Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Friday, June 24 2011

Don't forget me...

We spent the day exploring Hong Kong, a city I gave high reviews to on a few travel sites. It is clean, modern, vibrant and interesting. 

I will post a "reflection of Borneo" in a few days with all my favorite pictures, but until then,

selamat tinggal (Malay for "good bye")
Thank You for joining me!


The streets of Kowloon Hong Kong

Swimming facilities at Kowloon Park

The nature center in Kowloon Park.

The view across the bay. The boat in the foreground is called a "junk", it is a traditional Chinese sailing vessel. They have been around since 200 B.C.!

"Two International". One of the buildings of Hong Kong's International Finance Centre

First time on a "double-decker bus". The city is filled with double-decker buses shuttling residents to and fro!

Victoria Peak is a tall peak overlooking Hong Kong, in the old Colonial days only the richest people could afford to visit the peak to escape the heat and humidity. Today you can drive to the top and overlook the city from this viewing platform.

Bruce Lee and I meet again at the top of Victoria Peak...

The Kowloon Night Market: everything you never wanted but couldn't live without, at incredibly cheap Chinese prices!!!

The following day I had several flights to finally make it home (22 hours in the air): Hong Kong > Tokyo > Seattle> Denver > Billings

...And even though I was traveling for more than 24 hours I arrived in Billings only a few hours after I left Hong Kong.  Due to time changes and the International Date Line, I left Hong Kong at 8am and arrived in Billings at 5pm on the same day!!!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thursday, June 23; 2011

At this point I turned in my journal to our fearless leaders so I anything I write from this point on is "post-script" information...

We arose extra early, well before dawn, to take the boats back to the jetty, an hour ride away. Then we boarded a bus to travel back to Sandakan where most of us were to board planes and start our long journey home.

My travels the rest of this day:
Sandakan, Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Hong Kong:

An Oriental Darter (Snakebird) soaks up the suns rays in the early morning.

A large male Proboscis Monkey sits quietly overlooking his troupe.

Long Tailed Macaque

Crocodiles rule the waters of the Kinabatangan.  They are responsible for several deaths each year.

Sandakan, Malaysia airport

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia airport (one of the fanciest I have ever seen!)

The weary travelers: left to right: Keith, Lauren, Don, Craig
Simulated rainforest and waterfall inside the Kuala Lumpur airport.

Back in Hong Kong!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 8:05 am

The skies of Borneo gave us one last show the night before departure. Lightning, rain, and unparalleled beauty!

The Last Full Day in Borneo…
The last full day always brings up mixed emotions: sadness that my journey is coming to an end; that we will part as a group and most of us will never see each other again; that I am leaving Borneo; that this may be my last opportunity to experience an adventure with Earth Expeditions.  Likewise, it brings emotions of excitement and happiness when I think of getting back to Christi, Rigley, Rock and Danger.  It is important that I remind myself how much I thought of them during times of frustration. As I write this I can see Danger’s face, grinning one floppy ear to the next, nose all wrinkled up as he greets me with a big smile every day, rain or shine, bad day or good day, crabby or happy. I appreciate the life lesson he teaches me: love unconditionally.
I’ve got of presentations today. My Inquiry group is presenting our data on vertebrate biodiversity along the Kinabatangan River and I will be presenting my paper (get ready for this outlandish title) “Examining the Ecological Role of Primates: Understanding the relationship between Primates and their natural environment in Borneo and the argument for sustaining ecological relationships as a conservation tool” (I have been reading so many journal articles lately with monstrous titles, I figured my paper should reflect that as well, why not!) along with the rest of my Discussion group.  It is a good think the ceiling fans are turned up high, because it is going to be a lot of sitting around for the next few hours…

NOTE: Journal “take 2” has been found!!! This is the journal that contained the first 7 days or so of my trip. When we reached Danau Girang Field Center, I realized it was gone when my side pocket was open. I figured it must have fallen out somewhere along the way. Jose P. called back to Sukau and they were able to find it in a vehicle at the village. Ahbam is going to deliver it to the Jetty on the day we depart from DGFC. I AM ELATED!

Our fearless instructors: Jill and Jose

Journal #2 has been recovered!!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 6:36am

Danau Girang Field Center canteen screened in porch.
Only two full days left in camp and what an incredible experience it has been!
I’ve been thinking more and more about the family back home. Yesterday I logged into my google account at the Center’s computer lab to store our data on a Doc and I saw that Christi sent a Happy Father’s Day email. The picture on the email melted my heart: both kiddos were holding a small sign, “Happy Fathers Day Dad”…. It seems that I am rarely home on Father’s day, instead I am in some far off land, chasing wild dreams instead of home. In the past four years, I have spent three Father’s Days away: Greenland, Mongolia, Borneo.
~Last night, our fearless leader Jill led us in group yoga. I’d never done yoga before. We stretched, we relaxed and when we were done, most of us were a pile of uber-relaxed goo on the floor. I slept like a king!
This morning my Biodiversity group boarded boats again to search for more vertebrates. By 10 am my watch was reading 97 degrees and it kept climbing all morning. The air here is still, stagnant and thick. However, I am feeling quite adjusted to the conditions and have never felt terribly uncomfortable.
Soon we will eat lunch then sit for a few talks in the afternoon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Along the Kinabatangan River
My confidence that this journal is not going to be lost is increasing by the hour and I feel that I can now actually write something meaningful in here…
~To step back a few days:
We settled into Danau Girang Field Center (DGFC) into dormitory style living, perched amidst towering jungle and a chocolate colored oxbow lake.
The first day gave us a chance to settle in with a few short introductions and talks.
The second half of the expedition has already proven to be much different from the first. I like that things are broken into two distinct experiences. We are living dorm style which is actually quite comfortable after “home stay” only because we feel like we can let our guard down and relax a bit (there is a hint of awkwardness when you are living in somebody’s house)
Many in our group felt a little edgy and uncomfortable during long periods in their “home stay” home, however, I can say I felt very comfortable most of the time, except for the awkwardness of the “dress up” time, but that is all in the other journal.
The canteen and meeting/computer facilities here at DGFC are VERY nice! This camp, hiding in a terribly remote area of the jungle is well cared for, well equipped, nicely staffed, and very beautiful. I have already had a number of unique experiences here. 
Frog huntin'
Last night, three of us joined Sarah, the frog lady, on one of her nightly “hunts”. We left DNGC very near dark an ended up traveling up a small tributary of the Kinabatangan River. We trekked a short distanceinto the jungle and waited for nightfall. Then the headlamps came on and the jungle was transformed into a sensory nightmare! Moving shadows, screaming sounds, and glowing eyes made the darkness come alive, in the most creepy way!
Up to this point I had been surprised at the relatively small number of spiders I had seen. But, I soon realized that each diamond like sparkle in the forest is the reflection of a headlamp in a spiders eyes. In some spots it looked as though somebody had taken a bucket of diamonds and tossed them in every direction where they became suspended in space and time, dangling in the air, resting on the ground and tucked on the underside of a leaf. It very much reminded me of the movie Avatar; only this was a real-life 3-D freak show!
Each time we found a frog it kind of brought the experience back to reality and we saw several frogs, but we had to work for it!
The areas where we were hiking were the most dense, most muddy, and most wet places I have been! Our guide slowly cut away trees and strangling branches so we could inch our way into the darkness; the glowing diamond eyes watching our every move.
The whole thing was intense and it was utterly awesome at the same time!
Sarah and our guide check the GPS coordinates.

Most of the frogs we found were very tiny.

Spiders rule the night!

~This morning I had a similar experience but without all the cruelty of the night before. Three of us joined the camera trap team on their daily routine to collect SD cards and change batteries. We trudged through similar terrain but saw very few critters.
The crew instructs me to rake the trails near the camera traps to encourage animals to travel along the path.

This afternoon our Biodiversity group boarded a boat and collected data on vertebrate sightings along the river. I saw a few “firsts”: wild boar, silver leaf monkey, and many new birds (horn bills and raptors).