Saturday, May 27, 2017

Canuck Walkabout: The One Where Emily and Doug Go to Borneo

What images does the name “Borneo” conjure up for you? Maybe jungles, wild animals, and head hunters?

Its an exotic sort of name, somewhere Indiana Jones might head down a river on a raft looking for some long-lost gemstone.

Or maybe it sounds like some made up place from a TV show – didn’t Chandler go there in an episode of Friends? Oh right, that was Yemen.

Maybe its because Borneo is just so far away from Canada that neither of us really knew much about it.

Sure, we knew there’s exotic jungle and wildlife there, but that’s about it.

But we knew virtually nothing about the people, culture, food, money, etc. Doug isn’t even sure he knew what country it belongs to.

After all, its not on the Risk board, so is it even a real place?

So let’s go through a few quick basics to get us all oriented.

Borneo is the third largest island in the world, after Greenland and New Guinea (Apparently Emily is the only person who doesn;t understand why Australia doesn’t count as an island?).

Borneo is shared between Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia.

There are two Malaysian states on the island, called Sarawak and Sabah.

Sarawak was originally an independant state goverened by “The White Rajah”.

It’s a fascinating and unique history, definitely worth the read on Wikipedia.

In 1963, Sarawak and Sabah joined together with other states from the Malay peninsula to form the country of Malaysia.

Shortly thereafter, Malaysia applied to become the 51st US state, only to be rejected after a last minute veto from Rhode Island.

In a fit of rage and jealously, Malaysia decided to copy the US flag, but replace the 50 stars with a crescent moon.

Ok that last bit was just a little test to see if anyone was still reading or if you all gave up during the boring history lesson and skipped down to the pictures.

Still with us? Now on to the good stuff.

Seriously though, take a look at the Malaysian flag. It bears a striking resemblance to the familiar stars and stripes.

We flew from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s modern capital city, to Kuching in western Sarawak.

Our time in Malaysia was running short, leaving only 8 days to explore in and around Kuching.

Its not enough to explore all of Sarawak and Sabah, but it seemed plenty of time for Kuching and western Sarawak.

Like most places we go, we didn’t do a huge amount of research before coming.

Its been our experience that we can find interesting things to do, see, and experience no matter where we end up.

We typically check only the basics like the cost of food and accommodation to make sure we can afford to live there for a short while on our restricted budget.

In this case, we also had to check flights, given that there is no possibility of ferry service from mainland Malaysia, as air flights are so cheap.