Ok. I suck. I could make excuses about why my promised, alleged, intended daily blog entries during Malaysia III have failed. There are loads of plausible reasons. But, I just suck.
I truly had hoped to share daily, but I also selfishly just wanted to have a journal of each day’s activities. I’m old. Memory fails.
I certainly can’t recollect well enough to recount each day now, four days or so after my last post. There was beer and beach and pool and, of course, wildlife and photography. Tuesday night we even had an amazing private beach buffet dinner for Mark Pennell’s sister Chris’ 60th birthday.
Two evenings stand out for me though. Mark, his brother-in-law Alan (Chris’ husband) and I made two treks from Berjaya through the nearby Oriental Village to a jungle path and up to Seven Wells Waterfall. Both last night and the first trip, we met in the resort lobby at 6:30 and got back at about 11 pm, tired and sweaty and telling our group assembled in the hotel lobby bar tales of spiders, scorpions and bats. The Chilobrachys tarantulas haven’t been as easy to find as during previous visits and we have so far failed to observe Omothymus tree tarantulas, but we have found Heteropoda and Pandercetes huntsman spiders incredibly abundant, their astonishing camouflage betrayed by the eye shine caused by our flashlight beams.
I have failed to find snakes at night (an amazing snake story will follow, however), but we have seen frogs, Tokay and flat-tailed house geckos, bamboo rats, bats, etc. Our two night walks have been the highlight of the visit for me.
OK - snake story. Monday night as our group was heading from our individual chalets to meet in the lobby for dinner, one couple was taking numerous iPhone snapshots during the walk. Just clicking images of the grounds and the spectacular view of the pool, beach and Burau Bay on the Andaman Sea where we are so fortunate to be. As Julie snapped her series of photos an Oriental Pied Hornbill landed on the ground and she pointed her iPhone camera its way. These are spectacular birds. Even though it is the smallest of the three species of hornbills found on the island, hey still are larger than a small dog. What Julie could have never expected was that she would see that Hornbill killed as just then a Reticulated Python attacked and thrust its shiny coils around it quickly constricting the doomed bird. Others in our party came over and many iPhones became pointed at the coils of python wrapped around the majestic black and white bird with huge ivory bill. I actually wasn’t there as I had a very late lunch/early dinner in Oriental Village and wasn’t joining the group dinner. I was in my room when Mark texted me and I threw on clothes just as Kim knocked on my chalet. Sadly, by the time I arrived at the scene about two minutes walk from my chalet the snake had been disturbed enough to release the now dead Hornbill and crawl into a subterranean cave beneath ornamental rocks that had been cemented together. This is right next to the prayer building and 50 yards from the pool!
I have tried to see the python again to no avail. Based on the size of the bird and the photos and videos the amazed onlookers captured, I would guess that the snake was about eight feet long (retics are slender for length). It’s amazing that it lives in a resort with a almost 500 chalets and a staff of several hundred and is not seen again. But the grounds are heavily forested and landscaped and wildlife is abundant. Large monitors visit the pool so a python beneath the Muslim prayer room isn’t unusual, I suppose.
Our group are on a private sunset cruise on the Andaman Sea right now, but I declined to join them for a number of reasons. I did do it on my other two visits. I know they’re having a blast and I have enjoyed a peaceful day alone, doing what I enjoy.