Tuesday, 7 July 2015

saying goodbye to malaysia

Borneo awed me in unexpected ways. There was, of course, the rainforest trees pouring over the landscape for as far as my eyes could see, the pair of wild orangutans that we were so blessed to spot, the numerous monkey families (often with little ones clinging to the underbellies of the parents), and the exotic birds with colourful crowns sprouting from their long beaks. But there was also the full leafed ivy engulfing the telephone poles along the edge of the road; the boom of the rain drops slapping the ground during one of the strongest storms; foolishly dancing with Bella on our balcony; a rainy river cruise with the most refreshing cool air; watching young orphaned orangutans tumbling over one another at the shelter; and an evening mist that swallowed up the mountain roads as low hanging clouds dotted the peaks, obscuring the distant waterfalls that glistened through the trees.

I was saddened by the endless palm tree plantations. The scale is unfathomable. Just as you can stand in the middle of the forest and see nothing but jungle, so can you stand in the middle of a plantation and see nothing except palm trees eating away at the hills and valleys for miles upon miles. I believe profoundly in the goodness of the human spirit, but sights like this affirm in my mind that we are a vile species. Our guide told us that the primary rainforest has all been logged away. Now only the secondary forest remains. We reap such destruction.

Malaysia was not what I expected. I thought that my experience there would be similar to my first experiences in Bali— endless wonder and ever-expanding love in a place that nurtured my being and fed my soul. But there was something that perturbed me about Malaysia. I think I was craving a level of authenticity that I only grasped briefly in the jungle drives and on the beaches of Turtle Island. My memories of Borneo have grown more and more beautiful with time, but I can't forget the horrific destruction either. I know that I want to go back one day. I feel like there is still more for me there— more to discover and a magnificence that I never got to experience.

Our flight departed Malaysia at sunset and it was an extraordinary farewell. The sky glowed. Bella and I clicked our cameras rapidly, awed by the beauty as our plane rose through the air.

Fun fact: Malaysian drivers like to put big stickers with movie titles on their cars ("Transformers," "Terminator," "Transporter.")