I took a flight from Singapore to the island of Borneo, which is part Malaysian, part Indonesian and where the country of Brunei is. I arrived the Friday night to Kota Kinabaru, from there, I went to Sandakan Saturday morning.
Sandakan is the second largest city in Borneo with around 400,000 people. The first thing I did was going to Gomanton Caves, I think that's the scariest place I've been, I really liked it but it's definitely kind of creepy; we only went to one of the biggest caves, and inside of it, there were countless swiftlet's nests, bats and cockroaches... Yes, cockroaches everywhere, of all kinds, colors and flavors. The floor and the handrails were covered by guano and every couple of minutes, I could feel the birds' and bats' poop on falling on me.
"This edible bird nest, crafted by the birds from their saliva, are the most expensive animal products consumed by humans. It has been used in Chinese cooking for centuries, most commonly as Bird’s Nest Soup." www.divedownbelow.com
In the afternoon, I went to Kinabatangan River, second largest river in Malaysia with a length 560 Km. I got into a small boat with other tourists, a captain and a guide, for the first 40 minutes going down the river, we only saw a crocodile, not very impressive for me. It was rainy, I had my raincoat on and my camera's backpack too (although it didn't work and I ended up with a my passport wet). We were still going down the river when suddenly we saw a bunch of different animals; starting with a snake, eagles and horn peak birds (quite strange for me, I had never seen a bird like that, they look like Costa Rican tucans in a way), then we saw some Macaques Monkeys, dangerously near the water, looking for some food but knowing that they could become some crocodile's dinner. And then, it happened, some leaves were moving in one side of the river... We got closer and there it was, a Borneo Pygmy Elephant, one of the few that are still alive. They are supposed to be smaller than the usual Asian Elephant but this one must have been a healthy male because it was huge! I didn't have a clear shoot to take a good picture, he was round 15m away but the dense tropical jungle blocked my camera. It felt amazing, this is the first time I see an actual WILD elephant.
On our way back we saw a group of Proboscis Monkeys (long nosed monkeys) up in the canopy and also, we saw an orangutan wondering around by itself. We were very lucky to see all these wild animals in the river, it is not usual to see so many things in only one trip.
Sunday (today). I visited Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, this time I was able to see several Orangutans for a long time. By the way, Orang means people, and Utan means jungle; so, Orangutan is a composed word in Malay that means people from the jungle. They are beautiful animals, 98% of their DNA is the same as humans, they are the biggest primate outside of Africa, their offspring takes around 8 years to become independent but it stays with its mother till they are 16 years old, making then the most parent dependent animal in the world. Amazing experience, the only downside was that I was having troubles with my camera, the condensation generated by the change in temperatures form my backpack to the outside environment fogged up my pictures, there was a point in which I wasn't even able to focus, I couldn't do much because it was raining and even though I tried to clean the lens it just kept fogging up. I'm actually gonna talk about that in a tutorial (whenever I have the time to release them on my website).
Then, I went to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, funny looking creatures, the long nosed monkeys seen very territorial and with a well defined social structure where the alpha male was controlling the situation at all time. I that same place I had the chance to enjoy the company of the very friendly Silver Leaf Monkeys to which I took lots of pictures, they were good models, the different color babies were very curious and cute.