Escape into an Asian Paradise

Have you heard of a Penanggalan? A Langsuir? A Toyol? Probably not, I guess. I know what you must be thinking – exotic dishes of a foreign land, eh? Isn't that what anything sounding weird usually turns out to be, especially in travel posts. I am sorry to disappoint you, my dear reader – these are just the opposite of what you are thinking of – they are not the ones whose sight will make your mouth water. On the contrary, the sight of you will make their mouth water. For these are malicious beings, from Malay local folklore, that love to feast on human blood. Then we have headhunters. No, these are not the cute girls and aunties who contact you on Linked in with opportunities from the world’s leading banks and IT companies. These headhunters are the dreaded Dayak and Dusun tribes who wouldn't flinch to detach your head from your body and take home to their warlord as a trophy. Few years back I read a nice adventure book having all these elements. It was a refreshing change from Tolkien's elves and dwarves or Stephanie Meyer's vampires and werewolves. Ever since I have read that book, I have somehow developed a fascination for the Eastern part of Malaysia – the states of Sarawak and Sabah on the Borneo Island. I know this may sound as stupid as someone saying they want to visit India because they are fascinated with the idea of snake charmers and Fakirs sleeping on beds of nails or visit Germany due to their fascination with the legends of little folk of the Black Forest. But that is how I am and these kinds of things add a magical aura to a place.

I did get an opportunity to visit Malaysia a couple of years back but my trip was confined to Western parts – Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. While I really enjoyed the visit to the bird park in Kuala Lumpur and the boat ride along the mangrove jungles of Langkawi, I came to know these attractions were rather tame compared to what Sabah and Sarawak had to offer. That reignited my old desire to visit these regions. However I have somehow not liked planning trips – I find it more fun when they just happen. I like to see myself more as an explorer or an adventurer rather than a tourist. But I guess unless one works for National Geographic, such opportunities may not come one’s way. So the best option is possibly a vacation trip only and to let one’s imagination to do the rest. When doing a vacation trip, definitely at least some high level planning is required. So I began to give a thought to identify at least 5 things I may like to do in Eastern Malaysia.

Given that my initial fascination for Malaysia began with fascination for local tribal traditions and folklore, I would definitely like to know more of the local culture right from the horse’s mouth. The living cultural museum – Sarawak Cultural Village would be a good place to indulge my fascination. Who knows? It may give me material to write the next Lord of the Rings.

During my days as a software engineer I have been an avid trekking enthusiast. I have somehow been drifting away from this passion of mine the last few years. What better place to rediscover my lost love than Borneo’s largest peak – Kinabulu Park. Trekking in the Amazons has always been one of my dreams. Though Amazons are romanticized more, I guess the experience here would be more or less the same as trekking through Amazon’s rain forests - maybe lesser in terms of danger quotient though.

As I mentioned earlier, I loved the boat trip along mangrove forests in Langkawi but was disappointed at not sighting too many animals. From what I have seen in reviews, a river trip along Kinabatangan River would not disappoint in this area. An opportunity to see exotic species such as proboscis monkeys, Asian Elephant and Sumatran Rhinos does indeed sound promising. And of course the species that can be found only in this region: Orangutans. They are a fascinating species: an intelligent species introduced to me by my mother in my childhood in the context of similarity in facial expression between me and these primates. The Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary and rehabilitation center would be an interesting place for a closer study of these nesting monkeys. Yes. That is right. Nesting monkeys! Contrary to popular beliefs that monkeys know only to destroy nests, there are monkeys that build nests too.

I have heard it said the beauty of nature under oceans surpasses that on land. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park with its opportunities for good snorkeling seems like an ideal place to grab a glimpse of what lies beneath.

I do hope I get an opportunity some day to savor these bounties of nature generously offered by the island of Borneo.

I am participating in the MalaysiaJao Blogathon Contest in association with BlogAdda.com.
All pictures used have been tagged free to use or share by Google. Find below credits for the same.
Tribals;  RafflesiaOrangutan

27 comments:

Seeta said...

That was informative for me. I think we have romanticized a lot about western nature trails but rarely know much about what Asia has to offer.
On that, maybe you would like a trek on Machu Picchu mountain.... the Inca tribe originates here.... that's incentive enough right? Prisoners of the Sun remember? :)

The Fool said...

Manchu Picchu has always been my dream, Seeta. (You are Tintin fan too, eh?)But don't think it may happen. Latin America is way too expensive and not too sure about the safety. Malaysia is always a better bet.

Seeta said...

I know, its been on my travel list too and unfortunately way to out of the reach as you put it. As far as safety goes, I know a few folks who did it and had good things to say...
Yup, a huge Tintin and Asterix fan too :)

Anita said...

Yay! Point in common! Even I love Tintin & Asterix :)

Anita said...

You are a nature-lover, Karthik & you are well-travelled too!
Informative Post!
Best wishes for the contest.

The Fool said...

Thanks Anita. Got to travel a bit thanks to my job and education. And yes, do love eco travel.

Rachna said...

That was a nice travel post from you, Karthik! I remember liking a few that you've written in the past as well. Malaysia has been on my radar for quite some time. Let us see when it materializes. Good luck for the contest.

The Fool said...

Thanks Rachna. Maybe I should do more of them. You must plan to visit Malaysia. It is an amazing country and not too expensive either.

DS said...

Good to see you go on full blast at these contests!!

I just hope that they wont send the winners on a Malaysian Airlines plane though!!

The Fool said...

Good to see you back on my blog also, DS. Malaysian Airlines should be fun if they put us in touch with aliens.

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Billions of blistering blue barnacles! Now I am more of a fan of Obelix - since I approach him in size if not in strength :) - and Captain Haddock whose liquid diet appeals to me :)

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

If you disappear from Social media for a few days, I shall hunt for your head in Malaysia TF :)

The Fool said...

Maybe after the white Rajah, I might become the brown Rajah of the place.

DS said...

Won't be much fun from what I see!! At least for us poor souls who will be baffled by the mystery forever!

umashankar said...

This one opened with a splash of your favourite elements but the title had betrayed your destination already. Capably written and may it sail you clear of Langsuir and Toyols!

The Fool said...

True Umashankar. Somehow was not inventive enough in choice of title. Glad you found it capably written.

jaish_vats said...

When u work in Malaysia, the visa only covers West Malaysia. One needs to get a separate visa to visit Sabah and Sarawak. I think the same would be the case for tourist visas

The Fool said...

Think so, Jaish. That is one of the reason they have been able to maintain this region pristine - by preventing rush of tourists.

Seeta said...

Suresh! Where is your Menhir!! :D

Deguide said...

Brilliant penning of travelogue, i am sure you vvill vvin this contenst and get to explore more destinations abroad. Good luck LF !

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Mr. Umesh.

Purba said...

Liked that you chose to focus on the less visited parts of Malayasia instead of the usual KL,Penang and Langkawi.

All the best for the contest. Hope to see you win.

The Fool said...

Thanks Purba. These places happened to be ones I actually wanted to visit. Often contests have you writing about places you have no intention ever of visiting.

Arvind Passey said...

Aha! The post has it's special TF flavour for sure. All the best for the contest... :)

Arvind Passey
www.passey.info
http://passey.info/2014/03/intellectual-seduction-needs-repeat-visits/

The Fool said...

Thanks, Mr. Passey. Tried my best to avoid writing a drab factual post.

ilakshee said...

A very interesting introduction to the post. Folklore does lend a charm to places. Wishing you the very best!

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, ilakshee.

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