Category Archives: Borneo

A Few Clouds

I’ve been waiting for the perfect sunset for over 7 years since our trip to Hawaii. We spent almost two weeks in Hawaii without a spectacular sunset.

Upon returning from Hawaii my friend Patty told me perhaps our weather was too nice for an amazing sunset. You need a few clouds to make the magic.

Then last year in Borneo I saw some magic from our hotel room window.

The next night was even more amazing from our small boat in the mangroves.

And last week in Krabi, Thailand…Mother Nature was just showing off…I felt light headed because it was so beautiful.Or perhaps it was because I kept forgetting to breathe.Because if I did breathe, maybe the colors would vanish.And I would wake up from this dream.Then the next night somehow was even more spectacular…the type of sunset where it’s appropriate to be completely quiet, reverent to your surroundings or to shout out with joyous exclamations of disbelief (I switched back and forth between silence and outbursts).You’re right Patty, a few clouds can make all the difference.

Pitcher Plants

A few months ago when we were hiking in Bako National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia on Borneo we came across several varieties of pitcher plants. I have always been fascinated by these carnivorous plants! They actually tempt bugs into them by their bright colors and/or sweet nectar, then the bugs drown (unable to escape from their wax coated walls and sometimes grooved edges). Then the plant secrets an enzyme that slowly digests the insects. These plants are usually found in areas where the soil is not rich enough to support plant life. Our guide, once she saw my excitement, spent a lot of time explaining all the different ones we saw! Here’s my best summary (including too many photos)…

Here is the first pitcher plant I saw (yes, I was taking photos before our guide quit explaining about it). I didn’t realize they could get so big! Notice this one has a “roof”. That is to keep the rain out. Not all pitcher plants have them. The ones that don’t fill with rain and either overflow and lose their food (insects) or the rainwater dilutes the enzyme that digests their food and makes it much less effective.picture plantHere’s a pitcher plant that is about to “bloom”. Notice how tightly it is grabbing on to the branch!ready to bloomOne of my favorite photos of the day! This one doesn’t have a roof but the leaf above the plant did keep out most of the rainwater.favoriteThe first ground variety we saw. The spikes are to help the insects climb up because the outside, although it is not wax coated like the inside, is still pretty slick.ground varietyHere’s another shot to show how large they get. Even though this one is on the ground, it’s not a ground variety. It just chose too weak of a branch to support it so it ended up on the ground!as big as a water bottleThese are tiny ones, about the size of my thumb. There are five total in this photo although there were almost 20 going up this tree. Notice they all have roofs. Two of them are brown and dying.tinyHere’s a different ground variety. Notice it doesn’t have a roof, but it has a non-helpful leaf sticking out where the roof should be! Also notice how high the water level is and there are no insects in it’s “soup”.…it needs a roof!no roofA cluster of different sized picture plants.clusterThis pitcher plant is beautiful, but not smart. It is firmly attached to a blade of grass. It won’t be long until the grass fails, or the plant gets to heavy and pitcher plants do not work when they are lying on their side!grass grabberThis one is confused about which direction is up. It looks like if it gets very full it will pour out it’s contents.  Of course at this angle, I don’t think it’s going to get very full with bugs or water!brilliantThis one really shows the ribbed and waxy edge that would be so difficult to hold on to, even if you had eight legs!ridgesSometimes they are really high up in the trees.tall treesAren’t they colorful, beautiful and elegant? Doesn’t it make you want to have a peek at what is inside? Don’t Slip! 😉Beautiful

King Kong

Just a few kilometers outside of Kuching, (in Sarawak, Malaysia on Borneo) Greg and I visited a wildlife center that is trying to help the local wild apes.  Staring at this orang utan, my first and repetitive thought was it’s King Kong!  I know this isn’t actually King Kong (only because he’s a gorilla and this guy is an orang utan).  However, I was in a state of disbelief because of his size, I felt I was on the set for a science fiction film and any minute a giant sized human would pop off his “ape” hood costume!  Notice the size of his hands and his giant fingers in relationship to this pineapple!  He makes the pineapple look more like an orange!  This guys name was Big Eddie and apparently he hadn’t been to the feeding platform in several weeks!  The rangers were really excited that he was there and we were too! Big Eddie eating pineappleOrang utans are a species of great apes.  The only exist in the wild on Borneo or Sumatra islands.  The 25 or so adult and baby orang utans we saw that day were all wild.  However, the rangers put food on two platforms twice a day for any orang utans in the area that might need it.  They explained that both drought and forest cutting has lessened the apes natural food supply enough that they need supplemental food.  If the apes are hungry they come to the platform.  If they don’t need food they don’t come.  Some of the apes come daily, while others are very sporadic.  Here’s another shot of Big Eddie, of his massive back while he’s sitting down, he weighs over 300 lbs!  I cannot emphasize enough how huge he was!  Also notice his semi-crimped hair… Eddie's backHere’s a tooth shot!  He’s almost smiling…I think his pineapple must taste pretty good! Eddie's teethWhen he was finished eating he climbed the tree so fast!  He was amazingly agile! eddie's back climbingDoes he look more like Donkey Kong or King Kong here? donkey kongHere’s an example of one swinging around so confidently up so high! acrobaticsThis girl was so cute!  It’s almost like she was posing for me, except for her “get away” arm that can yank her back to safety if necessary! eat and runHere’s one that was showing off her curved fingers and toes…just hanging around!  She was watching us and we were watching her, she seemed to like the attention!  I don’t even remember seeing her eat; she just came for the “human” show!hangAnother favorite of mine, this girl was sliding down the rope; orang utans must not get rope burn! slideIt was so fun to watch the apes and I’m so glad that there is an organization trying to help feed them so they don’t die of starvation!

Two Firsts and A Good Friday

I recently spent 5 days in Kota Kinabalu.  (Greg went two days earlier for a conference).  Even though I snorkeled several times in Bali and Thailand, I have not been scuba diving yet in Asia.  Since Greg needed an R&R day and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park was 10 minutes by boat from our hotel, I decided to dive on Good Friday.  Here is the view of Gaya Island from our hotel.Gaya IslandDownbelow Dive Center is actually located on Gaya Island.  They had a beautiful private bay including a house coral reef.  I had as much fun snorkeling on their reef in between dives as I did diving.  Here’s a view of their bay when the tide was out.Downbelow Dive Center on Gaya IslandIn addition to it being my first time diving in Asia, it was my first time to dive with an underwater camera!  Here is the first photo I took with my rented underwater camera!first photoDiving with an underwater camera was so much fun!  Underwater photography sure has some difficult circumstances!  My disclaimers are:  1) The poorest visibility I have ever had while diving, good lighting is essential for good photos and due to the recent full moon and the fine sand around our dive sights our dive master expressed regret for our poor visibility.  2)  I had difficulty holding the camera steady with the underwater current moving me!  No, I didn’t grab on to any coral…I’m a smarter diver than that!  3)  Pretty fish are camera shy!!  I saw some amazing fish and the second I pointed my camera at them they darted away!  Then I’d put my camera away and they’d come back and visit me.  We repeated this cycle throughout my dives, much to my dismay!  So, with that in mind, here are a few more photos!  None of them are great, many are a bit blurry but they are special to me!  I especially like the ones of the turtle! [rockyou id=136637283&w=450&h=337]
After 3 dives I returned to the hotel to a very relaxed Greg and we went for a sun and swim at the pool.  Then we went to Helen Beauty Reflexology in Warisan Square and I had a one hour foot reflexology followed by a one hour massage for less than $20 USD.  Fortunate for me, my massage was one of the best I’ve ever had!  (Greg did not have as good of an experience and ended up with a sore back the rest of the trip!)  Then we ate a yummy dinner including a delicious dessert!  Even though it was not religious, it was a really Good Friday!