Borneo is a big island in the south China sea that has been split diagonally and allocated to the countries of Malaysia (1/3), Indonesia (most of the rest) with a tiny notch cutout for the country of Brunei.  It’s a little confusing to tell folks at home we went to Borneo, as most post-WWII people, including myself before moving here, can’t imagine where to look for it on a map.  Hint: West of peninsular Malaysia.

I had heard it was different over there, but was not sure what to expect.  Afterall, Kuching, the capital of Sarawak (the more southern of the 2 Malaysian states, the other being Sabah) sounded similar to Penang, with strong influence by the straits Chinese.  I was surprised to find when we arrived that Sabah and Sarawak have independent immigration, so we had to get stamped at each new airport.  I’m also not sure if it was just a fluke, but the weather was also extremely different.  Cooler, less humid, clouds and rain.  Ahhhh….

Our first stop was the remote beach residence of Tempurung Seaside Lodge, a 2 hour drive south of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.  Located on a steep cliff right on the sea, the residence-turned-hotel was built in a long house style with a big common living room and a separate dining area where we took all our included meals.  The stairs made for a bit of a physical challenge getting Miles (and me, and Tim’s parents) up and down each time we wanted to go to the beach, but the serenity was worth it.  The sea was swirling and angry as there were massive wind and rain storms each night.  This made for some interrupted sleeps (Miles’ emerging 7th tooth didn’t help) as we went to bed with the windows open, only to wake up to howling winds whipping through our room!  Tim, Mariel and Linda went on a wildlife watching boat cruise, while Miles, Wally and I spent some more time at the beach, collecting sand.

Next up we split into two teams: team 5-star Shangri-La and team Mount Kinabalu.  I stuck with the mothers and children (guess where we went?) while the dads and Mariel went off to summit SE Asia.  Unfortunately for them, the weather patterns continued, and horrible storms kept them from the actual summit.  The resort, however, was fabulous.  Totally set up for kids, it was a great place to bring Miles and a wonderful relaxation spot for us.  I spent lots of time sleeping, reading and relaxing and Grandma Linda got to play with Miles in the pool on the up-down (slide).  He had a blast!  We loved our ground floor room with its tiny patio and garden that looked over the ocean.  The food was amazing (I ate! And ate, and ate…).  Right before we left we even got to see up close and personal a baby orang utan from the on-site nature preserve.

Lastly, we left Sabah and headed to Kuching.  Again, great, cool weather!  I was feeling so much better at this point, and I think it was due in part to the lower humidity and cool temps.  We were all charmed by Kuching with its riverwalk and temples.  It seemed quaint, and just walking around the city was fun enough.

We did make a few outings, though.  One to a nearby orang utan preserve with “semi-wild” animals.  Here we saw about 5 adults and one baby swinging around, peeling bananas in one fell swoop and cracking coconuts.  Miles tried his hardest to scare them off  by screaming and crying, but luckily they stuck around.  We also visited a cultural village, an extremely well set-up if a bit contrived collection of seven typical tribal dwellings, people and customs.  Miles went crazy for the dance performance at the end, watching the performers with rapt attention and fussing and signing “more” in between songs.  That night, Mariel and I got to have sister night of shopping, massage and Italian dinner while Tim, his parents and Miles headed across the river to the Malay side (Kuching seems VERY segregated).  The next day was our last, and we visited the weekend market, blocks and blocks of veg, fruit, fish, crackers, cakes, meat, etc, etc.  We finished off with an early Fathers’ Day dinner out in Kuching.

All in all, a great trip, and somewhere we wouldn’t mind going back and doing more exploring.  We missed out on the National Parks in Sarawak and all the diving spots in Sabah.  My guess is there may be a Borneo, part II, sometime in the future!

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