Beautiful Borneo Continued…

August 14, 2015 at 10:52 am (Travel)

After a long overnight bus ride with some obviously interested Indian men, I was pleased to finally arrive in Kuching.  I managed to score a free ride from the long haul bus station into the city from a local and at my hostel I bumped into Gonnie, who I had been out to dinner with the night before in Miri.  She and two other Frenchies had been clever enough to catch a flight!

WP_20150724_09_38_10_ProThis begun a three and half day travel partnership and definitely made Kuching an enjoyable place to visit.  Gonnie and I visited museums, strolled through the city, tried random food, did a cooking course, spent an afternoon in the local swimming pool and even went shopping.  We really enjoyed checking out the various cat statues situated around the city as Kuching is the city of cats.  We also loved hiking round Bako National Park and took turns pointing out the three different types of monkeys to see there.  This included the proboscis monkeys with their distinctive noses that can only be found in Borneo!

Our highlight, however, was our visit to Semengoh to see semi wild orangutans.  At this nature reserve, these magnificent creatures are released back into the wild.  Every day the rangers provide them with a small selection of food and the orangutans decided whether to come and visit.  We had heard stories of visits where no orangutans turn up so we were relieved when six different one turned up.  We were particularly luck to see the alpha male Ritchie as well as a wide range of ages including a baby still hanging to his mother as she moved about.  This reserve somehow didn’t feel like a zoo and allowed us to admire these magnificent creatures from close up.  Did you know that their arms are twice as long as their legs?   I could watch them swing about all day!


It was sad when Gonnie left me, but I still had time for my adventures in Kuching.  I visited the cat museum with three lovely Irish girls and had a pamper day at a local spa.  All in all I just enjoyed having time to spare, exploring the city at my own pace and utilising the pool table at the roof top bar.

IMG_2947I also had one of the best travel experiences of my life in this city.  When Gonnie and I visited the swimming pool, we noticed that the local hockey ground was situated behind it.  Of course I was ridiculously excited when I realised they were watering the ground and after our swim we went over for a sticky beak.  We managed to get caught at the ground in a huge storm but I did score an invite to join training later in the week.  It took a bit of courage, but I turned up and had lots of fun playing with the group of men.  They ranged in both age and hockey level and I was able to keep up without any problems and even managed to score three goals.  Amusingly, all the men on my team had to play without t-shirts on because otherwise I couldn’t tell who was on each team.  This was a really fun and authentic travel experience and my favourite thing about my whole four weeks in Malaysia.

Before I knew it, I was on my way to my last destination in Borneo, Sandakan. Here I visited the Rainforest Discovery Center and spotted hornbills all on my own.  I also saw a giant squirrel and a pig tailed macaw.  I also went to the sun bear rehabilitation center, the only one in the world.  Sun bears are the smallest bear in the world and because they are small and cute, often taken as pets.  This often leaves them with huge psychological scars and the center works towards healing these.  It did feel quite zoo like, but the place has its heart in the right place and are hopefully making a difference to the sun bear population in Borneo.

In Sandakan I met Sarah and we spent a day together at the POW memorial park before heading to the Kinabatangan river for a two night tour.  It was hard to imagine the atroscities that happened at the POW camp because the park is absolutely beautiful. The exhibition and walkways have been built in co-operation with the Australian government and they have truly done a respectful job.  The memorial park was the starting point for the three so called Death marches to Ranau that occurred near the end of WWII.  Of all the men who took part in these death marches, only six survived, and only because they managed to escape.  I was truly moved and am grateful to have had the opportunity to reflect and experience this part of Australian history.

IMG_2982My last exciting adventure in Borneo was a wildlife spotting trip down the Kinabatangan river.  This involved four boat trips, two cancelled night walks due to rain and a day hike, which was more like a stroll.  We did get lucky with our animal spotting though.  We saw lots of different birds including more hornbills and kingfishers, as well as snakes and a whole heap of monkeys.  We were particularly lucky to see rare wild orangutans and a crocodile, but unfortunately the pygmy elephants eluded us.  On our walk we were treated to a free fish nibbling manicure/pedicure, a very weird feeling that I am in no rush to try again.  😉

After a night in the Four Points Sheraton hotel to treat myself at the end of my four weeks in Borneo, I flew to Kuala Lumpur keen to catch up with the beautiful Natalie.  Natalie has just moved 11826071_882600559407_4462529146039333167_nto Kuala Lumpur for a new job and will be sadly missed here in Stuttgart.  We had an absolutely amazing three days together and I really enjoyed exploring her new city with her.  My favourite part was watching her excitement at all the things the city has to offer and getting her flat organised.  I also enjoyed seeing the Petronas Towers at night with her new colleague Nathalie and wandering through the various markets.

This was a wonderful way to finish my trip and I have arrived back in Stuttgart a changed person.  I’m feeling much more happier, positive and in control of my situation and people have been commenting on how relaxed I look.  I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and I’m hoping this positive outlook stays with me for a long time to come.  I’m determined to smile more and make the most of this next year.


P.s  Check out my Borneo Photo of the Day Album here

P.p.s  More photos?  Click here



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