the mossy forest in Bahau Hulu, East Kalimantan, Indonesia small creek in the Bahau Hulu forest, East Kalimantan, Indonesia flower on Kakaban Island, East Kalimantan, Indonesia baby turtles on Sangalaki Island, East Kalimantan, Indonesia fisherman with a lobster on Derawan Island, East Kalimantan, Indonesia children playing on the beach of Derawan Island, East Kalimantan, Indonesia sunset over Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia catching fish from the Bahau River, East Kalimantan, Indonesia cooking coffee in the Bahau Hulu rainforest, East Kalimantan, Indonesia winding river from the air, East Kalimantan, Indonesia sandy beach on Derawan Island, East Kalimantan, Indonesia kids playing football on Derawan Island, East Kalimantan, Indonesia sea turtle on Derawan Island, East Kalimantan, Indonesia proboscis monkeys in Tarakan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia Borneo sunset in Sabah, Malaysia pier on Manukan Island, Sabah, Malaysia rainforest at the Kayan River, East Kalimantan, Indonesia butterflies at the Kayan River, East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Monday, 18 April 2011
Location: Budapest, Hungary

Back at Home

children playing football on tiny Derawan Island off the coast of Borneo
children playing football on tiny
Derawan Island off the coast of
Borneo

We've been away for one day less than a month and the first time we read the the news was yesterday in Hong Kong because we had WiFi and plenty of time in our room. The headlines were the same as when we left: leaking power plant in Japan, pension issues, falling currency, and protesting firefighters at home, missiles in Libya, natural disasters all over the world, and the preparations for Prince Williams' wedding.

There is still no sound option of public transport at Ferihegy Airport (like one similar to Hong Kong's 23-minute Airport Express), but only queuing in the traffic jam of Pest in the overpriced taxi while listening to the occasional siren.

In the taxi you start to think about work, things to do, people to call, bills to pay. Arriving home a bunch of letters awaits. Well, we could do without these.

Sunday, 17 April 2011
Location: Hong Kong, China

At the End of Our Journey

the village of Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island
the village of Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island

We spend our last moments in Hong Kong. Just to remind us we travelled to the tropics, we had a last big downpour today.

The city is superb, one of the best things about it is that we could check in for our midnight flight in the morning in the city, and our luggage was taken by an express train to the airport. We followed them only later.

This made it easy for us to make a sightseeing trip today, but we checked in our raincoats as well...

Never mind, after the storm we ate lobster in a fishing village (yes, there are things like that in the big Hong Hong), being as wet as if we had just jumped into the waters of Victoria Harbour. It wasn't too bad in the 28 degrees Celsius, anyway.

As we know it will be 2 degrees in Helsinki when we change flights at dawn, but luckily we only have to watch it through the windows. On our flight here it was still snowy.

On Monday morning we'll be in Budapest, and that concludes our journey this year, which has been the most advanturous so far.

Friday, 15 April 2011
Location: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Last Day on Borneo

Borneo sunset
Borneo sunset

We are leaving for Hong Kong in the afternoon, flying all across the South China Sea. Yes, this means we could get out of Indonesia and we are back in Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah, Malaysia.

When we arrived, it was raining again, just like it was a month ago when we left. Then the sky cleared out by the evening and Borneo said good bye with an amazing sunset.

We'll spend the whole Sunday in Hong Kong and we'll go home on Monday.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Location: Nunukan Island, East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Stuck in Indonesia

warnet, netcafe in Indonesia
warnet, netcafe in Indonesia

Yes, we're still in Indonesia, although we should already be in Malaysia. The thing is that the supposed ferry didn't go this morning, so we are stuck here as for now...

I started asking about the ferry already a week ago, even before leaving for Derawan, so as to know how to time our return, because here you sometimes have to count days for a few hundred kilometres' trip. They said the engine was sometimes wrong, so I should call ahead from Derawan. Eventually we decided to come back to Tarakan a day earlier instead, just to be on the safe side. If they can't reassure us, we'd better leave for Malaysia a day earlier, even though we didn't particularly like the town of Tawau.

So we casually walked into the ticket office. Since in this part of Indonesia nobody really speaks English (or any other European language), we didn't really understand what they said, but we got our tickets (and they took its price) quickly. The ferry was to leave at 10 am today...

Well it didn't.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Location: Tarakan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Derawan Island

beach on Derawan
beach on Derawan

Actually we are in Tarakan again but it doesn't make a difference. In fact Tarakan was the only place in all our Indonesian travels where we could find Internet - and yes, in Long Bawan where it had been running for 5 days already when we arrived. This is hard to believe from Europe. I am personally happy that there are still hidden places like this on earth, and especially that we could find it.

We spent the past days in another amazing place, amazing for a different reason. We soon managed to get out of the heart of Borneo with the help of an American Cessna pilot. This was the most beautiful flight in my life. Long Bawan is situated above 1000 metres, surrounded by mountains fully covered by intact rainforests. The flight took an hour, mostly above continuous forest which is only interrupted by rivers and a few villages. I was stuck to the window of the small Cessna that flew only a few hundred metres above the forest. Seeing it made me feel so good. By the way we call this uninterrupted tropical canopy broccoli because that's what it's like from above.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Location: Nunukan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Out of the jungle

great survivors
great survivors

We are creating history. And we are being photographed. The reason is that in Long Bawan, in the heart of Borneo they have internet since the 1st of April and we are the first foreigners to use it. Hurrah!

Now, this is a summary of our jungle trek.

First the impotrant thing: we got out of the forest. I mean we got into its deepest pocket. The WWF coleague, Pak Ishak helped us a lot but unfortunately he spoke very little English - luckily we did speak some Indonesian. The trip on the river took 4 days instead of the initially planned 2, we went as far upriver as the rapids made it possible. Even so, in the end we carried the boat more than what the boat transported us... Anyway, the deeper we got into Borneo the slower it became to move forward - and the more expensive. This is because the fuel has to be taken also from where we came, from Tanjung Selor, at 4 days' distance by longboat.

In the Heart of Borneo

small Cessna landing
small Cessna landing in Long Layu

In Long Layu, where we spent our first night after the forest, surprisingly many spoke some English. (This means 2-3 people). We didn't understand this because they said there'd been only 2 tourists there in recent times - us :))

We liked this village, too. Everyone was happy, people went to their neighbours to have a chat, all the children ran and played together. The village of 600 people had 3 football fields, 1 volleyball court, all full of children. Men cut the grass together around the houses. The smallest children, too little for playing, gathered the cut grass in stacks and burnt it. Then they went down to the river for a swim, and went home for dinner at sunset. There was no internet or mobile network, and only a few TV's.