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First Posted: July 7, 2007
Apr 7, 2012

Borneo Adventure

by Debora Johnson

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Head hunting skills!

Day 1: Depart USA. Our fascinating journey began in the evening with a flight bound for Malaysia. Flight departed late.

Day 2: We crossed the International Date Line and lost one day en route.

Day Hubby and I arrived in Kuching. Upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, we connected for a short flight to Kuching, the gateway to the legendary island of Borneo. We were escorted to our deluxe hotel. (Hilton Hotel)

Day 4: Kuching is nestled on the banks of the Sarawak River. This morning we discovered the charms of this captivating city established by Sir James Brooke, the first White Rajah of the province of Sarawak. We saw buildings dating back to the days of the White Rajahs, ancient Chinese temples, and colorful markets displaying the produce that first brought traders to Borneo. We visited the Sarawak Museum which displays an excellent collection of Bornean ethnological and archaeological artifacts.

Day 5: Our hotel was ideally located for independent exploration. We wandered through the narrow bustling streets lined with shops and observed craftsmen at work. We took a tour to Bako National Park, one of the best places in Sarawak to see wildlife in a natural surrounding. The various types of animals spotted at Bako include proboscis and silver leaf monkeys, long tail macaques, wild boars, lizards and numerous species of birds that make the tropical rain forest their home.

Day 6: Kuching/Batang Ai. We ventured today into the heart of Borneo for Batang Ai reservoir. Husband and I wove our way through rural Sarawak, passing pepper gardens, cocoa and rubber plantations. En route, we visited a colorful native market where a variety of jungle produce was on display. We visited a pepper garden and viewed wild orchids and several species of pitcher plants. Upon arrival at the Batang Ai reservoir, we proceeded by boat to a unique resort hotel, surrounded by mountains and unspoiled tropical rain forest. (Hilton Longhouse Resort)

Day 7: Longhouse Excursion. A special treat awaited us today as we sailed by longboat down the river to an authentic longhouse. This is a unique way of living where the whole village is built under one roof. We visited the longhouse, experienced the legendary Iban hospitality and learned about their fascinating culture and customs. We proceeded to a nearby school catering to over a hundred children from different villages in the vicinity before returning to the resort.

Day 8: Batang Ai/Kuching. Today we enjoyed a leisurely drive back to Kuching. En route we stoped at a Lachau, a small Chinese village where you may observe barter trading by the natives and enjoy. (Hilton Hotel)

Day 9: Kuching/Kota Kinabalu/Sandakan. A short morning flight brought us to the tropical paradise of Kota Kinabalu, the Capital of Sabah Province. Here, we enjoyed Signal Hill. It has a panoramic view of the entire city and the scenic islands off the South China Sea. We visited the Sabah Foundation building and the Phu Thou Se Chinese Temple. We rode horses on the beach and into and all around Kota. We enjoyed banana daiquiris with our guide and owner of these horses. She also owns some stallions, mares, and ponies that she breeds to race at the track in Kota Kinabalu. She had immigrated to Borneo 30+ years prior, married a local gentleman, and stared her own pony and horse business. I must warn you to go early in the morning, as the temperatures rise to above 98 degrees with very high humidity. Early riding is a must! The same goes for early daiquiris! The track and pony races are fun to see if you have a chance. Our horses were polo ponies that had belonged to the Sultan of Brunai. The horses had been flown in from Argentia for the Sultan's polo playing needs. After the ride, we waded the horses into the ocean to cool them down. That was also great fun. Next stop was a flight to Sandakan, after riding and lunch. It is home to one of the only four remaining Orangutan sanctuaries in the world. (Sabah Hotel)

This morning was so private--you see so much more by horseback!

Day 10: We had an unforgettable visit this morning to the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary where captive orangutans are reintroduced into the wild. Hubby and I were able to observe them at their feeding stations in the rain forest and watch a presentation on the Orangutans rehabilitation program. We returned to Sandakan for lunch and embarked on a sightseeing tour around Sandakan's various scenic sites including the Chinese Temple, the water villages and houses on stilts.

Day 11: Sandakan/Kota Kinabalu. We boarded a short flight to Kota Kinabalu nestled on the shores of the South China Sea fronting majestic Mount Kinabalu. Upon arrival, a leisurely drive into the countryside, passing by rice fields and megaliths was very much enjoyed. We saw the typical village of the "Kadazan," Sabah's largest ethnic group. At the Monsopiad Cultural Village, we met with the descendant of the famous "Monsopiad," known as the greatest headhunter warrior in early centuries and saw his collection of skulls. That afternoon we visited the Sabah State Mosque and the local market. (Hyatt Regency Hotel)

Day 12: Today we did lots of shopping! Our luxurious hotel was located in the heart of the city. We did lots of exploring and enjoyed a savory, sumptuous dinner, complete with a colorful cultural performance.

Day 13: Kota Kinabalu/Kuala Lumpur. This morning we boarded a flight to Kuala Lumpur, the bustling capital of Malaysia. On an afternoon tour we got acquainted with the city's surprising architectural splendors set amidst lush greenery. Visits to the impressive Jamek Mosque, the National Museum and the King's Palace were on the list. We saw Chinatown and stopped at a local craft market. (Renaissance New World Hotel)

Day 14: Kuala Lumpur is a shopping mecca. It is like one enormous mall full of mazes. You better buy it when you see it because you will never be able to find that particular shop again. We visited the tallest building in the world in Kuala Lumpur. It was taller than the World Trade Center Buildings. You could feel it sway.

Day 15: Kuala Lumpur/USA. Transfer to the airport. Our exciting journey ends today as we arrive in the USA later today.

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