This is Joseph Conrad territory

Trip Start Feb 06, 2005
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Trip End Jul 2005


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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Sunday, July 10, 2005

Borneo! My preconceptions of this place were of primitive jungle, full of headhunters and crocodiles competing to end my trip even earlier. Well... a concrete jungle and a traffic jam were my first impressions. It got better fast though. Kuching is a beautiful riviera town full of great cafes, gardens, bars and friendly locals. The towering hotels and offices on one side of the river bank are matched by stilt houses on the other. There are a million things you can do and (most importantly) they're cheap!
The first night I was there I met an Austrian, Marco, who was heading to Baku national park the next day. We agreed to split the boat across to the park and ended up spending the whole day trekking through the jungle and chasing down and cornering protected wildlife so we could get a good photo. We adopted a Spanish girl and an American on the way back and spent the night drinking cheap beers with them on the waterfront while the local 'soft boys' and lady-boys came up to chat.
The next day Marco, the Spaniard and I headed up to the orang utan rehabilitation centre. It was raining, cold and we had to get up at 6am (why does everything have to start so early??? I'm going to need a holiday just to recover from this trip).
After standing in the wet jungle for half an hour without seeing anything it started to seem pretty funny: a dozen tourists standing in the middle of the wilderness expecting wild animals to perform for them. But then, right on cue, three orang utan turned up and did exactly that. Swinging around, eating bananas, all the usual stuff.
We were pretty happy with the outcome and were just about to leave when the park rangers started shoving us unceremoniously up the path. The dominant male was making his fashionably-late entrance and we were in his way. He was huge, and he knew it (don't you hate people like that?). He set about eating enormous amounts of bananas, giving us just enough time to get some blurry photos before he heaved himself up some vines and disappeared into the forest. We left feeling like we'd gotten our 3 ringgit-worth.
The next day I got up early again (sigh) and caught the river boat to Kapit, the "Gateway to Borneo", or so they'd have you believe.
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