Thursday, April 21, 2011

Borneo to be wild!

It may be a small world but it still takes a helluva long time to fly to the other side of it.

Off the coast of Kota Kinabalu
Okay - I am way behind in my blog posts. April - being National Poetry Month - is always busy but this year has been especially cruel. Good in that we have been a whole bunch of cool places and worked with scores of super duper folks - cruel in it has been go go go with little time to sit back and reflect on where and what we've been and doing. So I am going to attempt to catch up in the next couple days.

Sara and I attended the EARCOS conference which was held in Borneo, Malaysia this year in a city called Kota Kinabalu. This was right after our visit to Tasmania. Our midnight flight leaving Australia was delayed by around 3 hours or so because of - get this - the co-pilot having a kidney stone attack.  Fortunately for us Malaysian Air handled the situation grandly - giving us vouchers for food and having people waiting at the gate when we arrived in Borneo to shepherd us directly on to a couple re-booked connecting flight. It was all pretty smooth. It was on these connecting flights that we met a cheery young Australian couple Nick and Fiona who were headed to Kota Kinabalu for a holiday. More about these two later.

We arrived several days before our conference so we had some time to kill. In order to save a bit of money we booked ourselves into a hotel on the outskirts of town which was attached to a rather large mall. Definitely not a usual tourist destination. So we rented ourselves a motor scooter and set out on exploring the island. We drove into the Sunday market which was packed with people selling every googaw under the sun.  You can see the throng of shoppers over there to the right.
So, Sara and I decide to escape the early morning crush of humanity a bit and grab a strong cup of coffee and something to eat. While we are eating our breakfast Sara looks into the crowd and says, "There's Fiona and Nick!" Sure enough there they were and they came by and joined us. Now Kota Kinabalu is not some tiny little town it is a city of almost a million inhabitants so the chance of running into these two was pretty slim. We took this to be an auspicious start of our visit.

Saying goodbye to Fiona and Nick we jumped on our motor bike and headed to the Borneo Zoo where Sara and i both got up close and personal with an eight year old orangutan named Mowgli. During the animal show held in an outdoor pavilion the ringleader of the event asked for a volunteer to interact with the orangutan. One thing Sara and I have learned over the years of our travel is to always volunteer for everything - you never know what will happen and it usually is gong to be memorable so we both raised our hands. The master of ceremonies came up to us and picked Sara - promising me that he had something in store for me later.

Sara's task was to race Mowgli removing a piece of sweet potato from a box with a couple holes on top just big enough to insert a stick so that the piece of tuber could be pushed along the bottom and out a slot on the side. The two tied - Mowgli winning the first round and Sara the second - there was no tie breaker round thus allowing Sara to claim that she was at least equal to a eight year old ape. I didn't fare as well.

Here's some shots of the zoo to round off this post - I'll keep posting one a day 'til I am all caught up with April.

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