Exploring Malaysian Borneo

Trip Start Nov 26, 2007
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Trip End Nov 26, 2008


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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We flew into Kuching and Malaysian Borneo both really happy to be getting out of the city and exploring. There was so much to do here and so little time! Malaysian Borneo is split into 2 - Sabah and Sarawak. We started in Sarawak and were struck by how affluent it was, big houses with row upon row of new ones being built and big cars hardly a motorbike in sight. Kuching had quite a few large hotels - the Hilton being one of them but we stayed in back packers favourite - Borneo B and B, cheap and cheerful with loads of info for travellers. We explored a deserted town and ate some lovely cheap very spicey food. It seemed hotter here than in Thailand and no sea to cool down in. We came out that evening and ran into a massive precesion going down the high street garishly bright floats with rows of people from young to old walking behind with lanterns made from paper to look like lotus flowers with a candle in the middle. Hundreds of people were involed all chinese buddhists celebrating weaek day - a day to give thanks which explained why the whole town had closed down. Quite a sight, Im glad we got to see it.
The next day we got up early and sped off in a taxi to the Orang utan Rehabilitation Centre at Semengok National Park. Orang utans who have been saved from poachers have been rehabilitated and released into the park and are now successfully breeding. They get fed a percentage of their diet at 9am at various platforms which is why we had set off so early to try and see them. At the first platform fruit and veg was put down and we heard the trees begin to shake. We looked up to see Manap swinging slowly in. They are very graceful and cautious animals and seem to love hanging by their arms and not moving! He had been born wild in the Park and was 6 years old - he was tiny. He was closely followed by his 20 year old mother Minah. She had been released here. We were stood with about 15 other people watching this very human like ape picking up and peeling bananas not 10 metres away from us. It was amazing, their hands were so human like and they were ginger! We walked about 10 minutes into the jungle (both of us managed to stub toes!) to the next platform and waited. Flying squirrels flew in but the 2 orang utans we could hear were hanging back. as 10 o clock approached the ranger walked back to the platform to stand with us on the path with a basket of fruit. Four very noisy small children had got bored and had been taken back to the other platform and as soon as they went the 2 orang utans slowly climbed down and were right next to us on the path. It was 37 year old Seduka and her daughter 6 year old Sadam. They were no further than 2 metres away from us - you can tell how over excited I am from the photos! We spent the rest of the day in 3 different museums in Kuching - they were air conditioned but quite interesting too! They had everything from stuffed animals to tribal artifacts and traditions...a lot of these stopped when the white man came and turned everyone to christians!
We were SUPPOSED to get up the next day and do a 5 hour hike around the national park in preperation for the mountain we are going to climb (and im not speaking metaphorically here...gulp!) but when our alarms went off at 6am it was thundering so we promptly decided to leave it and slept in till 10am instead! We got up and hired a little 2 stroke motorbike - 125cc, a bit of grunt compared to the little hondas. We rode 30km to the coast and stopped in a little fishing village for lunch for a lovely seafood lunch of chilli fried crab, kung po prawns and fried rice - delicious! We went to find a beach to cool off in the sea but all the bays were attached to massive, expensive hotel resorts and were for their customers only. We sneaked through the very posh reception of one to stand on a bare deserted beach for ten minutes. On the way back we stopped in a little village to find petrol. Lovely little houses  on mangrove forest and friendly waving children. We stopped at the bay to have a look at the water and a boy came over to practice his english - he was 12 and chatted to us quite well in english. It seemed a million miles away from the posh resort and I felt it was such a shame that the guests there would not be able to experience this simple village life - I'd prefer that to their hotel anyday. On the way back we stopped at the Cat Museum - so bizarre! Kuching is Malay for cat and is their city's symbol - there are cat stautes everywhere and this museum was an ode to the feline. It had everything from figurines to photographs of cats dressed in human clothes smoking cigarettes to displays on how to tell how warm a room was by the way a cat slept - like I said it was very bizarre!!
On Saturday morning we went to the pitcher plant and orchid nursery just out of town - amazing plans surrounded by big mossies! On the way back to the hotel the clutch went on our little bike and we had to push it up the hill, only 10 minutes but it was midday and very hard work! After much needed showers we made our way to the airport. It was time to move on to Sabah.
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