Japan

At the end of September 2009, we spent 10 days in Japan. A few days were spent exploring the bustling neighborhoods around Tokyo and eating lots of yummy local cuisine. Then a bullet train ride brought us to the old capital Kyoto filled temples and historic buildings. A day trip to Hiroshima allowed us to see the Peace Memorial and Miyashima Island with the temple in the sea.

Malaysia

For 3 weeks in September 2009, we stayed with relatives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, we took 2 short trips to the island of Borneo to see orangutans & rafflesia flower in the rainforest jungles and also to the east coast of the peninsula, known for its sandy beaches, seaside resorts, and leatherback turtles.

Borneo

We spent 3 days spent on the island of Borneo, east Malaysia in Sabah State, known for its rainforests and wildlife. We first flew into the small town of Sandakan to see organgutans & proboscis or long-nosed monkeys. Orangutans are native to Borneo and Sumatra. We visited a rehabilitation center where wild orangutans live in a protected rainforest with a diet supplemented by fruits from the institution. There was also a memorial to the scores of Australian & British soldiers killed in the Death Marches under Japanese occupation during WWII.

Then, we went on to the town of Kota Kinabalu at the base of Mt Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest mountain. We took a 30m high canopy walk near Poring Hot Springs and saw all the different species of wild orchids at Kinabalu National Park. The highlight was to see the rare, giant 80cm Rafflesia flower in the wild! Rafflesias are the world’s largest flower with a odor of rotting flesh to attract flies, its pollinator. It takes around a year for the bud to bloom and the flower only lasts a few days.