|For a quick overview of Malaysia by the BBC, click here
Arrived in Kuching, the largest city (500,000 people) in Malaysian Borneo. We like Malaysia so far! It might be the most under-rated Asian country (after Laos, which people just don't know about) we've visited. The people are friendly, but not overly so. They are happy to help you if you ask, but otherwise leave you to it. The food is delicious and incredibly cheap. The infrastructure here is much better developed than we expected. Roads are excellent, water clean, electricity plentiful and streetlights and sidewalks abound.
We spent 4 nights here, wandering around the relatively small city center, eating lots of street food, visiting a Chinese temple, the Sepilok Museum and attending a cultural festival. We learned on our museum visit that this region had been controlled by James Brooke, a (mostly) self-appointed British "Raja" of the region for over 100 years. He apparently got permission from the Sultan of Brunei, but it left us baffled that he could just show up and take power in that way. Different times.
Our first night here, we discovered a dancing/singing festival happening at the waterfront. We grabbed some seats and enjoyed the show and ended up being invited to dance in front of the crowd at one point! Randomly coming across this kind of local event is one of the greatest reasons to travel.
One of our days, we took a day trip to hike in Bako National Park. We went there hoping to spot the proboscis monkey (which we did along with long-tailed macaques) and to try out the binoculars we bought in Singapore (which we hope to use to see orangutans in our upcoming jungle trips). To get to the park, we hired a boat to take us down the river, through the South China Sea, to the trailhead. Because the tide was out, we had to wade ashore. Beautiful park and a very scenic hike (~ 4 hours), but we've never sweat so much in our lives. It was hot, humid and hard. We are hoping to avoid future hiking of this kind and are desperately trying to find a boat trip that might enable us to see the orangutans from the river!