillion stars overhead, the moon was a bit late but it did come around by 10pm. Gentle breeze filled the air, the only noise was muffled conversations around the roaring campfire. Kids were busing running around chasing the waves well into the nite.
And then more twinkling stars appeared in the clear nite skies. That made it worth all the rain earlier ... fantabulous!
The splendid weather continued till mid afternoon the next day.
Our campsite under the young casuarinas, the exact entry point to the Niah-Camp1 leg of the December LongWalk 2008.
A muted sunset on Kuala Niah beach, not unlike the one we saw back then either.
The after dinner lull at the campsite.
A male Olive-backed Sunbird found roosting a low branch at the Kuala Niah sandbar.
A female Olive-backed Sunbird on another low branch along the trail on the sandbar. Other birds seen was a pigeon sp. and owl sp. No crocodiles were spotted along the the water's edge ... there was a close call that turned out to be a large log flopping about in the water.
2am Cloud and stars above the pounding waves.
Campers fast asleep outside their tents.
Pre-dawn morning lite with sparkling stars.
View from under the tent as a new day approaches.
The next day along the shores of Kuala Niah holds promises of another great weather day.
Words and images by Nazeri Abghani.
Posted by nabghani at 8:55 PM