At home in the jungle on Borneo

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July 15th 2011
Published: August 14th 2011
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I sure have been busy! The last time I wrote, we were on the Peninsula of Malaysia, but we flew over to the huge island of Borneo and into a town called Kuching. The one thing I was looking forward to more than anything here was going to see some Orangutans. There’s an Orangutan sanctuary outside of Kuching called Seminggoh, where we were headed in hopes that we would get to see some. We took a bus to get there and then hiked on a path for a while until we got to where some of the staff was that works there. Can you believe we were just in time for them to feed the Orangutans? I was so excited I couldn’t stop jumping from Nate’s shoulders to Jessie’s shoulders! I felt like it was the night before Christmas! As soon as the workers brought out the buckets of food and put them on the platforms, we could hear and see the trees moving back and forth in the distance. Before we knew it, there were about 6 orangutans making their way down the trees to get their lunch, including a mom and a baby! He was so cute! One of the workers told us to make sure we didn’t get to close, though. He said that sometimes they actually break some of the branches off and throw them down at people. He also said that you don’t want to stand under them because they might even pee on you! He said, “If an orangutan throws a branch at you, it’s a bad day for you. If it pees on you, then it’s good luck.” We all looked at each other and yelled, “Yuk!” Nate said, “I don’t know about you guys, but if I won’t feel lucky at all if THAT happens!”

It was really amazing to see wild orangutans moving around through the trees and along the ropes they put up for them. I thought I was good climber, but they’re pros! We loved to watch the mom and the baby the most. Every time his mom went down to get food, he would climb all over her until she shared with him. She had to make sure she grabbed as much as she could too, because one of the other adults kept grabbing an entire bunch of bananas and stuffing them into his mouth so he didn’t have to come back down as many times to get more food. His mouth was as full with fruit as a squirrel’s mouth can be with nuts! What a pig! When some of them started to move away, most of the people around left. This meant we got to see the mom and the baby almost all by ourselves! Wait until you see the funny faces he was making at us! What a silly little orangutan. I wonder if I made faces like that when I was a baby, or if I made funny noises at people with my lips. I was laughing at him so hard that I almost fell right off of Jessie’s shoulders! Good thing she caught me! For me, it was worth it going to Kuching just to see that, and Nate and Jessie both agreed. What a great day!

We also spent a night at Bako National Park outside of the city. You have to take a boat after the bus drops you off to get there. If you like hiking, you would LOVE it here. We were climbing up over lots of big rocks and tree roots coming out of the ground, but the best part was the wildlife here. On the first day, we saw wild boars, LOTS of macaques, and a monkey I had never seen before called a probuscus monkey. They’re kind of funny looking. When it was dinner time, they came over to a tree right in front of us and starting eating…dropping nuts and little branches down onto the ground. “I think it’s time to move guys. One of those nuts almost dropped on my little head!” You might think the macaques are always cute, but they’re really naughty here. We saw one run and jump up on a ladies table, grab her sandwich, and run back up the tree before anyone could get him! Naughty monkey!! When it got dark outside, we went on a night walk. This was my favorite part of being in the park. In the first 10 minutes, we got to see a flying lemur making its way up a tree. Then, our guide showed us a bright green pit viper that was hiding under a plant. He said they are really poisonous, so I stayed far away from him. We also got too see some frogs and lizards, lots of HUGE, scary spiders, and plenty of creepy bugs. Those were enough to make Jessie’s skin crawl. I can’t say I blame here. Some of the bugs on Borneo are really, really big…much bigger than in the US.

Our next stop was Mulu National Park. Jessie found us a really good deal on a flight, so this time we got to fly to a park instead. One of the biggest reasons people come here is to see the caves. The first one we saw was called Deer Cave. It’s the largest cave passage in the entire world! Our guide told us that it was home to over 3 million bats. I promise, you can tell. There was a LOT of guano (or bat poop) all over the ground. It honestly looked like mountains of it everywhere, and you sure could smell it! It was really neat to hike through the cave, but I’m not going to miss that smell any time soon. After walking through it, we got to sit outside and watch all 3 million bats leave the cave to go hunting for the night. I’ve never seen so many bats in my life! Wow! We did a night walk here too and saw a whole bunch of monster bugs, lizards, and spiders, including a tarantula! Those guys have some really big fangs! Jessie was scared one of the spiders was going to fall on her head when she walked under some of the leaves after Nate found some big, hairy spiders hiding there. On our last day, we wanted to go see 2 other caves called Cave of the winds and Clearwater. To get there, we had to take a long canoe with a motor so we could get down the river. On our way, we stopped in a little village where the people who used to live in the park are now living. I couldn’t believe how simple they live still. The caves were really neat to see, and I definitely got my exercise for the day. Just ONE of the caves had 200 stairs to climb before you got to the opening. Whew! I was tired after that. In fact, after going to the 2 parks, we were ALL tired. We spent the next couple days resting before heading deep into the jungle…

Now, we were headed to Sabah to a place called Uncle Tan’s, which is a little camp on the Kinabatangan River in the middle of the jungle. You can’t even get there unless you take a boat down the river. It was the most basic place we had stayed yet. Our hut only had 3 walls, a mattress on the floor, and a mosquito net around the bed. Oh yeah, and if you used the bathroom, you had to fill up your own pale of water to flush the toilet with! We even had to shower with water right from the river! It didn’t really matter though, because we saw some really neat things. We got to take boat rides up and down the river to go looking for wildlife. On the very first night, we got to see a reticulated python hiding in the grass. He was at least 5 feet long! Our guide, Remy, told us that they actually eat monkeys! I looked at him and took 5 big steps back. “Oh no, not THIS monkey!” I yelled. There was still one other thing that would eat monkeys if it could get them, and that was a crocodile! At night, you could see red eyes on the river from the crocodiles that were ready to grab a meal. As you can imagine, nobody is allowed to swim in the river. Hmm, I wonder why! We saw all KINDS of cool animals; wild orangutans and probuscus monkeys, owls and hornbill birds, lizards and geckos, and even a wild cat! One of my favorite things we got to see was a gibbon monkey. I just love the way they can swing from tree to tree so easily, and they have the coolest looking faces!

You could definitely say we saw a LOT of different animals. That was the whole reason we went to Borneo, and we sure weren’t disappointed! I’m a little sad to be leaving to tell you the truth, but there’s always something new and exciting to see in other countries. Stay tuned for more adventures!

Your best monkey pal,


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