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Saturday, 01 September 2007

The Wild Island of Borneo - Page 3

Written by Sherry Ott
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Borneo…maybe you’ve heard of it - but do you even know where it is? I’m sure that if I gave you a globe you’d all have trouble putting your finger on it. What if I told you that it is the world’s third largest island…and it contains three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. At one time it was a wild place inhabited by headhunters, but it’s now a lush island in the Pacific near New Guinea and the Philippines. My curiosity with Borneo started about seven years ago when I was living in San Francisco. I was up late one night watching television. I came across the show “Eco-Challenge.” It was an adventure race that was shown on cable (before the craze of reality TV).


We were paired together with the only other Caucasians in the big group as well as an older Chinese couple. Gina (of the Chinese couple) immediately asked everyone if they had done this before. She was clearly worried that this was going to be dangerous and her husband was making her go.


life vestsWe all piled onto our raft after a small bit of instruction and Russ and I ended up in front…we were ready for a ride! We went over a very small rapid when we heard a shrieking noise from behind. At that moment, Gina announces to the raft, “I’m a screamer.” Poor Russ would need earplugs the rest of the trip.


There were a few good swimming holes along the way. Everyone would jump in and float down the river, cooling off before the next rapids. At one of these swimming holes, we picked up a hitchhiker, a middle age Indian man that seemed to have floated away from his boat and was precariously moving towards the rapids. We pulled him in and gave him a seat in the front between Russ and me. Upon approaching a rapid, our guide would always give us the run down of what to expect and the percentage likelihood that we would capsize. He would give us 2 options…a route that we would have a 50 percent chance of capsizing, and a safer route and then he’d survey the raft on which we would prefer. All of a sudden, Gina yells - “let’s go for capsizing!” This coming, from the woman who was scared to death every time the boat rocks!


As we took off through the rapids, the Indian hitchhiker sat up on the front of the raft hanging his feet over the front and hanging on to the rope like he was riding a bull. He started to hoot and holler like a cowboy in his Indian accent, “Yeeeeehaaawwww”! He was bounced around so much that his pants were falling off - he had some serious plumber crack. I was laughing so hard I could barely paddle. He later told us he had grown up on a cow farm. We made it through most of the rapids in tact - only losing Russ once… Between Gina and the Indian Cowboy it was a blast. We had the oldest (age), whitest boat, but we definitely had the most fun.


I finally got some much needed lunch once we got off the raft and then we started the long commute back to Kota Kinnabalu. It was a short rafting time - but it was packed full of laughs.

river The next night we went on a river safari - once again a 2 hour bus ride out of Kinabalu. We went to go to go see the Proboscis monkeys, which are only found in Borneo. They are these funny looking monkeys that are large, and have a distinctive large nose and big pot belly. They look so ugly that they are cute.


Ever since I had a monkey in Bali jump on me and take my earring, I’ve been trying to stay away from them; however, tonight I was in search of them. We took off under the cover of ominous skies and went in search of the big noses. I was hoping that they would be easy to spot and I had my telephoto lens poised to get a great close up - however my hopes of a great tight shot of their funny faces was dashed when I realized that even my telephoto lens couldn’t get close enough. We did see plenty of the monkeys - however they were high up in the trees and rather shy. Maybe I should have tried to lure them out with a shiny earring.


(Page 3 of 8)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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