Thursday, March 11, 2010

Malaysian Borneo

At the moment we are in northern Malaysian Borneo and will fly to Cambodia in a few days. Borneo has been a bit of a disappointment, though much cleaner and "advanced" than Indonesia they are not at all clued into independent tourists. Most tourists that come through are part of tour groups and the whole system is designed around that. So they look at you stupidly and tell you everything has been booked out by the tour groups. We did spend a few days at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Sanctuary, which was great but other things to see are few and far between. Alot of that has to do with the fact that at least 75 % of the territory is covered in Palm Oil Plantations, which is very, very sad...

We rented a motorbike to travel independently across the state of Sabah. Very much Motorcycle Diaries, but with a better bike. And in the film they dont talk about how painful it is to sit perfectly still on the back of a bike for 8 hours :%. And though this young entropenuer ( much better than the one on Lombok) has a great idea to get travelers to be more independent, he is way ahead of the rest of the country which doesnt really like free movers and thinkers.

And a moment on religion: On Lombok there are huge ornate, glass windowed, tiled mosques every 2 kms in every tiny village between the rice paddies that are still tilled by water buffalo by individuals who will likely starve if one crop fails. Glass windowed mosques dont feed people. Here in Borneo there are catholic churches like there are McDonalds in the US one every 1/2 km. Yet the poverty of those not profiting from Oil and palm oil is close to that on Lombok and the AIDS rate is high. I am silently angry.

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