MALAYSIA

Borneo’s wildlife, and wandering the Malaysian mainland.

By Chad Gerber

Borneo’s wildlife, and wandering the Malaysian mainland.

Before arriving in unfamiliar countries, I find it best to keep my expectations low (easier said than done) and ready myself to depart my comfort zone. For Borneo, maybe because of its relatively small tourism industry, I didn't have the chance to form expectations. All we had on our to-do list was to visit the orangutans in their natural habitat. As for the mainland of Malaysia, it was a little harder to keep those expectations at bay.

Once on Borneo, we swiftly made way to Semenggoh Nature Reserve, where the orangutans swung in slow motion from the trees and lazed about, bellies up. The great, intelligent apes that you see in these images are some of the last left on earth; while the trip to the reserve was worth it for them alone, we were also fortunate enough to watch the staff care for an injured crocodile which they rescued from the wild. And the surprises didn't end there; travelling via boat to some of Borneo's small, neighbouring islands, to soak up the sun and enjoy the tropical waters, we were greeted by wild monkeys and Komodo dragons.

After saying goodbye to the monkeys and dragons, we returned to the mainland to explore Kuala Lumpur. Departing the comfort of sleep, we went through the predawn streets to rub noses with the Petronas Twin Towers. After the rise of the sun, we climbed the colourful Batu cave steps to the Hindu shrines located inside.

After the hustle and bustle of KL, we ventured north to the small island of Penang, where I KO'd myself with cocktails and beer. The next morning, we buried our hangovers with delicious street food and zombied down streets adorned with famous and extremely creative works of graffiti art.

You can't help but have expectations for some places, though when you come to a destination less travelled, and push yourself out of your comfort zone (even if it's just getting out of bed when you're hungover), you are bound to have an exceptional time. If we hadn't asked a few simple questions of the locals outside our hotel, we'd never have seen the dragons and monkeys. If we'd never woken up before the sun, we'd never have captured such an amazing snap of the towers at dawn. And its breaking out of your comfort zone that helps place the cherry on top of an amazing trip.

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Written by Chad Gerber, Edited by Nick Petrou