Borneo is a lush green island with a rich variety of flora and fauna. With geological interest too, the main tourist draw is trekking. Borneo also has an interesting tribal history and although the tribes still exist, they now largely live in modern housing in towns. The modern world’s pressures apply here just as anywhere, and cutting down the jungle for timber or to make way for more profitable palm plantations has meant there now has to be a focus on ensuring migration corridors are kept in tact so that animal populations don’t become ‘stuck’ and their survival threatened. Nonetheless, around 50% of the island remains rain forest, and it is the oldest rain forest in the world.
The island is split between three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, and we spent our time solely in Malaysian Borneo (as the Indonesian part is malarial). I wrote about the country of Malaysia here, so just a little addition about Borneo today. I was interested to see whether we’d experience a rather different Malaysia to Pensinsular Malaysia, and the Borneo locals answered that their part of Malaysia is more relaxed and inclusive. From my traveller perspective, Pensinsular Malaysia was already very relaxed and inclusive, and it was a real pleasure to enjoy their warm, friendly, gracious hospitality again in Borneo. To try to quantify they way the people are, imagine no road rage, no wariness of strangers, and service industry people proud and happy. The quality Malaysian infrastructure and rich variety in food again mirrored peninsular Malaysia. Suffice it to say I am a big fan of this country.
Kuching is an attractive riverside town/city. From there Bako National Park is a bus and boat ride away, where we were treated to animal encounters galore as we trekked around the jungle and the mangrove. Up near Kota Kinabalu, we stayed at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria, with its own white sand bay and nature reserve. The whole experience at that resort was one of the best I’ve encountered, with the attention to detail. Time for some pics.
The wild beauty:
Silver leaf monkey:
A flying lemur:
The curious-looking proboscis monkey:
A highly venomous viper:
The iconic Borneo orangutang: