I was about 12 years old when I put ‘spend a day at an Orang-utan rehabilitation center in Borneo’ on my bucket list. I remember vaguely reading about it in National Geographic and thinking, this is the biggest and farthest dream for myself that could ever be. Frankly, I never even fathomed it would or could come true. Well here I am – mind blown and crossing off one of my oldest goals on my life’s to-do list.
I had a few expectations for my spontaneous trip to the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo. I knew pretty much the same as any fellow traveler or even any average citizen of the Western world. I primarily imagined thick, lush jungles teeming with hundreds of species of unearthly bugs and plants that would burrow under your skin and kill you in 10 minutes while you’re on your way to a makeshift shack for breakfast. Well there are some alien-esque flora and fauna, you just have to jump through some hoops to find them.
I consider myself extremely lucky that I met some friendly travelers in my hostel in the capital, Kota Kinabalu. Having done minimal research before arriving, I had no plans but plenty of time. A couple hours after chatting with Sander and Cookie, 2 guys from the Netherlands, and Maë, on a 2 week holiday from her studies in Australia, we were set to leave the next day on an adventure.
Trekking Mt. Kinabalu
Diving in the Eastern Islands
It pains me to admit that my GoPro decided to take a hiatus during the whole part of the best diving in the world… Long story short, it’s not a good feeling trying to catch a rare Manta gliding past and realizing your camera refuses to turn on. Since then, I’ve let go of my grudge with technology and fully appreciate seeing cuttlefish, ghost pipefish, a twin spot Lionfish, and a wall of Snappers on my amazing 6 dives on Sibuan and Mabul islands with Scuba Junkie.