A fantastic twelve days spent with the old man in Borneo, taking in rainforests, wildlife, traditional tribes and scuba diving. Too few photos to choose from as we spent most of our time in caves or gloomy rainforests… my camera couldn’t cope with the conditions. We also saw a host of incredible wildlife that was either too far away or too quick to capture.
A is for… Abraham Lincoln. The Deer Cave in Mulu (so called because the bat guano dissolves into the water, creating a salty fluid that deers used to enter the cave to drink) has an unusual rock formation at one of its entrances. I am unsure whether this was created by nature or entrepreneurial local…
B is for… Blowpipe. We spent dad’s birthday going round the Sarawack Cultural Village. Representatives from the traditional tribes of Borneo live in longhouses on site, and tourists are able to experience a range of activities. This includes the pictured blowpipe – amazingly good fun!
C is for… Condom plant. I forgot the latin name for this, but weirdly the nickname stuck in my mind.
D is for… Durian fruit. I have no photographic proof that I ate this, but trust me I did. If you have never heard of durian fruit before, it is renowned for its terrible smell. People claim that durian tastes sweet, despite its garlicky, diesely vomitty smell. I disagree. I think it tastes of garlic, diesel and vomit.
E is for… Exodus. One of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed. The deer cave (see A is for…) is home to between 2 and 3 million bats. At dusk, they come out to hunt down mosquitos and other insects. On our first day in Mulu, we trekked 3.5km to the caves, and sat outside the entrance, waiting to witness the famous bat exodus. 2 hours later, we trekked back having seen zero bats. Disappointed, we decided that we’d chance it the next night – and thank goodness we did. Second time around, we sat there with low expectations, when suddenly a cloud of moving bats appeared. These clouds poured out of the cave at regular intervals, forming long barralleing columns of bats (apparantly to ward of potential predators). Simply stunning to behold.
F is for… Fishy feet. During our time in Kinabalu national park, we stopped off to experience a river massage by some fish. The river is thick with schools of slow moving river fish who crowd around your feet. When you drop in some food, they swarm over you and tickle your feet. It was UTTERLY bizarre.
G is for… Graveyard. This mosque in Kuching featured a fantastically higgledy-piggledy graveyard, which is handy as I love using the phrase “higgledy-piggledy”.
H is for… High five. This photo shows where I get my sense of humour from…! (For an explanation of the giant cat, see K is for…)
I is for… Insect. On our trek to the bat cave, we saw a variety of minibeasts, include this stick insect. Our guide was texting throughout the trek, and yet was able to spot the insects as we went. I suspect they are all geotagged, and he was using the phone to track their GPS coordinates…
J is for… Jellyfish. The caves of mulu were host to some impressive stalactites and stalagmites. This is one of the stalactite formations in the caves of mulu, nicnamed “the jellyfish”.
K is for… Kuching. Our starting off point was Kuching. As with many place name etymologies, there is uncertainty about where the name comes from. However, the most popular is that it comes from the Malay word “kucing”, meaning cat. There are several HUGE cat statues around the city, many of which actually feature nine separate cats to represent the nine lives of a cat (though surely this actually represents 81 lives…).
L is for… Lightning on Lankayan island. Lankayan island was our final destination. Accessable via a 90 minute speedboat ride, this TINY island is so remote that it’s nearly impossible to see any other land whilst you are there. The crystal clear waters make for stunning scuba diving. However, there were also some of the most incredbile thunderstorms I have ever witnessed. On the final night, I took several hundreds of photos trying to capture the lightning over the pier. Only a few came out, but for me that’s part of the joy of photography.
M is for… Mimicry. Lots of animals were mighty hard to spot thanks to their nifty camouflage.
N is for… Newborns. Lankayan island is also a turtle bredding hotspot. They work hard to promote the conservation of turtles by rehousing the laid eggs in purpose built nests, then releasing the turtles on the beach. We saw this brood emerge from their nest under the sand, then lined up on the beach to see them scurry towards the water. I have now witnessed turtles laying eggs and baby turtles being released. There’s really only one other part of the reproductive cycle of turtles that I need to tick off… not sure I want to though!
O is for… Orangutan. Native to Indonesia and Borneo, orangutans are amazing creatures. The word orangutan means “person of the forest”, and they are remarkably human-like in their movement and appearance (albeit slightly hairier). This was in a conservation forest where they live semi-wild, but come to viewing platforms for feeding time.
P is for… Pattern. A pretty shell on a washed up tree trunk on Lankayan island.
Q is for… Quartet. Whilst staying in Kinabalu national park, I went for a walk. These girls smiled and waves, and when I asked if I could photo them, they broke out into the poses you see here. The more children I meet from different parts of the world, the more I realise: kids are all the same!
R is for… Rafflesia. These are the world’s largest flowers (growing up to 3 feet across). The no entry sign here is a sheet of A4 paper for size-reference… so this is clearly a fairly small scale version of the plant!
S is for… Scaly. Another beautiful creature spotted on our Mulu trek.
T is for… Totem pole. These are situated outside the remarkably good museum in Kuching (when you travel fairly widely, you begin to really apprecaite good museums as you generally have to wade through an awful lot of crap ones to find the gold).
U is for… Umbrella. It was very, very wet during our time in Kinabalu national park. My dad and I both neglected to pack any waterproofs (all this travel and still no common sense). Our guide Adam had to help out at times to allow dad the chance to get the perfect photos.
V is for… Vats. A neat display spotted in a village near to the Mulu national park.
W is for… Waterfall. I already shared this photo on facebook, but I couldn’t resist sharing it again. Me and the old man attempting to do our best Peter Andre impressions in a freezing cold waterfall.
X is for… Xs under the pier. LOOK, X IS A HARD LETTER…
Y is for… Yoda statue. This statue (not actually of Yoda) is located in the Sarawack cultural museum. It was donated by a Japanese artist… and that’s about all the information we could get on it.
Z is for… Zebra fish. On a snorkelling trip on Lankayan island, I tested out the underwater camera housing that Rosie B-A kindly gave me as a leaving present. The coral is beautiful and colourful, but the fish show up better in black and white…