So in the beginning of this year, I got invited by my friend Jens from Denmark to a birding trip in Malaysia and Vietnam. Some of you may have know who he is: a facebook friend who suddenly become my best buddy in birding. He is the one who invited me to a birding trip to his country 4 years ago, and that was also the last time we met each other.
Some months ago, he suddenly told me that he need a buddy for a birding trip aboard–an offer that I cant resist. We actually planned to go to Cambodia, but we found out that independent birders would not be accepted there. Since the guided tour seems to be too expensive for two, we decided to change the plan and go to this two country instead. This will be Jens’ second time in both country, while for me that it will be the first. We narrowed down the trip to four main sites: Fraser Hill, Taman Negara, Cat Tien National Park and Da Lat mountain area. Those sites are quiet famous for its birdlife, and we are hoping to find some endemics there.
So, to make things short I would start this story straight from the Kuala Lumpur Internatonal Airport. I was using AirAsia from Yogyakarta to KLIA2, which took about 2 hours. There, I took KL Transit to KLIA1 to meet Jens. As soon as I step off the plane, I spotted my first bird: House Crows, which were perching on the lamp posts. There were also some Barn Swallow and Glossy Swiflet flying over the airports. On the 5 minutes trav with the train, I saw more birds in airport area such as Common Myna and Cattle Egret. I was surprised to see the Milky Stork on some grassy waterhole next to the airport building.
It took me a while to find Jens in KLIA1. We then order a taxi to Hotel Geo in Chinatown, when we have reserved a room for a night. We used airport taxi which is a little bit expensive, but Jens said it is OK since he is too tired to use bus or train. It took us almost 2 hour to get in the town, but we didnt see many birds apart that Myna and Egret due to rain.When we arrived in the hotel lobby, I heard an Asian Koel singing but I couldnt find where it was.
Jens has booked a room in Hotel Geo, which overlooked the street below. A bunch of House Crow were roosting on the top of some building adjacent to the hotel, getting ready to sleep. As soon as its getting darker a group of swift were seen flying into the top of an old building. I was able to pick up some House Swift on it, but the others should be Glossy Swiflet.
At the night, I just realized that Malaysia has different electricity outlet than the one we have in Indonesia. I was thinking about it but didn’t really do a proper research. I tried to find some adapter at a market across the road, but cant find any. Since it’s already late, the are no electricity so open, so I need to borrow an adapter that belongs to the hotel. I kinda afraid I couldn’t charge my gadget tomorrow since we planned to go early to Fraser Hill.
Next morning, I ordered a Grab Car to Fraser Hill. For you who didnt know, Grab Car is an Uber-like appcompany native to Malaysia and also operates Indonesia. They used a fixed fare per kilometer (unlike Uber who also count the time in case of traffic jam) and we can see how much will it cost before we order a driver. The apps said it costs 126 MYR from our hotel to Fraser Hill, which is very low compared to regular taxi, but we decided that we should give more to the driver since it was a long way to go (and the extra money goes straight to the poor driver, instead of their company). The driver was very kind and he drove quiet fast. At the end Jens gave him 200 MYR since it was worth for the service.
There are not so many birds to see on the trip. Some Javan Myna was seen in front of the hotel when we were going to meet the drive. On the city border we saw all the common bird and some flock of Asian Glossy Starling. Some small pigeon were seen perching on the tree-top but we weren’t sure what they are. Eurasian tree sparrow were seen on a small suburb area outside of Kuala Lumpur. I finally spotted an Asian Koel on the highway, and there were some White-throated Kingfisher too perching on the lamppost. On the hilly road to the gap I spotted a lot Crested Serpent Eagle perching very close to the road, but the car couldnt stop for me to take its picture.
It took almost 2 hour for us to get into Fraser Hill, but it was so comfortable with our good driver. I would write more about our first impression of Fraser Hill at the next post.
List of Birds seen (bold for lifer):
1. House Crow
2. Glossy Swiflet
3. Common Myna
4. Milky Stork
5. Cattle Egret
6. House Swift
7. Javan Myna
8. Asian Glossy Starling
9. Eurasian Tree Sparrow
10. Asian Koel
11. White-throated Kingfisher
12. Crested Serpent Eagle