Upclose and Personal with Inhabitants of the Seria Shoreline

There’s a time to feast on delicious cooked crabs and there’s a time to just … watch them. The last time I set foot on the beach I had an amazing time watching and photographing crabs local to the Seria shoreline. Hard to believe it’s been 6 years since I took these closeups — a test of patience with a dose of luck and opportunity. The price I paid for being extremely patient was bait for sandfly to feast on. This time, however, I covered myself a lot more than I did before — sunhat, long sleeved top and jeans along with socks and shoes — which somewhat helped except I had left my neck completely uncovered. As a result, I came home with three bite marks (as opposed to more than half a dozen before) that are now swollen and itchy. Still, a small price to pay to be up close and personal with these very interesting creatures, watching them dig holes. Because

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This crab scoops tiny balls of wet sand to create a hole deep enough for it to hide in.

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Walking back to the car with the front of my top and jeans completely wet (I laid on wet sand in order to get a good vantage point) I came across another catch — horseshoe crabs. Before today, I had only seen dead ones that people kept as display items in their house but these were alive and kicking on the very shoreline where the hundreds or thousands of tiny crabs hang out. I was ecstatic that a few hours on the beach had been so productive!

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A fruitful morning for this family of four to have picked up four horseshoe crabs.

Bukit Shahbandar 9 Hills Personal Best Time

Four months before my Mount Kinabalu climb on December 17, 2013 I trained almost exclusively at the hills of Bukit Shahbandar in the Brunei-Muara district, located a little over an hour’s drive from my residence. Coming from badminton, a sport that I’ve played since my secondary school days, hiking wasn’t an activity I was fond of in the beginning. We started with the popular ‘4 hills‘ route that took us 53 minutes to complete, and in just a few short weeks the group decided unanimously that it was time to venture farther — the ‘9 Hills‘ route that took our group 1 hour 46 mins to complete — this route I really liked and got hooked on. On days when other members of the group weren’t available to join me I hiked alone, logging my best times — as an indication of my fitness.

My first solo attempt began on October 22, 2013 when I logged 50 mins 54 secs

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Second attempt on December 11, 2013 clocking best time of 44 mins 27 secs

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Earlier this week I made my first attempt of 2014 and finished at 41 mins 21 secs.

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Where do I go from here? I’m thinking 40 minutes would be a realistic target.

Aerial View of My Favourite Hiking Trails at Bukit Shahbandar

Drone photography is all the rage these days and I can see the addition of a quadcopter to my inventory, when owning one becomes more affordable. Until then I’ll reminisce the aerial photographs I took on-board a Bell 212 helicopter during an assignment some years back. Instead of being strapped comfortably to the seats, I decided to make full use of my limited time in the air and took lots of terrain photographs. Looking through my archives a few days ago, I was extremely delighted to find one of Bukit Shahbandar where my wife and I go hiking. What began as a means to train for my Mount Kinabalu climb a month from today has escalated to what some friends describe as obsession with the hills.

Click on image to view larger version
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Here’s a more recent photo and my current favourite (captured on Samsung Galaxy S3)  that gives you an idea of the trail we’re dealing with on a good day. On a stormy day it’s a whole different story and we’ve hiked in both extremes. Oh man, just looking at these pictures is enough to work up an itch to head out there.

Hiking Bukit Shahbandar: 9 Hills | 14 Hills

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