Before we started this trip, people asked where we wanted to go, Rick always mentioned one island: Borneo. We visited once in 2013 and fell in love. So after island hopping in Indonesia, Borneo was to be our grand finale in Asia. It turned out that it was surprisingly difficult to get there from Papua (considering that Indonesia has the largest section of the Borneo island). But it was well worth the effort.
We devoted one entire week to Danum valley, an absolutely fantastic low-land primary forest region. Even after visiting so many different rainforests in various parts of the world, we both believe that Danum is still the best. It is simply beautiful. I love the animals, big (elephants) and small (beetles).
The slow-flowing river created a dense wall of fog in the morning and by lunch time, the sun and humidity left every inch of your skin drenched in sweat. The birds were colorful and plentiful, Rick got some of his “lifers”. A Pitta a day keeps the sorrows away! I on the other hand fell in love with the Borneon gibbon, an almost-ape with the most fascinating calls and incredibly long arms. He looks like a mini-human dressed in pajamas running along the branches!
Our week in Danum was by far our most remote week in all of the trip. Or at least I felt that way without internet or cell phone coverage for 7 full days (I hereby admit to being an internet junkie). Time was devoted to walking, exploring, bird watching and reading. A nice aspect were other guests who were just as nature-crazy as we were. One evening, five of us walked on a small trail with our flashlights looking for little critters in the dark. And yes, we found a sleeping Hooded Pitta which was really sweet.
After Danum Valley, we spent the remaining days in Sepilok. This location nearby the Rainforest Discovery Center was also known to us already. Every day we set out to walk on the canopy walks and regular trails in a never-ending search of tropical birds. I have become reasonably good at calling birds (with a recording of their song), which allowed Rick to take some great close-ups of exhilarating birds species, including the Black-and-Yellow Broadbill, Scarlet-Rumped Trogon and Rufous-Collared Kingfisher.
Borneo marked the end of our Asian adventure. Admittedly, we left some things on the table. Myanmar or China would have been fantastic destinations to visit. But there simply wasn’t time for everything. We’ll have to come back… hopefully soon.