Thursday, May 22, 2008

Suspended Until Further Notice

This blog is suspended, not so much because of lack of interest (although the deafening silence cause by lack of comments is disheartening) but because I'm going away for 5 weeks. France for family, Morocco for adventure (and food) and London for culture (West End and V&A, here I come). Be warned, this blog will probably bore you with photos and stories from Morocco in July — still, it'll be a change from Borneo.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Doggerel Time

There are times when the beauty of the rainforest really jolts the emotions — and the memory. As Cede Prudente (a superb photographer and nature guide) and I recently gazed at this stunning giant towering over the forest, we both started reciting "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree"...

The tree in question is a Kompassia excelsa, known locally as menggaris. Luckily for the tree (and us), it has no value as timber — it's hollow at the core — so still stands tall in the logged forest. The trunk is so smooth and rises so high before the branches begin that bears and orangutans cannot climb it to steal the honey from the nests that the bees so cleverly build here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Meanwhile, out in the Rainforest

I haven't written anything for ages (apart from work-related material) and this time, I actually have a good excuse. We've spent the past couple of weekends out enjoying what we love most about Borneo: its amazing environment.

The highlights of our 3 days/2 nights at Tabin Wildlife Reserve in eastern Sabah were spotting a gibbon mother and baby; lots of exquisite birds including hornbills galore; eagles; the world's smallest raptor, the white-fronted Falconet, only 15 cm and devouring an even tinier bird; a diminutive Black & Yellow Broadbill which looks like a child had tried to use every colour in the paintbox to create a bird; an exquisite Black-backed Kingfisher; a Crested Fireback Pheasant stalking along the forest floor; a rare porcupine; a Bornean Pygmy Elephant — known as "Naughty" by the resort staff — who knows he owns the place; a 3-metre python and a deadly Pit Viper twined around a tree just 2 metres from our dining table.

Three days back home and then it was off to the peat swamp forest of Binsuluk, a couple of hours south of KK, to see lots of different species of pitcher plant, more birds and even the odd proboscis monkey. To wash off all the mud before we returned yesterday, we lolled about in the warm waters of the South China Sea.

This Friday, we're heading south to the Sarawak city of Miri, and the International Jazz Festival. Not a bird in sight (though there will no doubt be bottles).