Oh Borneo, I Love You, Leeches and All!

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When I was in 3rd grade in the early 70’s, our substitute teachers would keep us preoccupied and out of trouble with random films. One of the fan favorites was the documentary about Orangutans. Back then, we actually had projectors with reels! (It was also a point in life when I ate paste at school). Since that time, seeing these amazing animals in person was a lifelong dream.

Decades later, I made it to Borneo to see them in the flesh. A few summers ago (like 4), I had the opportunity to experience a 2 week “expedition” through the country. I booked it with Natural Habitat Adventures – an amazing outfitter located down the street from my home in Colorado.

We started in Kuching, Malaysia and made our way through Serawak, the Danum Valley, and ended on the South China Sea in Kota Kinabalu. We spent time at orangutan sanctuaries, witnessed these amazing animals swinging from limb to limb in their natural habitat, tubed down a river in the rain forest, wore leech socks to keep the blood suckers off our feet (not a good fashion statement, btw), witnessed 5 million bats fly out of a cave, sat patiently until 4 flying squirrels coasted through the air, saw tons of colorful birds, all sorts of monkeys, centipedes, pygmy elephants, sea turtles nesting on a beach and oh sooo much more.

For the record, we only saw leeches in the Danum Valley. One thing to note, those leeches can slink into the smallest places, like pant zippers. One of our traveling companions had one very close to his family jewels. I only know this as I happened to see him running to the bathroom on one fine, rainy, rain forest day.

Words cannot describe the trip adequately but the pictures and videos can!

Here are some of my favorite images from the trip. Not all are mine. I did not prepare myself AT ALL for photographic moments….thank goodness for amazing travel companions and their photography skills. Not exactly sure what I was thinking, not bringing the right lenses. UGH.

Also, my fellow traveler Dr. Huang, created a 10 minute YouTube video for us if you care to see the whole trip in action (see below). She is a gifted and talented photographer and did a great job putting the whole trip together. MAGICAL. I just watched the video this morning to escape to another place for a few minutes – I forgot how much it rained and was reminded how incredible this trip truly was.

Cheers to all the wonderful creatures and people in this world!!

…i choose this…



  1. I’m a former teacher who remembers showing films on reels and students who ate paste! So this brings back memories! If the film snapped and broke, I had no lesson plan! But after seeing these pictures, I’m pretty sure some of my kids could have done monkey impersonations to fill the time!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. hahaha!! Yes, the sarong tying lesson was priceless. I think they gave us one for the trip which most of us wore on occasion. The trip was crazy fun. Absolutely loved my travel companions. There was not one who was annoying…kind of a miracle really.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, just look at all the beautiful creatures; Borneo forests are home to some of the most amazing animals on this planet, that’s for sure! Although, I probably wouldn’t even be able to name half of them. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know right? The trip was really cool, as we did boat safari’s (day and night) and hikes at night so we could see it all. Those fuzzy caterpillars look soft don’t they? Nope! Those white whiskers are like glass. We had to be careful where we put our hands. lol

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The video she put together is just amazing. I haven’t found the patience to figure out how to do it. Some day, when work doesn’t get in the way! I was telling a friend that watching this video seemed so foreign to me – a ‘remember when’ moment and a very distant memory. I am hopeful we will be back on the road soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahhh, the old projectors and film reels 🙂 I remember them well! I’d probably be lost in a modern classroom haha. These pictures are amazing – that bridge looks a bit treacherous! On my travels, I’ve happened upon two bridges that are on the “Top 10 Scariest Bridges” list. 🙂 Can’t wait until we can all travel again!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know right? My other favorite thing to do was beat the chalkboard erasers out on the playground. I think Ramona the Pest did that, and I was inspired. LOL The bridge was a little scary for sure, little swing. Did you post about said bridges? I need to read if you did!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Mel! I cannot wait also. I am doing this virtual tour to hike the Camino…so logging all of my cycling, walking, running, hiking miles. Along the way this group plants trees when I hit certain milestones. It’s keeping me distracted and in shape. I may do a post on it soon.

      Also, I am a HUGE fan of Kath and Kim!! OMG, that show makes me laugh so hard. Did you ever watch it??

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an amazing thing to inspire elementary school pupils to contemplate and dream of going to places so exotic and different.
    Your photos are fantastic. And my favourite part of the video is the gibbons calling. It really is like a dream.
    I’ve never been tempted by tropical forest environments for some reason. I think they remind me of that book from an American author…. Southern… shoot, I forgot the name!
    Anyway, probably too overpowering for me!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The gibbons….sooo cool – really. I also had this thing about flying squirrels when I was a kid…and actually seeing them in addition to the Orangutans was truly pretty special. There are definitely all kinds of creepy crawlers out there. The leeches were a slightly terrifying to me. I think in the video you can see them jump on to our guides hand. They will do that after it rains to feed. UGH. Somehow I managed to remain unscathed, but probably because I was a nut about inspecting myself every 5 seconds. haha.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aren’t they the cutest?? Our guide filmed them one morning running around from tree to tree. It was awesome. I may have to dig it up and add it to this post. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read the post and watch the video! cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a Bornean Bearded Pig! We grew up in Texas fearful of any wild pig encounter – they’ll shred your legs if you get to close to them. This one appeared to have been fairly socialized to be around humans – but definitely stayed fairly far away from this guy just in case!


  5. What a great trip! I watched the video to escape as you did, but also to try to find you in all the shots – haha! The whole thing seems like something from the faraway past – exotic travel, people all around you, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for my virtual visit Borneo without getting leeches on me! It looked like such a wonderful experience but I don’t do well in hot humid weather was creepy things. What a fabulous experience!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, all kinds of creepy crawlies! I mentioned to someone else in the comments, that you had to be really careful where you put your hands….like on railings and such. All kinds of things crawling on top and under. LOL. Definitely humid – jeez….pretty sure we were wet nearly the entire time, but we had a ball!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Those pictures are simply stunning, Pam ! I remember you talking about Borneo and the amazing trip you had there a few years back and I can only imagine what it truly was thanks to these shots. Wow, no wonder you have such fond memories of the place. It looks fantastic !
    You’re one of the few who can master looking even remotely sexy in leeches socks, BTW ! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wish I was the photographer for all of them…In fact, I should probably go back in and at least put their initials on them. Not sure they would love their names floating around the internet!! I can assure you there is not one ounce of sexiness with the sox – but thank you sweet one. hahaha!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yet another fabulous adventuresome trip! One which I would hesitate to make even though it is only a stone’s throw away – the crawlies would do me in! And that is why I love that you share them so I can vicariously enjoy the beautiful wildlife from my comfy nook!

    Junior’s demo of manly sarong wearing is a hoot! I did not realise there was a man way & a woman way … and my grandmother was a sarong wearing Nonya! I continue to learn.

    P/S Reels and paste were also very much a part of my Singaporean primary school experience! Another universal phenomenon!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You can see Malaysia from Singapore can’t you?! It is literally a stone’s throw away. Junior was totally hilarious – we loved him. I do love how there are universal things in this world to tie us all together. You probably didn’t eat paste though. LOL


      1. Actually, I did eat paste – the ones that came in little plastic tubs, with it’s own little mini-spatula. For some reason, it was a thing amongst the girls I sat around (went to a girls school for most of my life). Do you remember how it started with you – like was it a dare?

        Yes, if you go to the north of the island, we have a clear view of Malaysia; it certainly isn’t far away at all.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, if a substitute teacher can have that kind of influence, then surely I, as a regular teacher, am influencing on a daily basis! Yay me! But seriously, this blog is not about me. It’s about you and your trip. And what an amazing trip it appears to have been. Those animals! Those bugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know, monkeys are some of the best! Definitely funny creatures. I was once in Japan sitting in a natural ‘hot spot’ in a river – BY MYSELF somehow – and had the pleasure of watching some macaques play around in the trees. It was an unbelievable experience. I always forget about the cool stuff until I start writing about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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