March 31, 2009

BorNEo Epilogue

We had to drive through palm oil plantations to get to Uncle Tan's.

Heading back was just as muddy as when we came in...only this time there were some obstacles.

A huge rig of palm oil pickins stuck in the mud...luckily we didn't have to wait actually just had to back out.

A flood...that turned out to be...not so deep.

L to R: the Australian matching couple (always wore the same colored t-shirts), the London couple (Gary the softie and Holly one of the cooler girls I have ever met), the Swiss couple (Sonja and Patrick) and the South African (Surita aka my co-worker).

This was the group we ended up with for the last few days. I have to say I really loved the Swiss couple b/c we were always laughing at the same things. We had actually told them about Uncle Tan's and they came with us.

In Sukau, Jonas and Lois from Sweden. They were filming some stuff for American schools. You can check out some of his work: It's like Bill Nye the Science Guy stuff. Pretty cool.

All this for a pic of a tiny praying mantus.

We were on the NE side of Sabah, Malaysia and were heading South. Ah the taxi ride...I couldn't help but breath in that fresh air...

you know...that air. I was dying and laughing to myself at the same time...all that cig smoke flying in my face...but believe me that was better than the rotten fish smell all 3 hours in our mini bus ride to Semporna.

The bus stop to Semporna. There is no set time for the bus to leave.

You know which bus to take by the sign on the bus or in its front window. I don't know how we made it around, but we survived b/w our little known Malay/Chinese and their English. ha ha. The most commonly known word was...Ringgit (their currency)

This is a mini bus (boss meanie) (we say it backwards and without a cool accent). This is so luxury compared to some of the other buses and means of transportation...truly.

and when the bus fills up...then you go. You could be waiting for hours...which we did. The bus even took a few rounds around the town beeping at everyone on the street to see if they wanted to hitch a ride to Semporna.

While waiting for the Semporna bus to fill up we began to feel we ate and these lovely Muslim girls were the cooks. They actually asked us to take their picture...not a usual case.

After a good nights rest in Semporna we found the Mabul Cafe to be a great place to eat and figure out where to dive.

Figuring out when and who we were going to dive with. I was the scribe while Surita read off prices and accommodations. We dove with Uncle Chang. And lived on Mabul island for a few days.

A view from Mabul. I dove to see the Hawksbill Turtle and I saw. I could have just watched them forever...magical.

Mabul not poor in beauty, but poor in the way of life. Poverty and tourists...don't make a good mix. It's not a new thought for me, but seeing what I saw motivates me to be more urgent to do something about it...I'm working on that.

freedom love

Pick a spot to sit down.

Make sure you have some tooth fresheners.

And brush away to the rising tide and sun.

Dive with the locals

...and somehow notice a set of homemade drums in front of the scuba hut.

Watch the clouds at sea...and think of the things you wish everyone could experience with you...It'll happen someday.

When we got to the airport our flight was cancelled so they put us up in a Hyatt (4 star) hotel. A nice way to end the trip after a long stream of...not so clean hostels and random street food that you were unsure of. The next day we arrived at the airport LATE and had to through the airport just in time to hear them was boarding time! I was laughing inside about how the ENTIRE trip was not without some kind of pure adventure.

Terima Kasih (Tur-ee-muh Kah-see) (roll the r) means Thank you. I love you Borneo. I wouldn't have seen it any other should try it sometime.

March 22, 2009

A LaNd CaLLed BoRNeO...

It was November and I sat in a local breakfast shop with a friend from work. We were about to drive through the hills to find some local hot springs. While we were waiting for her scooter to get freshened up with some new breaks she told me of her plans to travel to Borneo. My eyes got big and so did my join her! A few months later we hopped on a plane with NO idea of where we were going to sleep that night.

The next 3 weeks were pure backpacker adventure. Not a day was planned more than a day or two in advance...and getting from point A to point B was never the same. The mix of people and religions make for an incredible way of life. Wish you could have been there. Alas, I'll just... show you some pictures.

The first few nights we stayed in Kota Kinabalu (KK) at the Asia Adventure Lodge hostel. While we were there we planned out a rough idea of what we wanted to do and talked to some other people that had already been there and done that. Amongst the lodgers was...

UNCLE THE PALM READERThis is uncle aka philosopher and my palm reader who read I would either work in a bar, help others, and/or get married and have kids...what the random?

WorLds LarGest FloWer...Native to Malyasia and Indonesia
Blooming time: 5-7 days certain times of the year
THE RAFFLESIA hmmm. I was interested in seeing it...but uh I didn't think I would see it this's a long story. But I'll tell you the short version.

You follow the cute little guy up a little dirt road, hang a left, walk through some bushes, and come to a stream. Then he stops and holds his hand out for you to go ahead...

only then did I look up to see a little fence. I was dying.

Is this really what tourists do? is.

I'd rather just get a picture with the natives and get it over with. These guys were the best part of the whole...Rafflesia experience.

I took a really cool film of her which won't post. She was so close and it was special not to see her behind bars, but in her natural habitat. The Center rescues and reintroduces these amazing creatures back into their natural environment.

I don't know what this was made of (smelled like vicks) but it was the most amazing repellent I have ever used! Definitely a life saver! Better than anything on the market fo sho.

A glimpse of the jungle. I LOVED IT! You ride in a little fisherman boat at different times of the day and see the wildlife in it's natural habitat. I admit that I wasn't too sure how we were helping their environment with a somewhat noisy boat and smoke choking out the natural air, but uh....the locals run this joint and they are fighting the gov. to keep the jungle area from being replaced with palm oil tree plantations. DON'T BUY PALM OIL PRODUCTS!

We took a small trek in the jungle and looked closely at the insects and other living organisms.

Lan in the front. He has been doing the backpacker safari for 12 years. I wish you could have listened to him speak about the palm oil plantations, the struggle with the government, and the fight to keep what jungle they have left. He would call me "Samoa" after explaining to him why I looked like a local ha ha. It was good to meet another bro out in the world.

sleeping quarters

Our last morning at Uncle Tan's we headed down a different part of the river and came across this little guy. A 2 year old Orangutan eating the fruits of the tree. Obviously my camera wasn't good enough for this moment, but I think we all could have just stayed there for hours watching it. It was actually a humbling experience...and makes me sad to think that the jungle keeps getting smaller and smaller.

He or she looked like this...only way cuter and this one is already way cute.

I loved seeing the jungle this way. It was actually quite sad to leave after only 3 days in it. I have to go back. I just have to. Anyone want to come?

More stories and pics to come.