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Iban Wedding, Borneo, Malaysia

I created a separate page for Borneo because it differs from peninsular Malaysia. 

Borneo has many indigenous tribes, such as the Iban, Dayak, Kayan, and Bidayuh. In the old days, the Ibans and Dayak hunted for human heads. 

I attended my first Iban wedding, where I discovered the tribes are prolific drinkers. Although I just had walked through the door, everyone wanted to do shots with the white guy. I drank over 10 shots. Some men had scotch and whisky, but the drink of choice was homemade rice wine. Although the wine had a decent taste, I experienced quite a hangover the next day. 

Towards the end of the wedding, the tribe formed a small circle with a ritual ceremony bowl in the center. The men collected things from the ceremony bowl and placed them on the plates in front of them. Subsequently, the tribe chief chanted many words while holding a chicken. He moved the chicken in a circle to emphasize his words. Unfortunately, the chicken did not make it. Someone took the chicken outside with a large knife and returned with feathers. The people around the circle added feathers to their plates.

Borneo, Malaysia

  • Area of the country spans 287,000 square miles, making Borneo the third largest island in the world.
  • Borneo encompasses three countries: Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
  • In 2010, the population was estimated at 19.8 million and most people and cities are located on the coasts.
  • Borneo has 140 million-year-old rainforests filled with 15,000 forms of flowers, 3,000 species of trees, 420 types of birds, and 221 species of animals.
  • Borneo possesses vast wealth with petroleum and natural gas deposits along the coasts and forest filled with timber.

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu is a popular tourist destination. Tourists come to Kota Kinabalu to climb Mount Kinabalu, scuba dive along the coral reefs, hop from island to island, shop in the numerous malls and markets, or enjoy Malay and Chinese spicy food.

Although I experienced no problems walking around downtown even at night. Kota Kinabalu has no shortage of shady people wandering along the streets at night.

Kuching, Malaysia

Kuching is the largest city in the Malaysia Borneo and the state capital of Sarawak with more than 600,000 residents inhabiting the city. Residents refer to Kuching as the City of Cats because many believe the name Kuching was derived from the Malay word cat.

The city retains its historic buildings downtown, and the people are quite friendly. Pedestrians and tourists can stroll along the many sidewalks in the historic city center. They have many shops and small stores to shop, or they stop for a bite to eat at the many restaurants. I found a traditional Chinese herbal store and stocked up on lingzhi, wolfberries, and Cordyceps. 

The only drawback is Kuching is about an hour drive away to the shores of the South China Sea. However, I strolled along the riverfront park and sat on a park bench watching the sunset. Borneo has some of the most incredible, colorful sunsets. The setting sun fills the skies with bright, luminous colors.

Kuching is the only place to cross into Indonesia. Thus, I rode a bus from Kuching to see the Indonesian side of Borneo.

Labuan, Federal Territory of Malaysia

A tiny island located between Brunei and Kota Kinabalu. The Malaysian government is developing the island, and it grants numerous tax advantages. The government does not impose taxes on liquor, alcohol, chocolates, and cigarettes. Tourists flock there to buy cheap booze and cigarettes. People can open bank accounts with numbered accounts. 

Smugglers head to Labuan. They buy quantities of alcohol for low prices and smuggle the products to cities across Malaysia, avoiding the $10 USD duty on every bottle of booze and wine. 

Labuan's tourist industry remains underdeveloped. Hotels were expensive and charged tourists excessive rates. For example, I overpaid to stay at a budget hotel and stayed in a disgusting room. The bathroom had no hot water; the room required numerous repairs, and I kept the light on at night, so the cockroaches crawled in the shadows. 

Miri, Malaysia

I have little to say about Miri except I live here. Miri is a small prison without any walls. For me to visit the neighboring cities, I would have to drive for hours.

Miri is a small community and is the capital of Malaysia's petroleum and natural gas industry. Many oil rigs scatter along the coast on the South China Sea.

One drawback, the city never integrated the shoreline with the downtown. Miri has few sidewalks along the shore of the South China Sea.

However, I should be lucky the city has a McDonald's, Starbucks, and Sushi King. I also boosted my research level, and I draw and write more. Furthermore, Miri has excellent dive sites, where I learned to scuba dive.

Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu towers at 4,095 meters or 13,435 feet above sea level and is the tallest mountain in Malaysia.

The climbing path is well developed, and I describe it as the eternal staircase to the heavens. Although I regularly jog, my body was not prepared for the climb. Walking up and down stairs uses different muscles than jogging on a level surface.

The government and tour agencies require climbers to stay at the hostel overnight at 3,350 meters or 11,000 feet. The overnight stay helps acclimate climbers to the thin air and lets them rest for the final climb to the summit. Of course, they feed the climbers well at the hostel with an all-you-can-eat buffet.

They awaken the climbers at 4 o'clock in the morning for the final trek up the mountain. Unfortunately, I did not reach the summit. Once I had made it to the check-in station, the wind started howling and blowing while the icy rain pelted the ground. At this height, the granite mountain becomes quite slippery when wet. The officials closed the mountain, and hence, I received the black-and-white achievement certificate. If a climber makes it to the top, then they earn a color certificate of achievement.

After my two-day hike, I was sore for two weeks. Next time, I will train by jogging up and down staircases to prepare myself for the long climb.

Mulu National Park

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Niah National Park, Malaysia

Niah National Park is located between Miri and Bintulu, about 110 kilometers from Miri.

It is a neat park. We walked along the path that winds through the forest. Then we walked through a network of caves and jungles.

The largest cave, The Great Cave, snakes through a mountain. Some parts, the cave narrows and darkness floods every crevice.

After the Great Cave, we trek through the forest and to reach the last cave, Painted Cave, and view the cavemen's drawings. Unfortunately, most the paint has flaked away from the cave wall because the tourists were touching the paint. 

Sapi Island, Malaysia

Sapi Island is one of the many islands tourist can visit while staying in Kota Kinabalu. The island has several restaurants and well-developed swimming and boating areas. Some tourists learn to scuba dive.

Wild boars steal travelers' water bottles and food as the tourists swim in the sea while Komodo dragons freely wander around the island scampering for food. The dragons can be dangerous. A large Komodo dragon was blocking the entrance to the scuba diving storage room. I tried to shoo him away, but he whipped me hard across my chest with his tail. It stung for a while although I was wearing a thick dive suit.

The scuba diving was excellent. I saw a giant turtle and crocodile fish. After leaving the island, I saw a water sprout dance across the water. By the time I retrieved my camera, the water spout had disappeared.