Monthly Archives: January 2008

Welcome to the Jungle

Posted by on January 6, 2008

Greetings from the jungles of Borneo. Literally. I’m on a satellite internet connection in the Royal Mulu Resort in Mulu National Park.

This been one helluva experience so far. Today I went honest to goodness spelunking. Hard hat with a light on it and everything. Tomorrow I’m off to walk in the rainforest treetops 30 up in the canopy and watch a million bats fly past me at night.

I didn’t even know this place existed two weeks ago. So far it has been one of the highlights of the trip.

I don’t have time for much else, becuase this is an expensive internet connection and they are shutting things down here. I think I’m going to have a Yakushima type suprise for everyone when I get my photos processed from Mulu.

Sarawak 2

Posted by on January 4, 2008

I had to come into town to book my ticket to Mulu National Park. I still need to book a bed, but that shouldn’t be a problem. The New Year rush has died down and I’m willing to sleep anywhere.

The place I’m staying outside of Miri is very nice. My room is inside a Malaysian long house which sits up on stilts over a pond. We had a torrential downpour yesterday afternoon. I haven’t seen a thunderstom like that since I’ve started my trip. It ranined all night long and with the drops hitting the tin roof of the building, I slept like a log.

I have also been able to meet up with some other travelers finally. I hardly met anyone in Hong Kong given the nature of my accomodations.

Borneo really reminds me of many of the islands I visited in the Pacific….. which makes sense because it is an Island in the Pacific. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say in the next few days as I actually get into the bush and see the rainforest close up.

I have read that Mulu has a satellite internet connection, but I am not making any plans around it. I should have a good connection when I get to Kota Kinabalu. I’ll have a ton of Mulu photos I’m sure as well as everything from Brunei.

Sarawak

Posted by on January 2, 2008

I am in Miri, Malaysia. The trip from Bandar Seri Begwan took about five hours to travel maybe 50 miles. I had to transfer onto five different buses and take a small boat across a river.

It is very obvious the reliance Brunei has on oil once you get out of the capital. There is evidence of Shell Oil everywhere.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Malaysia, at least East Malaysia. I really only ever hear about Kuala Lumpur. I sort of thought it would be less developed than Brunei considering that the per capita GDP is about half. Statistics lie. If anything it is more developed. At least what I’ve seen with my eyes from the bus in the hour I’ve been here so far.

I’m off to the Tree Top Lodge on the beach for two nights, then I’m flying into Mulu National Park. (you have to fly into Mulu. There are no roads.)

I’m guessing my time online will be very limited the next few days.

What I learned in 2007

Posted by on January 1, 2008

See it is the thing to do at the New Year, here is a list of things I’ve learned in 2007:

  • Kit Kat is the most popular candy bar in the world. It is everywhere. Moreover, I’ve seen it in all sorts of different flavors. I’ve seen green tea, cherry, white chocolate and dark chocolate. You can also get them in tons of different shapes and sizes. Many American candy brands are almost never seen outside of the US.
  • Pringles is the most popular snack food in the world. I’ve seen Pringles everywhere, too. I think it is the packaging. I’ve seen rip off Pringles in some countries. The flavor of Pringles you will find include seaweed, gourmet cheese, and shrimp. I know there are other flavors I can’t think of off the top of my head.
  • I don’t think I will ever watch the domestic version of a cable news channel every again. I never liked Fox, MSNBC or CNN because of their constant coverage of show trials and celebrity news. CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera English keep it to basic news. Same with news websites. If you use CNN.com, just click to get to the International edition and you will get most of the irrelevant news filtered out. Remember when you hear about world leaders watching CNN, they are not watching the same version you are watching. (Believe it or not, Al Jazerra English is probably the best news channel.)
  • Always carry a pen when on an international flights. You will have to fill out immigration and customs forms, so have it handy. Don’t expect the flight attendants to have extra pens.
  • There will come a day when an Asian pop star makes it big in North America. I’ve seen videos, concerts and award shows with some very polished and talented singers. It is a matter of time before one makes the cross over and becomes big in the US and becomes the first big Asian music mega star. There is potential for Madonna size fame. J-pop (Japanese) and K-pop (Korean) will often have separate sections in record stores I visit. I also predict it will be a very attractive female that makes the jump. (Keep an eye on 15 year old Charice Pempengco from the Philippines. She is getting attention from a video she put on YouTube and was recently on the Ellen DeGeneris show)
  • I haven’t even been to China proper yet, but I can already tell that the Chinese are coming. It isn’t just the size of the population either. There is an enormous amount of enterprise and talent that will be unleashed on the world. This is not a bad thing. A large Chinese economy will make the world economy much more stable. Even places like Laos and Nigeria are seeing material improvement from cheap Chinese goods. The Chinese are also leading the way to investing in Africa which will bring North Americans and Europeans in, if for no other reason than to avoid being left in the cold. I’m very much looking to be able to compare China and India first hand.
  • Everyone is proud of where they are from.
  • More Pacific countries need to think out of the box. Their most valuable resource is their sovereignty and few of them take advantage of it. You don’t see many which take advantage of flags of convenience, liberal banking laws, or doing something like tying their currency to gold.
  • Fiji would be wise, when they get rid of the current coup, to totally eliminate their standing army. It has caused them nothing but trouble. Likewise, the UN should cease using Fijian troops in UN Peacekeeping efforts.
  • The worst thing the British have ever done was to spread their system of numbering floors in buildings. In the British system, the second floor is the “first” floor. The first floor being the “ground” floor. If the ground floor is indeed a “floor” then it must be the first floor, and the “first floor” must be the second floor. If the ground floor is not the first floor, then it is not a floor at all and cannot be the “ground floor”. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been confused trying to find something on the “second floor” which is actually the third floor. This beats out the roundabout and the enormous British style electrical plugs.