Tuesday, 17 March 2015

borneo part one: kinabalu

It was raining when Bella and I arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. We had just come from Nusa Lembongan in Bali where it had not rained for three months and where the heat had been dry and intense. While Malaysia was still hot, it was also incredibly humid when the skies weren't flooding.

We only had one full day in Kota Kinabalu before flying to Sandakan and we spent that day on a tour that took us to a local market, the Mount Kinabalu lookout, Kinabalu National Park, the canopy walk, and Poring Hot Springs. But I think my favourite part of the day was simply driving through the mountains and jungles and getting to witness the enormity of Borneo. On the drive back to the hotel from the national park, the sky clouded over and a heavy mist began to wash over everything. On one side of the road, thick jungle trees rushed out of the Earth and on the other, a forested valley opened up surrounded by green mountains seemed to go on for eternity. And fog all around. Bella asked our car to pull over so we could photograph the low clouds that were floating against the body of Mount Kinabalu and the mist that was following our vehicle. There was a small waterfall in the distance.

It was a perfect moment. Looking back, I know that it was one of the defining instances of my experience in Borneo: sliding from one window of the van to the other, clutching my camera, my eyes so wide and my heart so full, one of my best friends doing the same dance in the row in front of me, knowing that she is feeling the same great sense of awe and appreciation. Nature the likes of which I had never before witnessed unfolded around all us. The wet air faded into fog and chased us as we serpentined through the peaks. This is the true Earth. It's almost like we were never really there.

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