Kuala Lumpur, May 12, 2001
Malaysia has been a mixed bag of delights and disappointments. One of our biggest mistakes was not purchasing a fieldguide for the birds of Borneo before we arrived. We spent several days in Kuala Lumpur searching for a proper book but came up empty-handed. Finally we settled for a limited book of photographs and a small, outdated field-guide that we picked up Kota Kinabalu airport.
Another one of our blunders was not booking our accommodations in advance at the more popular national parks. Malaysia’s parks are run more like resorts than campsites, so the accommodations are tripled in price and the cheaper rooms get booked first. We didn’t have much luck with hotels outside the park either. These places would often charge outrageous amounts for dumps. This was the first time we met travelers who complained about bedbugs in their rooms. Lastly, even the most expensive rooms had their resident rats.
Now, on to the bright side of life! Our most heart stopping, eye popping moment was when we realized we were watching an orang utan in the wild – simply incredible! What’s even more amazing was that we weren’t in the dense forest, but on a side road outside Poring Hot Springs. Both peninsular Malaysia and Borneo had their share of exciting birds and it’s hard to complain about a park when you see eleven different species of bulbuls in one fruiting tree.
The people were also exceptionally nice. On our flight to Borneo I started talking to a girl who was sitting next to me and before the plane landed she invited us to stay with her family in Kota Kinabalu. I was tempted to ask her if anyone in her family might have the MacKinnon book, (A Field Guide To the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali), but instead just thanked her for her kind offer. As with most places we’ve visited, we will return. One of the advantages of being novice birders is that there are always plenty of birds we miss.