Borneo Trip Blog 2: What IS the point?

Hey look! A new blog.  And I’ll add photos when I figure out howthefuckhow.

The boys and I are going to Borneo with our friends Ben and Ramona.

My boys and Ben have been close friends since they met when they were about 4 and they started selling each other their old toys and gadgets.  Ben is the slap to my boys’ stick.  The crackle to their pop.

Ramona and I are friends because it would be absolutely freakishly impossible NOT to be friends with Ramona. She’s that kind of person.

We’re going to Borneo because we’ve never been there.

We asked our husbands if they wanted to come with us on our trip and they both said an emphatic No.  We’ll miss them, but, on the upside, we didn’t have to pay someone to water our gardens.

My boys were a little disappointed that a trip to Borneo would interfere with their ability to hold down a decent summer job.


They asked why we had to go across the world to another country, again, when we already live in a perfectly nice town. They questioned whether I ever paused to consider their wants and needs, or just my own.  I finally snapped.

“Suck it up,” I told them.

I told them that if they decide to hate me forever because I took them to see an orangutan in Borneo then they can discuss it with their therapist when they are grown up.

So we’re going.  Or actually, since I’m posting this blog late, we’re here.

Borneo itself isn’t a country; it’s the third largest island in the world and it consists of 3 countries—2 parts and a whole.  The partial countries are Malaysia and Indonesia, the whole is Brunei.

Five hundred types of animals live on Borneo that don’t live anywhere else in the world. There are eight species of hornbill birds. Orangutans. Pangolins. Pygmy elephants. Bearded pigs.  Probiscus monkeys. Cloud leopards.  Flying squirrels. Oh and also leeches pit vipers and the Asian forest scorpion.

After a few days here, our sightings are few.  The jungle noises are varied and mysterious and Tarzan soundtrack worth—honks and hollers and ticks and buzzes and spits and water droplet,  but apart from the tiny black birds skimming the top of the river, all we’ve seen are bird silhouettes.  Teases.  Unfulfilled promises.  I thought I saw a bird with a long pendulous tail, but it may have been that same guy from the river carrying a long piece of grass home to his kids.

Borneo hot and humid and buggy. We already smell. We have to eat fast before the flies finish our food. I had all my mosquito repellent and most of my sunblock confiscated by airport security because I forget to switch it from my backpack to my checked bag.  Hopefully Brunei security will donate it to charity instead of just tossing it. Ramona is sharing their stash with us.

Borneo is muddy because when it rains, it doesn’t mess around with drizzle.  Somehow Toby only brought one pair of shoes and we looked at the market today and we couldn’t find size 13 flip flops at the market.  Vendors thought we were joking. He’s wearing his tennis shoes with thick white sweat socks that we will definitely toss before heading home.

Borneo is sticky. I just washed off the sweat and grime and heat of today in a glorious moonlit shower.  We can open our bathroom door and if we keep walking past the sink and toilet we get to a small enclosed veranda.  In the center there’s a tree with a hose snaking up it that ends in a rainfall shower head. There’s no hot water but we don’t need it.

Borneo is far far far away from home. Today we completed our 6th plane journey in 5 days. We spent two hours waiting in 4 different lines in a crowded airport. We dragged our suitcases all over the airport.  We didn’t know what was going to happen next.  We weren’t sure where to go.  We asked a lot of questions of a lot of different people.  We didn’t know if we’d make our plane.

But then we did and soon we forgot how rumpus the whole airport experience had been mostly because we’re excited that tomorrow is the first day in many days that we won’t be getting on an airplane.

We landed and were met by a small man holding a sign that said KRISTIE TOMWELL.  He led us to two white taxis and two men with a mouthful of teeth to share between them.  Our driver was silent for the 20 minute drive.  And silent as he drove PAST the hotel to the driveway on the dirt road.

We stopped and I said “I don’t think this is the right hotel”.  We asked a lot of questions and compared a lot of itineraries and text messages and phone calls and hotel reservation logs and it turned out that we were at the right hotel after all.  Our taxi driver was proud.  He shook hands all around.  We tipped him.  We didn’t know what the hell had just transpired.

That’s the whole point, right?


3 Replies to “Borneo Trip Blog 2: What IS the point?”

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