From Borneo (Sabah, Brunei, Sarawak) Nov 18-Dec 12, 2008
Amazing Animals! We saw Orang utans in Semengoh rehabilitation center, Sarawak and Sepilok rehabilitation center, Sabah. Orang utans’ DNA is 96.4% exactly the SAME as OURS! We saw a baby who was 2 weeks old! The Orang utan (Orang in Malay is man, hutan is forest…so they are the men of the forest)are amazing. We were lucky to see so many and get great photos.
We also saw Proboscis monkeys in Bako National Park, Sarawak near Kutching and on the river in Brunei. At Bako National Park we also saw a BEARED PIG! Next to Sepikok at the Rainforest Discovery Center, we went on a canopy walk and saw WILD orang utans in the tree tops!
Brunei Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures; it truly is! Brunei is full of wonderful things. They are aware that their oil is running out and are working on ECO-TOURISM! In 2001, they first started to promote tourism and it is a wonderful place to visit.
In Bandar Seri Begawan, we saw both mosques at night all lit up and went into Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque during the day. Behind the mosque is the Kampung Ayer (water village) 30% of the city’s population lives in the village. They have their own schools and mosques!! The Brunei Museum had a great exhibit on oil and gas. With our friends, Rachel and Andrew, we took a sunset river cruise to see the proboscis monkeys and the sultan’s palace. We also went to the Night market, Jerodung Amusement Park with its “Bellagio” style dancing water fountains set to lights and music and the 6 star EMPIRE HOTEL! The people were very friendly and very helpful as we took public buses, taxis, water taxis and wandered the streets.
We also went to Ulu Temburong, the first National Park in Brunei. We took a local boat to Bangar (45 min $6 Br). The information hut found us a great guide and we were off with another couple to THE END OF THE ROAD (about 20min by car). Then we went by local longboat up river 45min. and we came to the hike up. It used to be 1200 steps up but they changed the route. I think it is 1199 now….We saw so many great trees and heard the birds…and climbed the canopy walk! It is the highest canopy walk in the world at 45meters. The day before Thanksgiving we went to the US Embassy to get more pages for our passports.
Scuba diving in SIPADAN Best diving EVER!!!Click this link to see us underwater with barracudas! It is rare that after tons of HYPE any activity can live up to its claim. George and I were amazed at the diving in Sipadan. The closest airport is in Tawau. We went by bus from Sepilok to Sempurna and then by boat to Mabul. We loved the Longhouse in Mabul (even if there were rats running on the roof and ants in our bed!) After 4 months traveling, we don’t even notice that to flush the toilets you have to fill up a bucket and pour it in.
We dove with a CLOUD or really a TORNADO of barracudas!! I think almost a thousand of them. YES we did take PHOTOS! and a VIDEO!!! It was such great diving. We saw a huge school of Jacks and also 6 turtles and sharks. On another dive I saw about 2 dozen sharks and turtles (24 of EACH!!) I did a great dive at SeaVenture (it is an oil rig near the island of Mabul) I saw crocodile fish, a blue ribbon eel, bump head parrot fish about as big as me and tons of nudibranchs. I also saw a PYGMY SEAHORSE!! It was about 3/4inch long. SO AMAZING! On a dive at Sibuan, I saw two black frogfish WALK on the bottom of the ocean! WOW! It was truly spectacular!
Borneo–a GREAT travel destination! Borneo ROCKS!! We had so many great adventures here!! From Orang utans to Proboscis Monkeys, to hiking in caves with bats and scuba diving with thousands of barracudas we have loved every minute! We stayed in longhouses and jungle huts and even went to a theme park!
From our first boat ride in Borneo, we were able to see the LOGGING. Sadly in Sabah and Sarawak, much of the primary forests have been logged. The dipterocarp trees are 40-70m long and have only branches at the top. You can still see a few at the parks and also many in Brunei. Now there are many palm tree plantations, they use them to get palm oil.
HIKING was great in Borneo. At Niah caves, near Miri, Sarawak, we saw Traders Cave, the Great cave and the Painted cave, inside there were so many BATS!!! Near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah we went to Mount Kinabalu the highest mountain in SE Asia. The clouds cleared one morning and we saw the peaks. We did several trails at 1500m but did not go the top at 4000m.
We were very lucky to meet and re-meet the same group of travelers in Borneo. We had so much fun we started traveling with Andrew and Rachel, Peter, and Sarah on purpose. Many of us met on the boat to Bako National Park and then all of us were staying at the Highlands Hostel in Miri. In Kota Kinabalu, we had three nights of dinners with our friends. It is great after being away for 4 months to show up in a city and to know people who stop by at your hotel to pick you up for dinner!
We are now in Tawau and will go tomorrow to Tarakan, Indonesia. In KK, we were able to get a 2 month visa for Indonesia–our tenative plan is to see part of Kilimantan, Java and Sumatra.
Happy December break to many of you!! Enjoy your travels and holidays! Best Wishes, Lisa and George.
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Award-winning travel expert Lisa Ellen Niver has explored 101 countries and talks travel on KTLA-TV and her website, We Said Go Travel, which is read in 212 countries. Her YouTube videos have nearly 900,000 views and she has more than 140,000 followers on social media (verified on Facebook and Twitter). She sailed on the high seas for seven years and she has been nominated for five Southern California Journalism Awards in the past two years and received 2nd place for her Jewish Journal article.
Niver has written for publications including AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Robb Report, Sierra Club, Smithsonian, Saturday Evening Post, United Airlines (Hemispheres) and USA Today 10Best.