Borneo jungle adventure

Brunei was only the beginning. The real adventure began after a long trip to eastern borneo: Sabah. I left Bandar Seri Begawan early in the morning to get on a bus that would bring me to Kota Kinabalu. The trip takes around 8 hours predominantly due to 8 immigration controls. Brunei kind of has a weird shape so you leave Brunei, enter Malaysia to go back to Brunei and finally leave it – if that makes sense. Eight stamps later we were on the road through beautiful beautiful borneo. The whole area around Mt Kinabalu is national park so I didn’t get tired of watching the rain forest around me. I originally planned to have a look at KK before I flew to Sandakan at night, but when we arrived it rained in torrents, so I had no choice but spending the time at KK airport.
From Sandakan it’s a 20 minutes drive to Sepilok, where I stayed at coolest eco hostel ever, you should check it out: Paganakan Dii Tropical Retreat. I had the huge open dorm by myself and woke up with the sun in my face. I rained pretty bad ever since I left Brunei so I was kind of worried about what was yet to come…
The next morning I went to the Sepilok Orang-Utan sanctuary. They open two times a day for two to three hours, when they feed the monkeys. It is not a zoo so there is no guarantee you actually see a lot of the cute animals with the bronze fur. I really liked the facilities since it was basically natural rain forest with one circular path. The majority of orang-utans I saw were around the building of their so-called nursery. This is where the freshly arrived orang-utans live and get trained. The concept of the sanctuary is of course to reintegrate sick or orphaned orang-utans back to nature. I stayed until they closed the gates and took way too many photos haha. But orang-utans are just too adorable, I can’t help it! On my way out I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to see one from close up, when suddenly a big one walked past me on the railing. I was so surprised, I didn’t manage to take a decent photo, but wow what a moment!

After that well-spent morning it was time to get going into the jungle. I went on a three-day-camping-wildlife watching-jungle tour, something that has been on top of my bucket list ever since somebody told me about it. In fact every traveler I met in Indonesia, who went to Borneo or Sulawesi said it was the best part of their trip. This is an experience of a lifetime! I mean borneo has – reduced in number – the most amazing animals and rainforest. There are orang-utans of course, the borneo elephant, huge crocodiles and I think about 15,000 plants. And many of them aren’t discovered yet. Recently researchers found some frog with out a lung that can fly. All in all a very exciting and unique eco system.

I did my tour with Uncle Tan’s, which was the first company of its kind I reckon and I can really recommend it. We first went on a van for 1.5 hours to go deeper into the forest. The huge palm oil plantations I got to see were even bigger than I though. It was awful… When you see something like that in real life it is very eye-opening. But I still go to the market to buy palm oil in the plastic bags, because imported oil is so expensive and I am pretty sure I won’t fulfill the resolution to stop eating nutella once I’m back home; this is just sad… The camp site is only to be reached by boat so we drove for another 1.5 hours on the brown river deeper into the forest. Everything looked just like I had expected it, I was so excited for everything that was gonna come. Then the most lucky thing happened: This very first boat trip on the way to the camp was when we saw 3 (!!!) wild orang-utans. I still can’t believe it! They are actually so rare, even some villagers have never seen any in their whole life. The first one was doing some artistic exercise between two trees and the other two were mommy and baby aww. This experience was worth all the effort already – and the tour had just begun. That night we went trekking around the camp to spot some nocturnal rodents I guess, but we didn’t find any. Later on the boat we saw loads of monkeys among others the famous bornean proboscis monkey, the one with the weird nose. The next morning we woke up early to go on the boat again. In the morning hours you can watch a lot of birds. Later we wanted to go trekking in the forest but after 10 minutes it started to rain badly again. It was so bad that trees started falling so our guide decided we had to go back. I was so pissed in that moment but it didn’t stop all day and he was probably right that it gets dangerous. After dinner though we went back to that place for night trekking, which was the most amazing thing ever. Think about it: walking through the jungle of Borneo when it’s completely dark – unforgettable. Our guide brought a big lamp so he could show as the sleeping birds, while I head a really hard time to walk with my booties through the mud with out making a noise. We basically saw some colorful birds, huge bats as big as raptors and one of these big white jungle rats, but that one was quick…
On the third day we had our last morning boat ride and then it was time to say goodbye already. I am very happy about everything we saw! Usually you can find a lot of crocodiles there, but it was high tide then so you couldn’t see them. No hands in the water though since the 5 meter animals are somewhere in there of course. On the way back to the civilization we saw a small one though, so lucky again haha! So all in all a very big YES on my bucket list, even though my very loyal timberlands are nibbled off by rats now oh well… Thinking about the people of Kinabatangan though is a crazy. They live there, away from the rest of the world, together with all these animals. One time we saw this big boat passing by and it was actually a clinic! It comes there every month or every second, unbelievable. Completely different to the other part of Malaysia across the ocean, where I went to next…

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