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.