Jungle Love

Western Sabah, Malaysia

If you’ve never given much thought to the large island in Southeast Asia known as Borneo, I’ll go over the basics. The Island is split between the nations of Malaysia (where we were), Indonesia, and the very small Kingdom of Brunei. The other important thing about Borneo is that it is home to some of the most diverse plant life and animals anywhere in the world.

We spent a good amount of time on the Kinabatangan River, cruising around and doing some trekking, here are some highlights:

Proboscis Monkey


Our favorite stray - who decided Tim's lap was her rightful place in life

Jungle Trekking

We also saw orangutans (pictures below are better), Crocodiles, and more types of monkeys and birds. The kitten on Tim’s lap really did have an obsession with him. She ran in our room when we first got there, and from then on was either on Tim’s lap purring or meowing to be allowed to do so.

The Jungle Trek was wet, and we spent a good deal of time removing leeches from our clothes and one managed to latch on to each of us. I hate leeches. The jungle is actually being destroyed even through it is protected. Illegal Palm plantations are constantly showing up. Recently a beautiful lake was ruined when a chinese university student did an experiment to see how quickly a particular plant would grow there – the answer was very, very fast. Our guide called it the “Single Mistake.”

We headed to Sepilok next. One of the main draws there is the Sepilok rehabilitation center that helps Urangutans become reentered back into the wild that have captured, sometimes to be sold or to be kept as pets.

It was a great experience. But the end was what truly made the experience memorable. We were walking out of the reserve and wondering if they have a way to keep the orangutans in certain areas. The answer is no. We saw one hanging out on the side as we came around the corner and instantly joined about 15 other people in taking pictures. Then the orangutan came down to the viewing platform and everyone ran. I would have ran too but another girl and I were stuck on the landing area between the orangutan and the rest of the walkway.

First he grabbed the other girls hand. Then he decided he wanted to grab mine. I walked with him to a French guy whose hand he took before lifting himself up like a toddler. (There is video in the album section) It was a breath-taking moment though. I had heard that, like the monkeys, sometimes the orangutans will be interested in shiny things, and the camera I had was shiney. I thought he wanted to take it. But when he grabbed my hand and I looked at him it was 100% clear that he wanted affection and love. He looked me in the eye like a child, and his hand felt like one too. I’ve never felt so guilty in my life of expecting ulterior motives from anyone.

People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.
– Joseph Campbell


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dave
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 14:06:34

    Wow, that is amazing with the Orangutans! Love the quote at the end too.


  2. Sarah
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 14:41:31

    Wow…that is incredible! I shuddered about you both finding leeches stuck to you. The urangotan pictures are beautiful…that guy even looks french! the embrace is very touching.


  3. Sarahmoyik
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 21:40:19

    So can I gather from this post that Nousa will have some new friends to play with as you begin adopting new animals while on your travels? : ).


  4. Elise
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 05:16:39

    Did you notice that Tim’s kitten is a baby Chino!?!?! No wonder he didn’t like you as much 😉
    Pics are amazing!! I’m sending a couple to National Geographic! So amazing about the orangutans! If I tell Tina she’ll pass out from jealousy. Miss you!! xoxo


    • wheresbatman
      Jan 25, 2011 @ 05:57:24

      Tim and I totally noticed – there are a lot of baby Chinos running around Asia. This one was seriously the size of a mouse though. Tim was always her first choice but she did jump up on my lap a few times and refuse to budge too. Probably the most persistent cat we’ve ever met.


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