Bornean Adventures

I will start this off with a question: what is the proper term for someone or something from Borneo?  During my time in Borneo, I noticed a variety of different spellings – Borneon, Bornean, Borneoan etc.  It seems a simple enough question and yet…

I will attempt to keep this short; nobody needs to hear every last detail! 🙂

Borneo was unlike any where I had ever been before.  (I’ve been to 31 countries so that’s saying a lot!)  I went with a fabulous company called Intrepid (  My tour group was small, our guide fantastic, and my co-travellers amazing.  We had Canadians, Aussies, and Brits in our group; a mix that lead to a lot of linguistic misunderstandings and cultural hilarity.

I flew into Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah (Eastern Borneo).  It is built along the coast of the South China Sea and has a population of just over 400,00.  Everyone I met was friendly and helpful, which was great because I got lost. A lot.

The amazing thing about Kota Kinabalu was that unlike everywhere else I’ve been in SE Asia, nobody tried to sell me anything.  I was able to walk down the street without being offered pirated DVDs, a fake Gucci, or tickets to a ping-pong show.  Fabulous!

The whole city was decorated for Lunar New Year; it was very pretty.

We visited a local market where you could buy everything from a hamster…

…to bedding…

… to ducklings and chicks.

That night we spent at a homestay.  We had to husk our own rice for dinner (I had a whole new appreciation for my rice that night)…

Some of the local teenagers tried to teach us this traditional dance.  Needless to say, we had more fun than talent. 🙂  In return,they wanted us to teach them something traditionally Western.  We tried to teach them the Hokey Pokey.  Although with the Brits being in the majority, we ended up teaching them the Hokey Kokey.  Who knew it had a different name AND different steps in England?

The next morning, we learned how to harvest rubber (similar to but somehow much cooler than maple syrup) …

… and as we learned how to harvest rice, we got our first glimpse of Mt Kinabalu.  I started to get a little worried.  Mt Kinabalu looked a lot bigger than I had imagined it was going to… what on earth had I signed myself up for this time?

Photo: Alex MacKay

I will leave climbing Mt Kinabalu for another post and skip ahead to Poring Hot Springs where we were introduced to some flora and fauna of Borneo.  We saw a Rafflesia, the world’s largest and possibly ugliest flower…

… even baby Rafflesia are ugly!

We also saw a snot tree…

… and met Jackie, a part-time resident of the park.  She had been raised by humans before being partially rehabilitated.  She now divides her time between the jungle and her little house on the grounds of the Hot Springs.

We also met a lot more tiger leeches than perhaps was entirely necessary…

We even tried out the natural hot springs the town was named for….

… the springs felt great AND killed any leeches we’d missed. 😀

Interestingly, the locals used umbrellas when it rained.  I wondered why.  It wasn’t like they could get any wetter.


About Carrie K

Teacher, writer, traveller. Slightly neurotic. Overly talkative. Loving life. You can also follow me on Twitter: kimchigirl72
This entry was posted in Borneo, Malaysia, Travel, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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