Category Archives: Malaysia

Niah Caves = fail.

Imagine sitting on a 5-hour bus ride to see an attraction, only to find out upon arrival that they’re are closed due to flooding. And has been for a few days. They suggested I “try back in a week or so.”  Ahhh!

My saddest face after learning we burned two days and wouldn’t even get to see Niah. Apparently it had been closed for a few days; there was no notice on their website, no hotline, no notice to the 8 hotels in the nearby town.

The attraction I’m referring to are the Niah Caves, supposedly the most impressive of Malaysia’s natural wonders. We were in Brunei, ultimately headed to Kuching on the northwest region of Borneo, so instead of taking a 45min flight, we took a 5-hour bus ride to Junction, a small town near Niah, and would have another 15 hour bus ride afterward to get to Kuhcing. It’s quite a bit of effort but people told me it’s worth it! We negotiated into our hotel price (that’s right, in Asia hotel prices are often negotiable) a shuttle from Junction to Niah, 45 minutes away. Our “shuttle” turned out to be space in the back of a flatbead truck, as part of the driver’s errands. We checked the Niah website and called ahead to check the hours so we could get there when it opens, but upon arrival they said not only is it closed, but it’s been closed due to flooding for 3 days. Ahhh!  They apologized and said they were thinking of updating their website to tell people. But they didn’t. Thanks Malaysia.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Asia

To celebrate my first Chinese New Year in Asia, I left the jungle and headed to Kota Kinabalu (everyone calls it “KK”), the largest city in Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo. I was really interested to see how people celebrate; apparently not enough to do any homework on what Chinese New Year actually is. Oops!

For those of you that are as ignorant as I was, it’s a family holiday, similar to the way Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. So there were no big parties with the irrational excitement of elaborate countdowns signifying the exact moment of the new year. Instead I found myself in a predominantly conservative Muslim country (read: doesn’t drink) in a city with 11 bars, on a night that’s least likely to have any energy at the bars. Hmm… Still it was a good time.

We ate at the night market with the locals (dinner for them, appetizer for us). Look at all of that goodness!

Afterward we ate our actual dinner along the beautiful waterfront where most of the bars are.

Slideshow: Kota Kinabalu

Click SL for slideshow, FS for full screen.

Kota Kinabalu


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Cam's starting a new trend
Cam's starting a new trend

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These obviously look ridic, but Cameron actually bought them
These obviously look ridic, but Cameron actually bought them

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Hornbills – look at those bills!

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.