Destination Borneo, Malaysia

The very name conjures up images of dense jungles, head hunting tribesman, and venomous species at every turn. Once this would have been the case, but sadly one of the world’s most important rainforests is all but gone.

Borneo is one of the world’s largest islands. It is home to three different countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. It has countless endemic species found nowhere else on earth, ubiquitously highly endangered or on the brink of extinction. Borneo’s riches in biodiversity are matched by its profitable natural resources. Each day vast tracks of Borneo’s forests are cleared, usually illegally. The timber is sold and replaced by palm oil plantations. Borneo is home to a staggering number of millionaires, drastically more than anywhere else in Southeast Asia, so today you are more likely to stumble upon a golf course than you are to a tribe of head hunters.

We came to Borneo for one reason – to dive Pulau Sipadan. Long heralded as the best tropical diving in the world. Sipadan is very popular. The island is limited to 120 divers a day and permits are strictly enforced. This means two things. First, we had to book far ahead, something we avoid like the plague. Second, diving Sipadan is an expensive endeavor.

Still flush with our earnings in Australia we were finally willing to give Sipadan a go. After that we figured on having a romp through the jungle. Not to forget, any trip to Malaysia must include the incredible fusion of Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Indonesian cooking styles that is Malay cuisine.

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Scott Dusek is a writer and photography originally from Seattle, Washingon.

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