Hello from northern Borneo!

Saturday, July 3, 2004
After the peacefulness of Brunei it was nice to arrive in bustling Sabah, the northern part Borneo. After spending a night in the capital, the first thing we did was take an overnight bus to Semporna. Our bus arrived at five in the morning - just as the sun was rising. And, lucky for us, we were staying in a stilt village resort hovering right over the water and the view was spectacular! I'm not really into sunrises or sunsets all that much, but wow! That one was amazing. It even came close to making up for the complete lack of sleep that night. The bus followed the road along the Indonesian border, so every hour or so police would come on the bus demanding passports, and being the only foreigners aboard we usually got harassed first.

Then we went to Sipadan Island. It takes 10 minutes to walk entirely around it (without your shoes on) and it is gorgeous. It's also known as one of the best scuba diving spots in the world due to the 600 meter wall that drops off the island 25 feet off shore. What that actually means is that it goes from white and sandy straight to black and inky! It is basically an underwater cliff. It also means that even as a snorkeller (like me) you can swim around and see tons of fish. Big, huge, colorful fish everywhere you look. There is also a turtle hatchery. Almost every evening or morning turtles are hatched and released into the ocean. As you are sitting at breakfast, someone will come by and say, turtles, 5 minutes!! That is when the turtle race begins. You have probably seen it on television - turtle moms lay eggs and bury them in the sand, swim away and are never seen again. So, when the turtles hatch out of their eggs, they are born knowing that they need to bolt into the ocean as soon as possible. Normally, many turtles are killed by birds and other predators on their way into the water, but with the hatchery most make it into the ocean alive and well... and now there are tons of huge ones!

We even climbed Mt. Kinabalu. Finally, we climbed a volcano! It was our third attempt, and like they say, the third time is the charm. Anyway, the rest of the trip through Borneo was pretty fun, and now we are in Japan. I wrote this newsletter and then kinda forgot to send it! We have been in Japan about a week now, so more to come soon. It is fantastic here!


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