Rainforests of Northern Borneo

A wonderful visit with the Bombay Natural History Society to Northern Borneo to experience the oldest rain forests and see some of the endemic flora and fauna of this island. Borneo is third largest island in the world (after Greenland & New Guinea) and is divided in 3 parts - Sultanate of Brunei; Kalimantan which is part of Indonesia and the states of Sarawak and Sabah which form part of Malysia. We visited the states of Sarawak and Sabah which comprise the Northern part of Borneo.
To see the map of Sarawak, click on this link :http://www.e-borneo.com/travel/sar-map.html
to see the map of Sabah, click on this click: http://www.e-borneo.com/travel/sab-map.html

As we were the first nature lovers group from India, our arrival was greeted with considerable hype and we received media coverage at Kuching International Airport. Kuching is the capital of the state of Sarawak. Would certainly recommend nature lovers to visit this wonderful land to learn about its flora and fauna as well as the culture of its people. Our guide in Sarawak was Dion who belonged to the Iban tribe that were traditional head hunters who lived in community long-houses. Retaining part of his culture he sported a pony tail and tattoos which had some some significance. Mercifully for us, his generation had long given up head hunting and taken to other professions! But we got some useful insight into the culture of his tribe. The gentle Dion regaled us with stories and practices of the Iban and we got a feel of their lifestyle at the Sarawak museum - longhouses, some gory remains of hunted heads and all!

Gunnung Gading National Park

Sudhir Agashe, Roshan Panthakee & Sumitra Sreenivasan pose near the Park office

the famed pitcher plant & some orchids (below) on our way to the park

"Gunnung" is Malaysian for Mount i.e. Mount Gadding. This National Park is a two hour drive from Kuching. It lies in the district of Lundu which is home to the Iban kwak tribe of Borneo. They are headhunters who end every sentence with the word "Kwak" which means "you"

This is home to the Rafflesia flower the largest flower having a width of one meter.
Unfortunately during our visit, there were none in bloom so we had to satisfy our selves with the buds which would take about 9 months to bloom and some blackened remains of an old bloom.

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More of Gunnung Gading National park

The flower of Ginger plant

a beautiful caterpillar

Sonia, Sumitra & self chilling out
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Entrance to the Semmengok Orang Utang Feeding Centre

This is a rehabilitation centre for preparing Orang Utangs who are orphaned or freed from capitivity to live in the wild. they are fed twice a day and visitors can watch them while they feast upon a variety of fruits.
This clourful feline above merged with the surrounding - greeted us at the entrance.

a beautiful orchid at the entrance

Nest of the Orang Utang

entrance to the feeding area where we got our briefing

entrance to the feeding area
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Orang utangs @ Semmengoh rehabilitation Centre

the park ranger gives us the dos and donts of how to behave with Orang Utangs - keep safe distance; no loud talk and do not give any food from your side!

A whole bunch of Bananas is what he needs

Eating time is sharing time!
Unfortunately the real good poses came after some time with heavy rain. Had to pack up the cameras and instead enjoyed the show free hand!
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Natural History Museum, Kuching

Model of the Raja Brooke Butterfly on the Museum
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More of Kuching

The town Hall

Kuching means cat - what better way to describe the city than with this imposing statue

the Buddhist temple - Hong Sang Si has a real Chinese ambience to it

Turtles inside the Hong sang SiPosted by Picasa

Kuching & the Sarawak river

This is another interesting structure of Kuching taken from my hotel room on the 10th floor

More pictures of the cruise we had on the evening of the first day first day, when we set out in search of Esturine crocodiles and fireflies. While
fireflies were easy to spot, the crocs posed a challenge for the boatmen. Just when we gave up, our boat was able to spot a baby who quickly jumped ito the water, a sub-adult and an adult - all in darkness. They fled before I had time to focus my camera on them.

After the cruise we ended the day with dinner with a local family. their house was typical of a modest Malaysian joint family- built of wood and on stilts. Lifestlye very informal and cosy and similiar to our own Indian rural way of living. As we were leaving, the youngsters of the village came out to see & greet the Homosapiens from India. Reminds one of the kind of warm curiosity we face back home!

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More of Kuching

An interesting structure in Kuching

entrance to the Jetty that takes us to Bako National Park

A cruise on the Sarawak river
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Boat ride to Bako National Park

On the way to Bako National Park

Scenes of the Mangroves around the Jetty at the National Park during high tide
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Park Headquarters at Bako

We stayed overnight at this paradise learning about the flora and fauna. this section shows pix of the layout of place where camped. In front of the campsite lay the beach and the South China Sea while you can see the dense Dipterocarp forest at the back

The registration counter of the park.

Our group relaxing & waiting or allotment of accomodation

The wooden Chalet with 2 rooms where 4 of us stayed. Compared to our Crowne Plaza of Kuching, this was very simple accomodation, but given the chance to stay right within the rain forest- literally in the lap of nature, this was a real thriller!

Most construction on the island of Borneo is on stilts as there are chances of flooding. One can expect thunderstorms and heavy rainfall in the afternoon & evening. Luckily we were spared for most of our days in Borneo
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Bako- the beach

The Cobra rock rises from the South China Sea. Pic taken from the boat

The pristine beach was ours to enjoy

A lonely whimbrel gave us a good pose

wild mushrooms along the trail
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