Hi! Funny enough, that’s hello in Malay. In case, like me, you know almost nothing about Malaysian Borneo, let me fill you in on what I learned this past month.
Borneo is an island which contains three countries: Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia. On Borneo there are two Malaysian states, Sarawak, where we stayed for the majority of our time, and Sabah. These two states are practically treated like separate countries, and Sarawak is the only Christian state in Malaysia, which is a predominantly Muslim country. The island is known for its vast rain forests, which are unfortunately mostly gone now, due to logging. Borneo is also one of the most biodiverse places on earth, which is why a UPS biology professor came over with us to study biodiversity.
We started our trip in Kuching, which is the capital of Sarawak. The first morning we had class at the rooftop bar of our hostel, and then wandered over to a series of museums nearby. Most of our classes in the city consisted of a guest lecture by either NGO representatives or museum workers, which was pretty cool. Our time was nicely divided up between class and free time, so we all got to explore the city.
Kuching is a very pretty city, with trees all around, and a river that runs through the center. One of the first things we noticed is that there’s stray cats everywhere. As it turns out, Kuching is the Malay word for cat, and we were literally staying in Cat City.This should have been obvious, since every souvenir has a cat on it, and there are creepy cat statues everywhere.
Most of what I did while in Kuching, besides schoolwork, was shopping, since we were all worried our clothes wouldn’t be appropriate for manual labor in the jungle. I wasn’t too worried, but I’ll take any excuse to shop.
We only spent four days in Kuching before leaving for Matang National Park, where we spent two weeks doing service work. I’ll write that post soon, but for now, here are some more pictures from Kuching. I wish I had more to say, but since I took so long to write this, I’m afraid a lot of the details escape me. Our main project for the biodiversity class was to keep a journal, but I wrote more about class, and not in real detail until we left Kuching. I’ll be sure to keep more current for the next place.