Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Malaysia: Exploring Exotic Borneo

"Look at that peeping tom," my nature guide exclaimed as we walked by one of the luxurious chalets positioned on the river front. My head swiveled quickly to catch the monkey jumping up and down on the chalet wall peering through the windows. As I laughed, we watched on, realizing that the monkey was enthralled with his own reflection on the windows.

1 little monkey jumping on the wall.

After a few weeks exploring Borneo I'd become accustomed to events like these which would normally have seemed out of place in my concrete jungle (or...suburban jungle). I had already dined in the rainforest on tropical beaches, scuba dived in one of the best dive sites in the world, and spent sunrises and sunsets cruising the Kinabatangan River looking for wildlife...all in Malaysian Borneo. And now I was experiencing something truly fascinating and unlike anything I'd ever seen nestled deep into the rainforest at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. The journey to get there was an adventure in and of itself.

At the crack of dawn my driver Wan picked me up in his 4x4 truck to begin the drive. As he quipped, "You can call me Obi Wan Kanobi," I knew we would get along on this 2.5 hour drive. While we drove down the well maintained roads, I questioned whether the massive tires on the truck were really necessary or whether it was all for show. Then we turned off the main road and quickly the scenery changed from small villages to thick, lush, dense rainforest. We continued on, spotting elephants, monkeys, and even a cobra (from the safety of our vehicle)! 

Then we came to a small river and Wan charged ahead in our 4x4. Clearly...the tires were necessary. As we emerged into a clearing after a magical drive, the lights of the main lodge house flickered as if to welcome me to my home for the next few days. I was greeted by the friendliest people who showed me around the open air lodge, complete with an amazing restaurant which receives daily shipments of food (all by 4x4!) which is turned into a fascinating array of local and international dishes.

4x4s are for a reason!

Over the next few days I fell in love with the enchantment of the rainforest and its wildlife. Without another lodge or reserve in a 2 hour radius, the wildlife is very active and the rainforest has been well maintained. Unlike other safari style resorts where I'd stayed, this one was tucked away, a true gem hidden from the masses. I felt like I was in a secluded area, where I would wake up to the sounds of the rainforest...frogs, birds, a light morning rain on the roof of my chalet. And then I would quietly stir for a day of activities: bird watching from the canopy walk, hiking to a beautiful view over the rainforest, floating the river on inner tubes, or walking nature trails with our amazingly knowledgeable guide. 

The main open air lodge and restaurant.

Excellent meals and tropical fruits!

When my final day at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge came to a close I waved goodbye to my new friends at the lodge and my only solace in leaving such a beautiful place was knowing that I would return to share it with travelers on our 12-day tour of Malaysia. To this day, each and every time I return and pull off that main road, I do so with the same anticipation of my first visit...with a surprising and unexpected adventure awaiting me in the middle of the lush rainforest.

Join us on our Discover Malaysia Food & Adventure Tour March 7-18, 2018. Read what our travelers loved about Malaysia here, and review the itinerary and details here. The tour is limited to 12 people so please send us a message at info@thetablelesstraveled.com to reserve your spot or to inquire about availability. Enjoy more photos of our trip to Borneo below.

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