Star Date: March 2005
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
Selamat tengah hari!
(Good day -Malaysia Bahasa)
" Life takes by the hand those who will,
And those who won't; it drags. "
(Unknown. Can you tell me who wrote this??)
Or as I overheard Joseph say to a group of young Israeli travelers,
"Enjoy the Trip That's the Real Meaning of Life ! "
Borneo! Deepest, darkest Borneo has inspired writers and instilled fear in the hearts of adventurers for centuries. Filled with mystery, this large island in the South China Sea, has been home to the legendary wild man of Borneo, headhunters, and white Rajas. It is not surprising that our travel path led us here.
After flying in from NZ we headed east to Sabah (Land Below the Wind) via KK, in search of orangutans and discovered that Mt. Kinabalu stood in our way. After a couple days hiking the trails in the National Park we began one of those magical travel days. A ride in a local's truck to town, a colorful market and a hike into the jungle to see the rare, short blooming rafflesia (world's largest flower, carnivorous, 1 meter across) The afternoon was spent observing and getting to know "Jackie" the large female orangutan who comes down to visit the workers every afternoon, just in case they have some extra rice or bananas (ask where when visiting Puring Hot Springs). Her personality was as large as she was. What a character! Just us and Jackie for a couple of hours. Well not exactly just us. There were a dozen macaque monkeys flying 10 feet through the air and landing in a pool of water. Smart idea considering Borneo is right on the equator. Joseph went to sit on a long tree trunk and before I knew it he had set up a teeter-totter and had 6 monkeys going for a ride. The king pin was sitting next to him waiting for a piece of orange. When surrounded or challenged by monkeys it is always good to carry a rock in one hand. You just show it to them if they get aggressive and they back right down. A trick Joseph figured out during 6 months in India. Out of the jungle walked a large wild leopard cat "kitten" to frolic amidst the flowers and butterflies of all colors. The cherry on top of the day was a soak in the Puring Hot Springs, by ourselves, under the stars. We melted into bed and thanked God for such a unparalleled day. The next day we hiked up the mountain and walked on a rickety, swinging skywalk 90 feet up in the tree's canopy. It must be fun to be a monkey living and swinging way up there.
We bused to Sandekkan (Mayfair Hotel-a must) and enjoyed a couple of days at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation center. Orangutan's genes match humans 96.4% (sorry to insult the monkeys). They are absolutely fascinating to observe. Last time in Sumatra we went out in the jungle with a ranger on his rounds. At the encouragement of the ranger we held hands with a baby and spent 1/2 hour "preening" a lonely pregnant female. She started crying when we left. We even saw one with Down's Syndrome! There are about 300 orangutans in this 4000 hectare reserve and the numbers are whittling away as their habitat, rich in valuable lumber, is rapidly destroyed. Soon they will just be a memory in books! We then hiked to a watering hole and saw squillions of monkeys, a pair of pygmy rhinoceros, snakes coiled up sleeping in the trees, and ended up with only 2 leeches each!!
We next ended up in Sukau, a tiny village at the end of a 48km dust-bowl road, that the Lonely Planet said was "virtually impossible" to reach independently. We figured the locals got there somehow and we tagged along. We stayed 4 nights in the steamy jungle along the Kinabatangan River (Sukau Inn Loseman). We rode up the tributaries 4 times in their canoe. The trees were exploding with wildlife : hundreds of large proboscis monkeys (the longer the male's nose and the rounder his belly the more females he can lure into his harem) rhinoceros hornbills and endless brilliant birds, snakes, monitor lizards, otters, the footprints of elephants, and hundreds of monkeys swinging, jumping and splashing into the river. We awoke the next morning to the sounds of the jungle and torrential downpours. We enjoyed a much needed day of R & R, tuned into our own private Discovery Channel!
And so it goes...........................................................Next Kalimantan. Coming back to "civilization" and electricity from the jungle it was heart warming to hear from you. Keep it up - even a few lines are appreciated. Until then Keep Smiling and instead of being dragged through life, make a decision to "Enjoy the Trip !" Take care.
Love, xoxoox Nancy & Joseph
The island of Borneo - 2
months over land & up rivers. We flew
Captivating orangutans. A face only a mother could love!
World's largest flower, the rare carnivorous
Mt. Kinabalu. The ever changing mist
in Borneo rolls back to
The infamous Jackie. She was always into
Asian wild leopard cat !
Rhinoceros horned bill
Proboscis monkey at sunset- what a dapper
Green tree snake asleep by the path - yes,
they are poisonous,