Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary by bike

The 18km return route to Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary from SK Kpg Masjid.

We drove out at 4:30pm after ding-dong-ing at home the whole day. By the time we reached SK Kpg Masjid's jetty it was already a few minutes past 5pm.

The two MTBs were quickly offloaded and biking we went. This was supposed to be a short ride to refamiliarise ourselves with these nifty human powered two-wheelers. Clare last cycled probably way back in the summer of 2004, our last Dutch summer before we returned to Miri. I've been cycling a hybrid-roadbike occasionally for exercise since June 2011, so by right my biking is less rusty than Clare's.

The first segment of the road is surfaced, the second segment is also surfaced but with compacted medium sized gravel, the last stretch to the Sanctuary is still hardened fine mud. In many places there were potholes and wet muddy patches. Ideal for fat tires with multiple gear options.

One could make it fun by sprinting through the muddy patches but since it's our first ride, it was much more fun riding quietly and getting as close as we can to the roosting macaques and pigeons along the route. The time as well as just about settling down time for these critters with sunset only an hour away. There were several troops of monkeys all along the path, some were busily crossing the path to get to their favorite branches, the kids would definitely have loved it.

We arrived at the office just as Suni was finishing up his grasscutting chores. Suni is one of the four rangers stationed at the sanctuary. His family took up residence at the double storey wooden building that also couples as the Sanctuary office. They venture to town only for kids' schooling and getting supplies for the family. It seemed an ideal life surrounded by nature all day and nights, Suni's children seemed to love it most.

This sanctuary provides ideal habitat for crocodiles, but crocodiles are not popular subjects around here. Suni mentioned two recent cases of crocodile attack nearby. Though in both cases, the victims survived the separate attacks, the manner of which the attack occurred dismayed the locals. It took place near the village and not some quiet spot away from human habitation. The cases definitely didn't improve people's views on crocodiles around the sanctuary. Somehow the myth that "crocodiles don't attack villagers" is getting eroded quicker by each attack.

We left Suni and his family just as the sun was diving beneath the horizon. We promised to be back with the children next time around, perhaps maybe camp overnite to spy on the Buffy Fish Owl that has a favorite perch right in front of the park office. And of course to check out the eyeshine if any local crocs in nearby canals and small rivers.

Soon enough we'll be biking the 18km return trip with plenty of things to see along the way.

Leisurely ride, you'll never forget how to cycle, it might be wobbly at first but once it sinks in, it quickly becomes an automatic reaction.

The swamp getting ready to receive sunset. Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary is not yet open to the public, SFC has an office at the Sanctuary to keep things in order. BTW, there are crocodiles in them there canals.

The sun setting as we cycled back to our waiting car.

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