Friday, May 4, 2012

Borneo: Paradise Found, Part One

Welcome to Borneo, the third largest island in the world and one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.  We visited the two Malaysian States in Borneo, Sarawak and Sabah.  Click the link to read about our time in Sarawak, where we answered the call of the wild, and found paradise at every turn.

The Borneo rainforest is one of the few remaining natural habitats for orangutans--over 90% of the world's wild orangutans live on Borneo.  We visited the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for a peek at our ginger-haired cousins (no, not the Irish!).  At feeding time, the orangutans swing by to see what the park rangers are serving up for dinner.  As you can see from the above video, you can detect the approach of the orangutans by the swaying of the trees in the distance.  "Orangutan" is a local word that means, "old man of the forest."  It was a wonderful experience seeing these amazing "old" men and women go about their business.

We visited Bako National Park to spend a day hiking in the Borneo rainforest, which is the oldest rainforest in the world.  The only way to enter the national park is by taking a boat.  During low tide, the boats drop their passengers off on a large, muddy, empty beach, as shown above.

The above photos show the difference between the tides at Bako National Park--the first photo was taken at low tide and the second was taken from the same spot at high tide.

With the coming of high tide, monkeys scour the sand for crabs.

The jungle at Bako is stuffed to the treetops with wildlife.  We saw many different types of monkeys (including the endangered proboscis monkey), and had a close encounter with an energetic feral pig.  One of our most interesting animal sightings is shown in the above video: a dark-haired monkey breast-feeds a ginger-haired baby monkey.

The jungle trails in Bako consisted of tree roots on the ground and green foliage in every direction.  The ideal recipe for a tropical rainforest is constant hot temperatures, a lot of humidity, and a variety of mountainous terrain.  It quickly became clear during our visit to Bako that the Borneo rainforest is an ideal tropical rainforest.  Normally I don't sweat much, but take a look at the above video to see how the Borneo rainforest easily defeated my anti-perspirant.
A few times during our long hike in Bako, we emerged from the dense jungle to find a beautiful, deserted beach.  It's tough to be anything but peaceful when sitting on this beach.

We spent another day hiking in Kubah National Park, which features a rainforest terrain that is more mountainous than the coastal rainforest of Bako.

The highlight of our Kubah hike was the discovery of a series of beautiful (and refreshing) waterfalls deep in the jungle.
The capital of Sarawak is Kuching, which features a beautiful riverfront that shines especially bright at sunset.

Sarawak possesses a richly spiritual society formed from the diversity of religions of its people.  Christians make up 43% of the population, Muslims 32%, and Chinese Buddhists 20%.  We happened to be in town during Easter weekend, and the bells from the churches could be heard all over town.  (The photo above of St. Thomas' Cathedral was taken during the Good Friday service, and I can only guess that the little girl running from the church was getting a head start on the Easter egg hunt.)

We met nothing but friendly people in Kuching.  Despite the diversity of ethnicities and religions of the people, the area seemed peaceful and harmonious.  Perhaps it is easier to live in peace and harmony when paradise can be found in every direction.

No comments:

Post a Comment