(Day 420 on the road)
How ironic: On one of my last blog entries I wrote how much I enjoy my absolute freedom on this trip, and how I disliked planning and committing myself. And now I have just booked nine flights over the course of the next two month (total cost: 163 EUR, or 18 EUR per flight), essentially forcing me to plan around these fixed dates. But there seemed really no viable alternative: For one, Borneo is huge and large parts are either inaccessible or prohibitively expensive to get to if you are not flying. And second, getting to where we want to go after Borneo (Philippines and Taiwan) is virtually impossible via ferries.
So Karen and I decided on a few flights inside Borneo to get to some of the more remote jungle corners and national parks (on small air planes like a 20 seater Twin Otter or a Fokker 50). Further, we have also booked the flights to go to Taiwan (via the Philippines) and two internal flights in the Philippines. I am especially excited about Taiwan as a) I have heard good things about the country, b) very few backpackers go there so it should not
be overrun, and c) Taiwan is the only country in the whole region that I have not travelled to.
So the rough plan for the next few months looks as follows: June: Borneo. July: Palawan in the Philippines and Taiwan. August: Rest of Philippines, then back down to Indonesia whilst Karen goes to India for five weeks. September: Meet Karen again in Indonesia (near Bali somewhere), then head east across Indonesia and into Eats Timor. Hm, sounds pretty committed, very different to how I have been travelling for the last year. Let's see how that will all work out.
Besides booking flights, I have also been busy exploring some grand caves in the Niah Caves National Park. As the name suggests, the main attraction here are the enormous caves, the biggest one being the Great Cave, which boasts a main hall that is 75 metres high in parts. We spend a day just scrambling around in the dark corners with our torches, observing some strange wildlife including a flying lizard a very tame butterfly that just landed on Karen's lap and starting eating our apple. We got a few really good close-up shots of it, mostly though on
Karen's camera (which is much better for macro-shots than my small camera). The cave is also one of the main centres in Asia where the expensive bird's nests are collected, which are then sold (mainly to China), where they fetch some ridiculous prices.
After two days in the National Park we went onwards to the city of Miri some 100km away to the east, reaching there by hitchhiking all the way. That saved us quite a bit of money as the National Park is a little out of the way and the only way to reach there from the main road (where there are long-distance buses) is by rather expensive taxi. It always amazes me just how friendly the Malaysian people are. I am no a big expert on the matter of hitchhiking, but I guess Malaysia must be one of the best countries in the world to hitch a ride. I have used that method of transport for quite a few trips over the course of over three months in Malaysia in total, and have never waited more than a few minutes for a car. Plus, the drivers very often go out of their way to get you where you wanted - I have been in a few cars where the driver took me exactly where I wanted even when he or she was going somewhere totally different. How nice - I love Malaysia!
Next stop: Bario (Kelabit Highlands, Borneo, Malaysia).
To view my photos, have a look at pictures.beiske.com
. And to read the full account of my journey, have a look at the complete book about my trip at Amazon
(and most other online book shops).
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