On this trip, we journey to a place where tropical wildlife, jungle rivers, and flowing waterfalls share the land with some of the rarest mammals on earth. It is one of only two places on earth where you can spot the endangered orangutan in the wild. It is a place that will challenge you with its adventure and bring you back to nature with its landscape. It's time to visit the road less traveled in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, Malaysia.
Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia and our adventure combines eco-tourism with relaxation. The island is divided among three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the north, and Indonesia to the south.
On this trip, we visit the Malaysian state of Sarawak where we explore the Kuching, the state capital. One of the best ways to experience the region's nature is by longboat, which have been used for centuries. We ride along the lake in Batang Ai, a national park known for its extensive tropical rainforest. The boats zip across the waters like speedboats mixed with the tranquility of a canoe.
Next, it's time to get up close and personal with the region's jungle landscape. We take a canopy walk through the jungle treetops, which includes several suspended bridges high above the forest ground.
Set on the edge of the worldâs most ancient rainforest on the mystical island of Borneo is the Aiman Batang Ai Resort & Retreat, inspired by the architecture of the traditional Iban longhouses. The resort provides the ideal getaway for those seeking a one-of-a-kind escape that is adventurous yet fully relaxing at the same time.
To get to the orangutang wildlife reserve, we arrive via kayak along the swift-flowing river in Kampung Danu. Kayaking in the Borneo Highland area is truly a fascinating way to be surrounded and intimate with Mother Nature and an ideal introduction to rural Sarawak. It is also a fun-filled activity to see the stunning scenery of massive rocks among pristine river.
Finally, we reached one of the most unforgettable experiences in our travels - a chance to view one of the most endangered mammals in the wild. We visit the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, an orangutang sanctuary where we encounter the orangutans in their natural habitat. This wildlife center was established in 1975 to care for the orangutans previously held captive as illegal pets, injured, or orphaned in the rainforest.
The moment when we see the unmistakable orange great apes, it inspires a collective "awe" from the group. Everyone marveled in silence as we watched the orangutans effortlessly climb and swing through the treetops, feast on bananas, and lounge in the jungle. Their expressions and behaviors were so human like. Today they are critically endangered, which makes it such a special treat to see them up close.
Orangutans can live 35-35 years! We watch as an older orangutang eats bananas while the younger ones swing through the trees like a trapeze! Their balance is remarkable as many of them hang on by one branch.
To sum up our trip, a quote comes to mind:
It's better to look back at life and say "I can't believe I did that" instead of "I wish I did that".
âThis was the trip to do something different. It was a chance to go to a land less traveled and experience nature unlike any other. Sarawak Borneo opened our eyes to the purest nature, rarest mammals, peaceful wilderness, and of course, the Malaysian hospitality. We hope you get a chance to experience it very soon.
Malaysia is home to over 30 million people and is a country filled with diversity in cultures, food, and cityscapes. During my trip to Asia, I made a stop over in Kuala Lumpur, the modern and unique capital city. Upon landing, I noticed the Malaysian flag everywhere - people carrying flags, flags on buildings, flags along the streets. I thought - wow this is a very patriotic place. Then I realized it wasn't just a normal day - it was Merdeka Day, or independence day! What are the chances that I land in Malaysia on this special holiday? Malaysia was celebrating their 60th anniversary of their independence from British rule.
With only 24 hours to spare in the city, I wanted to catch the Merdeka celebrations and hit the city's top highlights: the Batu Caves and Petronas Towers. Check out the behind the scenes video:
1. Merdeka Day
On Merdeka Day, August 31st, we woke up to the sound of military planes flying over the city. A group of fighter jets flew in unison across the unique cityscape.
2. Batu Caves
The Batu Caves are one of the most unique sites, easily accessible by the metro. We took a 30 minute metro ride from KL Sentral directly to the Batu Caves, a sacred Hindu site that features limestone caves and mischievous monkeys. As soon as I exited the metro, it felt like we were in India. Outside the cave is an Indian market, which is a feast for the senses. It smells like incense, there are fresh coconut stands, people making durian crepes, mukukku (an Indian snack), marigold flower necklaces, among many other shops.
The caves are accessible by a large staircase, lined with many mischievous monkeys. There are so many monkeys that we have to dodge them as we climb up to the caves. Finally, we reached the cave entrance - which was dark and filled with Hindu deities. It was magical and mysterious.
3. Petronas Towers
The Petronals towers are the Iconic symbol of Kuala Lumpur and the tallest twin towers in the world. The towers have an impossing, gun metal grey color that dominates the skyline. At one point, they were the tallest buildings in the world, but that title was taken by the Taipei 101, and other buildings. There is an observation deck, but it has extremely limited availablity of about 1000 tickets per day, and it is time slotted. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance. Otherwise, you can enjoy the towers from the outside, which includes a large water fountain and park.
Next, we take the train back to the airport - off to other adventures. Terima Kasih Malaysia!
Welcome to Thailand! On this trip, we take the Phuket Ferry to the Phi Phi Islands, a magical group of islands about two hours off the coast. The beaches include Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh islands, which have turquoise waters, sheer green cliffs, and some of the best snorkeling in the world. It looks like paradise. Here's how to photograph these beautiful islands.
Behind the scenes vlog:
First, we board the ferry around 9am which takes us on a scenic ride to the Phi Phi Islands. We dock off coast of Monkey Beach off of Ko Phi Phi Don to go snorkeling. Our boat provided the snorkel gear and I brought my GoPro. We dive into the underwater adventure and see the best coral reefs and sea life, like parrot fish.
Here's what to bring to get those amazing underwater and aerial shots:
View of the longtail boats from monkey beach:
Time to dive in! View from the waters of Phi Phi Islands:
Next, we go to Monkey Beach where we see mischievous monkeys grabbing tourist's items, like sunglasses, beer, and more! Here is the view from the water looking towards Monkey Beach (shot with GoPro).
We get back on the boat to visit Krabi beach, where we go swimming in the warm waters. Then it's time to head back to Phuket!
Phuket Ferry Schedule:
Phi Phi Island Boat Tour:
What are your favorite places in Thailand to go snorkeling? Comment below!
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.