Sunday, April 29, 2018

Back to Borneo - Travel Days

BEEP!  BEEP!  BEEP!  BEEP! 

Huh, what the heck...it's 3:30AM what the heck is that?...oh wait..it's the alarm...time to get up and head to the airport.

BORNEO BABY!!

I think it was about 1 second after leaving Borneo in 2017 that I hatched a plan to go back.  I just didn't feel that we saw everything that we could see. We were especially disappointed to miss seeing Gibbon and Tarsier.  Not to mention that our 3 days in Sepilok and some activities at other lodges were almost entirely rained out.

So, we once again contacted AA Borneo and after lots of back and forth we eventually settled on this itinerary:

3 Nights Sepilok - Forest Edge Resort
6 Nights Daramakot
3 Nights Kinabatangan - Sukau Rainforest Lodge
3 Nights Danum - Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Due to flight times, we ended up adding bookend nights at the Forest Edge Resort in Sepilok for a total of 17 nights in country.

The problem was that we needed someone to go with us to lower the costs.  So, we turned to the Internet and put calls out to the Mammalwatching.com community and SafariTalk.net community.  We had a fair amount of interest but got a commitment from a couple based in Australia.  After a bit of communication and some minor tweaks to the itinerary the trip was booked.  Joining us in Borneo would be Tim and Andrea who are big wildlife lovers just like us.

So, on April 14th at 3:30AM the dreaded alarm went off.  But somehow, waking up at 3:30AM to go on a vacation is a lot easier than waking up at 6:00AM to go to work.  Go figure!

I could spend a whole post talking about the "fun" we had traveling to Borneo but I think that would cause me to lose the 2 whole readers I actually have.  So, here is a summary:
  • Tucson to SFO leg began with a screaming baby behind me kicking my seat
  • Aborted landing at SFO right before touch down due to plane being on our runway
  • All Nippon Air had great service and HORRIBLE food
  • Checked bags could only go as far as Kaula Lumpur (KL) due to 12 hour layover there
  • Couldn't make it to our booked hotel in the International terminal at KL because we had to leave the International terminal to pick up our bags and they wouldn't let us back in since we had a domestic transfer remaining
  • 2am walk to airport hotel (Sama Sama) only to find them booked but the concierge there arranged for a nearby hotel to pick us up so we ended up spending about 9 hours at the Oren (Orange) Hotel in Kuala Lumpur
  • Egg McMuffins for breakfast in KL since there was nothing else but they were super tasty
  • Arrived late in Sandakan due to delays leaving KL
And those were the highlights!

But, we did make it to Borneo and so did all of our bags which is all that really matters.  Waiting for us at the Sandakan airport was our driver Eric who would be handling all our transfers for this trip.  At 3:30 PM local time we arrive at the Forest Edge Resort.  So, 45 hours after that alarm went off we finally arrived at our destination. 

We ended up staying in the same chalet at Forest Edge as last time; Bilit.  Not much had changed except for the bat guano warning sign that we could have used last time (Sorry shoes...):

Be Careful Where You Leave Your Shoes

After a little bit of unpacking, we headed off to meet Tim and Andrea to talk about the trip and we ended up wandering around the grounds a little bit on the way.

Spectacled Spiderhunter:
Spectacled Spiderhunter

Gray and Buff Woodpecker:
Grey and Buff Woodpecker

We met Tim and Andrea in the restaurant and hit it off immediately.  But, the big shocker was that they were younger than us!  Usually, we are the "young pups" among the sea of older folks on all our vacations. But this time, we would need to play the role of the wise older couple.  I don't think we pulled that off though since I did at least one thing that wasn't very wise as you will soon see.

We had a couple snafus that first evening too including the resort not being notified that our meals were pre-paid and we found out the guide we requested for our time in Sepilok wasn't going to make it.  But, after a few emails to Nick at AA Borneo both items were taken care of.

In fact, a bit later Gary Albert walked up to us in the restaurant and introduced himself as our guide for the next two days in Sepilok.  He turned out to be a great guide and is highly recommended.

With all the logistics worked out we ended up having a great first dinner and I learned that Tim liked a cold beer as much as I did.  So, we took advantage of the happy hour special daily and enjoyed the famous Forest Edge ice bucket beer.   What more could you want?

BORNEO BABY!!