Where the wild things are

Trip Start Nov 02, 2005
Trip End Nov 01, 2006

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Monday, July 17, 2006

Borneo is an absolutely amazing place. It has so much to offer that it's really worth spending a few months. But isn't this always the way?!

We spent a night camping on a small island off the coast of this larger island. It was great, we put our tent up and had nobody nearby. There was a resort around the other side of the island, but we were free to put on a mask and snorkel and explore the reef only 20 meters from our tent without anyone around. It was really peaceful and fun. Of course, it wouldn't have been the same without our welcome committee: 2 big monitor lizards as we set up our tent. Good fun.

We then headed inland and went straight for the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary. This is where orphaned or hurt Orang Utans are rehabilitated back into the wild. They know when feeding time is and can choose to come out of the wild forest to the feeding platform to have a meal if they want to. The catch is that there's a few busload of us tourists waiting there to get a million pictures of them! It's great because you do get some great shots of wild, rehabilitated Orang Utans, and the money that the tourists generate goes to keeping the centre open. This still doesn't solve the source of the problem. Most of these Orang Utans require the rehabilitation because of their gross loss of habitat. But we keep on logging! It makes you a bit sick...

From here we continued on to Uncle Tan's. This is an outfit that takes us out to the middle of the jungle by boat for a 2 night jungle experience. We have two afternoon boat rides, one night boat ride, one night walk, one morning walk and one morning boat ride. We saw REALLY wild Orang Utans, a massive croc and a bunch of small ones, proboscis monkeys, giant centipedes (poisonous!), spiders, frogs, macaques, otters, etc. And, although hornbills are always flying overhead in Borneo, there was a huge amount of them while we were in this particular part of the jungle. It was great.

We then headed straight for the coast. Staying in Semporna was a great spot for our dives to Sipadan and the surrounding islands. This was some serious diving with great visibility, swimming with loads of giant turtles and sharks, not to mention a great selection of reef fish and all the other life you get along with coral. It was world class diving, and it absolutely blew our minds. We even had a tornado of approximately 2000 barracudas above us at one point. A little freaky, but amazing.

From here we headed in-land again and decided to splurge on a trip to Danum Valley. This is actually reserved for research activity and is not really set up for tourists at all. If you want to pay the extra cash and you can get permission ahead of time, it's an amazing place. We went gibbon tracking, saw loads more wildlife and had a great time with a bunch of the scientists.

From Danum, we headed back to Kota Kinabalu and took it easy for a few days. It was pretty rainy weather at this point, and about the only thing we got up to was searching for the giant Rafflesia flower. Sizing up at over a meter in diameter, it's the world's largest flower. We found one that wasn't quite that big, but it was pretty cool to see. It's a very funky looking flower. It also gives off a stench of rotting meat to attract flies in order to help with polination, but we weren't able to smell this.

Although there was plenty left to do in Sabah, and certainly loads more to do in Borneo, we had to move on. We were excited to get to Australia and experience the shock of returning to a 1st world nation. Also, we were due to meet Lisa's brother and create some of our own thunder down under!
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