Check out those bills! These are Hornbills, and they were easy to find from their noisy distinctive sounds in the thick forests of Sungai Kinabatgangan River on our little safari in Malaysian Borneo.
Unique Breeding Strategy: During mating periods, females are incarcerated in a tree cavity and fed by the male for the duration of incubation until the young are ready to leave on their own. Thus they need fairly large tree cavities, so they rely on large trees in old growth forests. Thus the presence of hornbills is actually a sign of the forest’s health.
There’s 54 species of these large birds, 8 of which are in Borneo.
Underwater photos from my SCUBA diving experience in amazing Sipadan, within the Semporna Archipelago (in Borneo / Malaysia), the best diving I’ve ever done. I’ve posted assorted images from my first time using the underwater camera when diving. Photos from my Borneo diving adventure in the Semporna Archipelago are below (Press SL for Slideshow, FS for Full Screen):
Whitetip Reef Shark
1st underwater photo of me SCUBA diving
school of Jackfish
shark! Whitetip Reef Shark
Asia’s only great ape, the orang-utan or ‘man of the forest‘ is found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, so I was excited to see them while in Malaysian Borneo.
After hearing about lots of crammed zoos (I’m talking to you Beijing), it was great to be introduced to the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre. They take in orphaned and confiscated orang utans as well as Sun Bears, Gibbons, and the occasional injured Elephant. They provide basic medical care, and then train them with basic skills to survive again in the wild (that the mother would normally teach) with the goal of successful reintroduction into the wild as soon as they’re ready.
Recently rehabilitated individuals have their diet supplemented by daily feedings of milk and bananas, which makes it a nice tourist attraction, since the feedings provide an excellent chance to see orang-utans. In this respect the part we can see looks just like a zoo, but a little more research reveals them to be one of the world’s leading wildlife rehab centers due their track record of successfully reintroducing orangutans into the wild. They say the additional food supplied is purposefully designed to be monotonous and boring so as to encourage the apes to start to search for food for themselves. Read more... (436 words, 2 images, estimated 1:45 mins reading time)
My base for diving in the Semporna Archipelago was Mabul Island, a tiny little island. I really loved my time there. Like any island in a beautiful region they have pricey luxury resorts, but they also had SCUBA diving backpacker hostels and bungalows with a great community, and the rest is the local village that’s built on stilts.
You could spend $300 USD per night at the luxury resort and get a beautiful place with privacy, or you can spend $30 with meals included in a great community. I chose the latter. I stayed with “SCUBA-Junkie” and really loved the community of divers. Pictured below are some of my friends from Denmark, Sweden, and Canada. I kept meeting such great people.
I also spent a night in the village amongst the local community in a “longhouse” hostel – a basic room on stilts for 45 ringgit (~$15) per night.
The diving was impressive and certainly the best I’ve done, but even besides that, the people are what made it a highlight of my trip, and some of my favorite days so far. Read more... (185 words, 4 images, estimated 44 secs reading time)
Sipadan in the Semporna Archipelago was the best SCUBA diving I’ve ever done; it’s often rated by many as one of the top dive destinations in the world. The whole Semporna Archipelago was amazing!
Jacques Cousteau referred to Sipadan in the Semporna Archipelago as ‘an untouched piece of art’ – the crown jewel of the diving is Sipadan. Lucky for you, I rented an underwater camera to capture some of the experience, including lots of sharks! Here’s some of my underwater photos from Sipadan.
I was still learning how to dive (buoyancy, breathing, equalizing, etc) when I added underwater photography to the mix, so there’s much improvement to be made in future dives, but this should give you a feel for the experience.
To get there from KL I flew to Tawau, on Malaysian Borneo. Then I took a road trip to a sleepy fishing town called Semporna, and the next morning I took a boat out to Mabul, my home base foor SCUBA diving on the Semporna Archipelago. Some areas in Borneo take quite a bit of time effort to get to, but this was worth it. Read more... (354 words, 3 images, estimated 1:25 mins reading time)
My next destination after KL was Borneo, an amazing playground with wildlife, natural wonders, and adventure.
Trivia: Borneo’s the third largest island in the world. Can you name the 1st two?
Borneo actually includes three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. The vast majority of Borneo (73%) is Indonesian territory (Kalimantan). The area that interested me most is Malaysian Borneo – the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah. Also, the sovereign state of Brunei, located on the north coast, comprises about 1% of Borneo’s land area. [Wikipedia]