So first, we had to wear the life jackets. Of course for safety reason. And secondly, it's something that all tourism companies should do as instructed by the Tourism Department. The first view was of course the beautiful Kampong Ayer. It was rather late but the nice thing was we gotta see the fishermen catching fish with the nets. Not to mention the cold breeze and clear sky showing the sun setting ahead of us. It was simply beautiful.
We went "aww" and "aahh" seeing the Ingrid birds resting in groups on an abandoned boat. As we left the spot, 3 birds flew over us and we focused on them flying at low level just reaching the stream, as if directing our boat to somewhere. Soon after, we got excited as the river channel got us nearer to a big tree full of the white feathered birds resting on its branches. It was just breath-taking to look at! Never had I before come as close as 5 metres away from tens of birds ahead of me. A gentle sound we made had made some of them flew off the branches and the sight was just very very amazing.
As it got darker, our boat suddenly stopped and the driver took out a torch light. He shot it at a spot above the tree and it showed us the black-yellow-striped snake. The same snake I spotted when I joined the Kampong Sungai Matan Tour last June. I hate snake, I got to admit, but seeing one up-close was of course something I wouldn't miss! I wouldn't want to see it live in a zoo but there in the wildlife, it was a chance not to be missed!
From there, we moved on to hunt for the Proboscis Monkeys. We were lucky cause we spotted a group of them just a few metres away from where we spotted the nocturnal snake species. The monkeys were even very close! Just above our boat, not moving at all. I guess it was their nap time. With the strong spotlight, we got to take a few snaps of the arrogant male monkey. He was big, with a round belly and a big pointed nose. It sure looked ugly but we learnt that the longer its nose, the "more handsome" it was for the female species! Azman, our tour guide, fed us with all the info about this species.
They are monkeys, not a family of Urang Utan, cause they have long tails. They live in a harem where the male could mate up to 7 females. The males attract the females by becoming a leader of the group and to be a leader, the males have to kind of make the loudest raw to win the throne. They mate all year through and a female proboscis can only give birth to one baby proboscis after 6 months of pregnancy. The baby stays with its mother for 3 years for breastfeeding and will start a family when it is 8 years old. The females only mate with one male proboscis. We laughed when Azman told us that the males eat by pushing their nose sideways instead of upwards. I guess that's a clear difference between them and us humans huh! Kekeke :P
They feed on the mangrove leaves and can't take sugary fruits like banana. Sugar kills them! Their tummy has 7 chambers, which protects them from poisonous leaves and if ever they are sick, they'll go down to the river bank, eat up a mouthful of mud and spit it out after a few seconds. This is how they heal themselves. Their main predators are the salt water crocodile and human activities such as hunting and pollution. Even the string of a kite could kill them, especially when it stuck on tree branches and these animals got trapped in between.
Yup! There are crocodiles in Brunei River. Some of us might only think that there are crocodiles only in Temburong River but no ... This is another lesson I learnt tonight! We spent a few minutes floating on the river near Bengkurong fly-over bridge listening to Azman briefing us on the Proboscis Monkeys. As he touched on the topic of Salt Water Crocodile, our boat driver took out his torch light again and shot at a pair of red dots just a few metres away from our boat. Our boat then moved towards it slowly ... Us unaware of what we were looking at.
Yup! That pair of red dots were the eyes of a crocodile!! It didn't move as our boat slowly approached it but when Azman tried to touch it, it splashed away, giving us a shock!! It vanished in a split second. Gosh! It was scary but exciting at the same time!! And the fact that we were chit chatting for 20 minutes at that area, it was just CRRRAAZZZYY!! We didn't even know there was a live crocodile just next to our boat! Sheeshhh!!! Cool huh!! Owh, in case you're wondering, Salt Water Crocodile that we have here in Brunei is not an agressive type. Azman once took a foreign photographer hunting for crocodiles in Tutong River even came across a big and long Salt Water Crocodile. Its size was even longer that their boat! What's more exciting for him was that crocodile was swimming along with their boat. Ain't that amazing!!! He then showed us his picture taken with a baby crocodile which he had in his palm. Lucky guy!!!
Salt Water Crocodiles are brainy. They sunbath for 2 reasons: scientifically to get energy from the sun and to make their body bigger, secondly to fish. As they're sunbathing, they keep their mouth open and this attracts flies, which lay eggs in its mouth. As the eggs mount up, it goes into the river and remains opening its mouth, now inviting the fish to swim in. With the flies' eggs as baits, it feeds on the fish that comes closer to them. Ain't that brilliant!!
Aahhh next, we went hunting for the crocs! We were eyeing the bushes for pairs of red eyes on the river banks. As we were busy with that, we were distracted by lights glittering up and down near us. Yes! Fireflies!! Apparently we had gone nearer to their nesting site and the sight of their glowing wings was just wonderful!! Soon after, we spotted trees with glittering yellowish lights! They looked like Christmas trees! We got nearer and Azman taught us how to catch them. I got 3 and Lulu got 1. We put them in a bottle. They were flying about in the bottle and their glow was just beautiful! I even had 1 resting on my palm for a few seconds. I could see it flipping its glowing wings as it moved away from me. Just beautiful! Simply beautiful!
As Azman briefed us, there are about 1000 species of fireflies around the world and they are species of beetles. Some fireflies could live up to 2 months and they only live to mate. In other words, they don't eat at all. Some eat the others to survive. Female fireflies stay on the leaves and glowing simultaneously with other female species, while the males are the ones flying about in the air and glitter faster than the females. The rest of the journey was nice as along the way we spotted the Christmas trees-like on both sides of the river banks. Too bad we couldn't take snaps of the views as it was just too dark.
Before leaving back to the open river, we spotted 2 more crocodiles. 1 was a big one and another was a small one, which we were not keen to get near at as Azman said, a mother croc is very protective of its baby. So, you could imagine what could happen to us if ever we disturbed the baby huh! Though Azman said it's 100% safe but we just gotta be extra careful. First, it was real dark. Secondly, most of us can't swim. If ever we got attacked, phewww!! Well, we weren't hehe :P
Before we passed the beautiful Istana Nurul Iman, we went into a narrow river channel and with the help of the torch, we witnessed a number of flying fox flying over us. Some hanging on the tree branches. Me and Tracey reached out our jackets and covered our head! It was a sudden action we made as we heard Azman saying that a flying fox's dropping consists of a chemical that could make us bald if ever it dropped on your head. It was hilarious when others were just calm about it hehe :P Me and Tracey just didn't wanna take the risk of becoming bald! Hahaha :P
We then passed by the same tree where we spotted the group of Ingrids. As the spotlight hit them, they flew off in a big group and soon after flew back to where they came from. As Azman commented: they were making a U-turn actually. Our boat driver shot the group as it was reaching the tree and amusingly, the birds flew away again, now making a 360 degrees turn hehehe :P It was funny!
On the way back to Kampong Ayer, we stopped by the Jong Batu for a short folktales of the Nakhoda Ragam and Si Perawai. Next, we travelled through the Kampong Ayer and we were pleased knowing that the Government has subsidised the cost of the collection of rubbish from one house to another as a way of preventing water pollution. Way the go! It's about time that we do something about the polluted river!
We had dinner at a restaurant in Kampong Saba, a village in Kampong Ayer. The restaurant is just like the ones we have on land. With tables, chairs and menus. The only difference is just that it is built on stilts on water. Yet another amazing experience. We chose the seats facing the view of the beautiful night view of Bandar Seri Begawan. We were there for almost an hour. By 9.15pm, we left to Yayasan Jetty.
It was a great tour. I now have plans to bring my families on the same tour soon. Oh by the way, in case you're interested, you may contact the following for information of tours that they are arranging:
Mona Florafauna Tours Agency
Room 209, 1st Floor, Kiaw Lian Building,
Jalan Pemancha, Bandar Seri Begawan,
BF8811. Brunei Darussalam
(Their office is opposite Brunei Hotel)
or you can email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not only I had a great night out, it was sure educational too! The agency is now having its promotion price for teachers. It usually costs $128/head but now it's only $40. Teachers may have the same price for their family members and the price for the kids are negotiable. The promotion lasts till 31st December.
I'm sure gonna go again! This time, with my family! Wanna join?? :)
PS: Will upload the pixies tomorrow. Gotta get some rest now! All my energy was used up with excitements during the tour hehe :P Good night peeps!!