From Borneo and Around

This blog is all about Borneo (and sometimes elswere) as I experience it. It's about places, people, fauna, food ... and anything I find pleasantly worth sharing in words and pictures.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


                                                           COME AND VISIT ME!

I am always left speechless whenever (and it has happened quite a number of times) a female- friend tells me that her husband or someone's else's has gone astray because - here it comes!- "the other woman" has been using black-magic.

I understand that other people in other places have different beliefs yet I can't help thinking that Sarawak could be heaven for cheating husbands, with their wife literally exonerating them while crucifying "the other woman".

Sarawakians, so I found out, are far from holding the monopoly in blaming their woos on the paranormal. A philipino friend once told me, and very seriously so, how his neighbour had married a "dwarf" (understand an etheral being, visible only to a few chosen people) who had given her no less than five children, a nice big house, an expensive car, designer clothes etc, etc. As it was, everybody in the neightborhood understood perfectly well that they would never see her husband because, heck, he was a "dwarf"! From what I read in the news, American men are not imune to the paranormal insinuating itself into their domestic life, like this Wisconsin man accused by his wife of punching her in the face and strangling her, who told the police: "A ghost did it". No kidding!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Of all the wonderful treats which I can enjoy (and afford!) while living in Kuching, my favourite is without a doubt a visit to Paradise; Paradise Wellness Centre that is, where I like to check-in for a one and half hour of Chinese reflexology with masseuse no.12 aka Siaw Hu Hu.

Siaw Hu Hu

Upon arrival I am immediately directed to a huge super comfy armchair, one of a row of eight separated by see-through curtains. Somehow, the alcove feels private; the decor, a small hanging lantern and a picture on the wall I am facing, is very pleasant and the room is squeaky clean. Siaw Hu Hu brings a basin filled with hot water and salts. As I slowly sink my feet into the water, she instructs me to turn around and to seat on the velvety foot-rest. I am in for reflexology with a plus: pressure massage and stretching of the neck, the shoulders, the arms all the way down to the finger tips, and the back all the way down. She’s pushing, kneading, pulling, rubbing, and twisting... while I have surrendered to her expertise.

I’m now back on the oversized recliner and she grabs my feet out of the basin, pats them dry then keeps the right one wrapped up in a towel. Some people like to watch TV (there’s one for every seat), some like to drink tea or even order and down a plate of noodles; I like to spend the remaining hour in silence, eyes closed, mind focused on what’s happening to my feet and legs and unashamedly delighting in being pampered. When I leave Paradise, it’s on happy feet.

You do not have a no.12 reflexologist near-by? There’s still the DIY method. Reflexology charts are available on the internet to help you locate the different reflex areas you may need to pay attention to. If it’s sore, it needs care; feet never lie and reflexologists can give you accurate diagnosis on your health. You are not flexible enough to reach and massage your feet? Check out the hands reflexology chart. I have my own charts and I massage my feet regularly but right now, I’m off to Paradise and surrender into the capable hands of no. 12 aka Siaw Hu Hu.

Paradise Wellness Centre  
 1st floor, Stutong Parade,
(Opposite Kuching Specialists Hospital)                                                                                Jalan Setia Raja, Kuching 93350
Tel: 082 368118                                                                                                                             


A Borneo dragon
From Basic Iban Design by Augustine Anggat Ganjing

The 23rd of January 2012 will usher the year of the water dragon which hasn’t been seen since the 13th of February 1953. There’s been the wood dragon, the fire dragon, the earth and the metal dragon and now the wheel has turned back to the water element.

What can we expect from the only mythological animal of the 12 that represent the Chinese calendar?                                             Just like with western astrology, Chinese signs are bearers of particular characters and qualities which surface in the psychological make-up of anyone born under their year of influence. For those who were or will be born under the fifth sign of the Chinese horoscope, the good news is that the dragon means luck. Yes!!!                                                                                Indeed if you were born in 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 or and obviously 2012, you are likely to be a free spirited type of person who shows very little regards for rules and regulations and, probably because you enjoy the lucky spell of your sign, the odds are that you will attract lots of success.                    With a yin comes a yang and the flip of the coin is that you may become easily frustrated with things not going fast enough for you. In their relationship with others, dragons are readily helpful and yet too proud to ask for help when they need it.

The Chinese dragon and for that matter all Asian dragons happen to be associated with wisdom as well as longevity which is exactly what the world needs right now; so lets’ welcome the dragon and hope that it will keep its promises. In any case, I wish everyone good luck.
Kong Xi! Kong Xi!

Cats by Annie R.Teo

Monday, January 2, 2012


“No. There are no gorillas in Borneo; at least not of the great apes family anyway. We do have orang-utans though.”

Who they are:

Orang-utan in Malay and local dialects mean person (orang) of the forest (utan) or more simply “man of the forest”. Scientists however refer to these great apes as Pongo Pygmaeus of which they are two groups: .The Pongo Pygmaeus Pygmaeus lives on the island of Borneo, is round faced and covered in dark red hair.

. The Pongo Pygmaeus Abelii lives in Sumatra, has a narrow face and a clearer coat.

Where they live in Borneo

In the wild, in the tropical rain forest and low-lying swamps.

In captivity, in rehabilitation centres set up in sanctuaries: Sepilok, near the town of Sandakan in Sabah; and Semmongoh and Kubah near Kuching in Sarawak. Indonesian Kalimantan has its own programme too.

What they look like

Like men of the forest dressed in a red furry coat. Large body, thick neck, long and very strong arms, bowed legs, no tail. They can weigh 50 to 90kg.

What they really are

Great Asian apes or perhaps Maias, the name given to the local Big Foot.

How long they’ve been around

20 million years it seems!

How long they are going to be around

Depends on us. In Borneo (Sabah/Sarawak) there are only about 12 000 of them left to live in the wild.

How long they live

About 50 years in captivity, which is longer than it is in the wild.

How fast they reproduce

Rather slow. It takes 7 to 10 years for a female to be able to reproduce. It takes about 9 months for her to deliver her baby. One single baby! It takes another 4 years at least before she mates again as she has to look after her first or youngest child who will stay with her for as long as 6 to 7 years. Daddy does not stick around. Luckily the eldest helps with the newly born sibling.

What they eat

Mostly plants and fruit and sometimes insects and small birds; they are omnivores.

What they drink

Water trapped in branches or leaves.

Where they sleep

They build platform nests in the trees using twigs and leaves and they build a new “bed” every night; a good idea to prevent infestation by insects or unwelcome visits by snakes.

How they move around

From branch to branch; this is called brachiating. They are great swingers!

How to help

Is by visiting WWF Malaysia website and donate.

These pictures were taken at

Semmongoh Centre (by yours truly). I am so fortunate to live only 5km away from the centre so that I can visit the orang-utans many times a year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


From Basic Iban Design by Augustine Anggat Ganjing

Attending Robert Raymer’s creative workshop was so refreshing; a tonic boost really. It wasn’t all listening of course and we, lucky participants, had to turn an experience into an article. So here is my story which could have gone so many different ways, really, and probably will soon. Thanks to Robert whom I invite you to follow on his blog.

It had been a spur of the moment idea. Dinner had ended and I had volunteered to throw the mussels shells into the sungai (river) which blesses our family by crossing right in the centre of our three acres property, a mere fifty meters from our terrace.

The afternoon had brought some drizzle and I put on a pair of rubber thongs to walk the stone-slab-path which, lately, had become seriously overgrown with grass. I had also remembered to bring a torch light, which was common sense after nine o’clock at night. Holding the torch while trying not to spill the large glass bowl filled to the brink with half emptied shells and still hot with stock, I was walking confidently, one step behind the cropped tail of my devoted Caramel, and I could already hear the water jumping over the man-made dam and rushing its swollen flow past underneath the belian* bridge that leads to the second and unoccupied half of our farm. Intent on watching my feet, a sudden fear grabbed and stopped me in the instant: What if I crossed a snake?

Needless to say, I had just opened a Pandora box of horrors sustained with personal memories of past experiences: the viper I almost stepped on while in Kinabalu Park; the large brown snake that killed Sunset, my brave cocker spaniel, right in the centre of Kuching city; the long grass snake I found casually napping underneath our living room sofa or even the more recent colourful visitor which had elected to relax on the broad arm of my wicker chair on the terrace; not forgetting that chilli and so amazing encounter I had yesterday with a King Cobra that gave me a royal salute from the side of the road, before slowly withdrawing into the safety of tall grasses, head up and high, as I proceeded to drive on and home.

Of course I am scared of snake; and living on a farm in Borneo brings the odds of meeting reptiles to a frightening statistical number; yet it is not fear of that kind of reptiles that bothers me. In fact, and to the risk of appearing bold silly, I am not really afraid of any animals but rather of not knowing what to do with them so that I may survive an encounter such as one with a defensive poisonous snake and still let my attacker go in peace. I must confess that, so far, I have been oh, so lucky never to be alone every time I had to face a serpent, so that I did not have to find out, in an extreme situation, if I had the guts to pin the lethal head to the ground with my long stand-by harpoon. Truly, I often wonder how I will actually react the day I’ll find myself alone with, let’s say... a cobra?

Still holding my step while my dog is staring at me with expecting eyes, the scene we are creating together feels like it has been caught in a time warp: we are suspended in time. My mind is definitely on hard drive and I am asking myself what I am doing here, alone (except for a toy poodle!), in the dark of the night, in a Borneo countryside, with my feet and legs exposed... I read somewhere that it takes about ten seconds of thinking to make a person either a deserter or a hero. My ten seconds are now over and I find myself back to present time and action. I look at Caramel and I command him “Let’s go!” as I slap my rubber soles on the ground to warn-off any creature lurking nearby. Who’s afraid now?

Belian: Borneo iron wood.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Her name is Brindemauve

I made her dress out of a Malaysian batik sarong and had fun playing with the designs.




Located 25km from Kuching, this fully furnished 4 bedrooms single storey country home has a unique design. It sits on a 1.0765 hectares lot crossed by a small mountain water river. Easy access by Kuching-Serian road.

Top of Form

Mile 16 – Kuching-Serian Road

Hobby Farm
4 with bathrooms
M2,500,00 Net

Estate Agent
By owner


Genuine inquiries welcome through email to   Ref: “Ko Ko Wangi”

Bottom of Form

Located only 25km from Kuching, yet the ideal country retreat for nature lovers and bird watchers. Nicely furnished, own unique design, solar heated water system, covered car park for 3 vehicles and large store room attached to car park. Huge deep terrace (120 X 50 feet) with belian wood flooring.
All rooms are over sized: 4 bedrooms each with own bathroom, family room, living room, kitchen dining room, laundry and pub-karaoke room. Most rooms with native timber flooring and fitted with an individual air-conditioning unit.
Landscaped land with 2 fish-breeding ponds and 2 decorative ponds, small mountain river running through. Fruit trees and heliconia plants.
Village style wooden house for working couple accommodation. Easy access by Kuching-Serian Road. 

 Bedrooms: 4                       | Bathrooms: 4 + 1 Visitors’ Toilet
 Land area 1.0765 Hectares
 Built up area 6,000sf