From Bhutan to Borneo
We were warned that the Paro airport in Bhutan is visual only, and the least level of incremental weather shuts it down. Which seems only right because it is surrounded by mountains. They tell you to make any connecting flights with a day lapse in case you cannot get out of Paro. Well, we arrived at the airport on a cloudy morning with drizzling rain. Nothing that would stop an Airbus 320 anywhere else.
However our flight was delayed hours, waiting for perfect weather. Druk air served us lunch and tea in the lobby so that people would not be absent if the clouds lifted.
Our flight was back to Kathmandu. We were not on an 320, but a small prop plane. That meant we should have gotten a great view of Everest.
We got back to Kathmandu on a nice afternoon. We went back to the KGH. We just relaxed for the next day. We spoke with people who had tried to get into Tibet. They actually had their permits and/or visas. But when they got to the border, the Chicoms turned them around, with little or no reason given. We spoke with our travel agent about a visit to Tibet someday, but he was as perplexed by the Chinese constantly changing the rules as we were. Maybe someday we will be able to go, and maybe someday pigs will fly.
We left Kathmandu for Bangkok. We had both been there a few times before, so we looked for something different to do. We signed up for an Intrepid Travel Tuk Tuk tour. It was fun. We saw some interesting and different stuff.
We left BKK for KL. That is Kuala Lumpur. We flew Air Asia, which is an excellent low cost airline that covers that part of the coconut. I hear that the main terminal in KL is beautiful, new and efficient. The low cost terminal is, well, tired.
The KL airport is 1 ½ hours away from KL. We were only going to stay in KL overnight, and leave the next morning so we stayed at a hotel only a ½ hour away, which obviously exists to serve people in transit.
We flew Air Malaysia to a city called Sandakam in the state of Sabah. We were still in the same country, but it was a 2 ½ hour flight, definitely the longest domestic flight I had ever taken in Asia. It was like flying from NY to Chicago. Amazingly, when we got to Sandakam, we had to go through immigration! Oh well, at this point another stamp in my passport is just another stamp.
We were now officially in Borneo. I am not sure just what I expected. Headhunters?
Our tour was arranged through AMAZING BORNEO TOURS. They picked us up at the airport. Our lodge was n the Kinabatangan river, about two hours away. For the next two hours we drove through nothing but palm oil plantations. Miles and miles, thousands and thousands of hectares of land that used to be jungle, is now producing palm oil. It is definitely the cash crop of Sabah. Why all this palm oil? Is this a good or bad thing? Go here to find out.
We got to the lodge after a the long drive. The lodge was OK, nothing to write a blog post about. Our adventure in “wild” Borneo was to start the next day.
The first thing on the agenda was Orangutans. I was thinking that this was the third endangered species I had seen this year, kinda cool. We went to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. This one of those places that somehow get orphaned or injured critters and raise them until they are prepared to go back into the wild. They showed us an interesting video of their work. I noticed a glaring error and afterward tried to bring it to the attention of the docent. No big deal, but they ought to get their facts straight. I’m no biologist, but I know the film was flawed. This place was billed as a chance to see orangutans play together. After a 45 minute wait at a staged area, in the Borneo heat, we saw ONE. He was led to the feeding area by a refuge worker, and did not look all that enthused about being on display.
we transferred to another lodge where we took trips on the river. On one trip we actually saw Orangutans in the wild, and my favorite, the Jimmy Durante of primates, the Proboscis monkey, on another.
In case I have at all led you to believe we were “explorers” in wild Borneo, this next photo should cancel that idea.
We were treated to a great sunset.
The next day we left the lodge and the river. We drove through palm oil plantations for another hour to see the second cash crop of Sabah, birds nests. Yup, this is the primary source of birds nests for birds nest soup, of which the Chinese are apparently quite fond. They pay a LOT of money for these nests, harvested from a cave.
Well folks, that was it for Borneo. Is it worth your time and treasure to go? Only if you want to say you have been there!
Thanks for reading, share with a friend, make a comment, or go order a bowl of birds nest soup cooked with palm oil.
Posted on August 12, 2012, in Asian Summer and tagged AirAsia, Asia, Bangkok, Bhutan, birds nest soup, Borneo, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Orangutans, Palm oil, Proboscis monkeys, Sabah. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.