Malaysia, a country where you can find true nature. In 2007 I traveled with my family for the first time to the beautiful Asia. We decided to make one last holiday trip together as a family before we would all make our own holiday plans. We picked Malaysian Borneo as a travel destination because it was my father’s dream since he was a child to visit Borneo and he really wanted to show it to us. So on Friday the 13th of July 2007 we got on an airplane and left the Netherlands for 4 weeks and started discovering Malaysia. During this trip I saw a lot of true nature and wildlife. Malaysia is a perfect destination for your first Asian encounter because of the friendly people, it’s rather western appearance and the ability to drink tap water. In Malaysia it is very easy to rent a car. During our walk through the city, we found a car rental and we decided to just rent a car there.
From the Netherlands to Malaysia it takes an eleven-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur. From KL it takes a little less than 2 hours to get to Kuching, the largest city on the island of Borneo.
In Kuching we stayed in a Crown Plaza, the only hotel we booked beforehand, so we could recover from the long flight. Next day we woke up early so we would not have a jetlag that much, had breakfast in the hotel, and after that we made a short walk through the city. In the evening we had dinner in the so called howkerstalls. You’ll find this throughout Malaysia. It’s often a square were you can find all kinds of market stalls with different kinds of food. Fish, beef, pork, chicken and vegetables, every category has it’s own stall. You can just sit down in the middle and order whatever you want at which ever stand you like and they will prepare it for you while you sit in the centre of the stalls.
The next day we left Kuching and headed off to Bako National Park, this is a protected part of the rainforest were you can find a special monkey: the Proboscis Monkey. You can only get here by boat. So we left our car again on the parking lot and got on the boat that took us to the national park. In this park we rented a cabin were we stayed the night. They set out different trails through the park so you can find your own way. It didn’t take a long time before we saw our first Proboscis Monkey.
Another highlight of our stay in Malaysia was our visit to Gunung Gading NP, here we could see the Giant Refflesia Flower. This is the biggest flower in the world, and it takes the flower 9months to grow but it blooms only 5 to 7 days. You have to be lucky because it’s not always possible to see the blooming flower. We were lucky, during our stay there was a flower blooming and there were two buds, one from 5 months and one from 8 months, and there was a flower who had died 3 weeks before.
If you visit Malaysia-Borneo you have to go to Bario NP, this is not very touristic yet and is a great gateway to head into the rainforest. You can only fly there with a small airplane of only 18persons airplane, there is no other way to get there. It is so remote that we could not use our mobile phones, there was a internet connection, but only when it was a bright day. Here in Bario you can find the traditional Longhouses, this is one big house for an entire family. If the family gets bigger, they just build an extra part to the house. In this town we met 2 guides that brought us inside the rainforest and showed us how to cook our own meal from food we can find in the rainforest. With a machete we had to find our way through the forest. We brought a tent so we could stay the night, and the next morning the guides brought us back home.
In 1999 there was a survival show on the British television called Survival Island. This was a show were people had to survive on an uninhabited island. Now a days this island is accessible for tourist. The name is Pulau Tiga, and this island has a very relax atmosphere, with no power on the island it was very ‘back to basic’. It was also a very nice divers spot. In the middle of the island you can also find a mud bath.
My last highlight when I think of my stay in Borneo is the trip on the Kinabatangan river. We stayed at a place called Kinabatangan Jungle Camp. This was a camp were you could stay in the jungle, but very upstream so away from the city. This river is well known for its wild life and the best time to spot the wildlife is early in the morning. So we left at 6 o’clock in the morning to see wildlife. Eventually we saw a lot of birds, like the Hornbill, Kingfishers, Eagles, the rare Fish Eagle and wild boar. But the highlight of our trip was the Orangutang with a baby!