Borneo and Rainforest Lodge

Old Feb 15th, 2011, 11:24 PM
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Borneo and Rainforest Lodge

We just returned from Borneo and a stay at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. I must say it was quite an experience. The lodge itself was beautiful and the service incredibly good. Hot showers, great food, beautiful surroundings. We were not aware that this is monsoon season, and being a rainforest, does rain ALOT! It was an eye opening experience being in the rainforest and seeing the amount of land cleared for palm plantations in Borneo. The canopy walks and seeing animals in their natural habitat was a thrill but would have been much more enjoyable had the weather been clear.

It is not a trip for everyone. Hiking in the mud in a humid rainforest in the pouring rain is not real pleasant and a warning that leeches come out in the rain and do find their way to your body. Good thing was, we didn't see a single mosquito! We are avid hikers and backpackers and found it a bit trying. The lodge provides a guide for every 4 people. The schedule is:
Welcome, lunch, afternoon walk, rest, dinner, night drive
Early morning walk, breakfast, nature walk, lunch, rest, walk, dinner, night walk
breakfast, morning walk, pack up, lunch, depart
Their schedule includes a set number of walks, night drive and night walk. We backed out of 2 walks after getting soaked twice on the second day. It is difficult to see the monkeys and orangutans on your own and the guides do a great job of finding them, but like us, they don't like to come out in the rain. So be prepared that the experience can
vary depending on conditions. If you are interested, I have a detailed blog and photos at:

http://talkingchin.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html
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Old Feb 16th, 2011, 05:51 AM
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I'm glad you had a good time at the BRL. We didn't get nearly the rain you did!

I'll look at your photos when I have a break today.
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Old Feb 16th, 2011, 10:24 AM
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Thanks for your report. We will be there in late March and I am hoping it won't be as wet as your experience, but realize that anything can happen. What shoes did you wear and do you have any opinion regarding which would work best? Other than leech socks and insect repellent, any tips on things we should have on hand? On my way now to look at your blog.
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Old Feb 16th, 2011, 10:50 AM
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Ichin- just read you blog and it was very interesting. Some mundane questions, though.
Where was the best place to do your leech hunting...in the shower or out on your balcony, or elsewhere?
I assume with all the rain that your clothes did not dry well. Suggestions for a 3 night stay as to how best to deal with that?
We are planning to go to Mulu and you said it takes more than a day to get there. Can you tell me more?
Thanks.
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Old Feb 16th, 2011, 11:09 AM
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Loved your blog and your photos! It took me back there.

We were there in November, and only had one real downpour - while we sat in the lodge sipping Laphroig with an English naturalist and an Scottish botanist. We hiked in the mist, but not in real rain.
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Old Feb 17th, 2011, 01:43 AM
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So sorry about the weather. DH and I had a trip planned to BRL for this past week but had to cancel because of a change in our work schedule. We hope to go some other time (now I'll try to arrange it during the dry season). How was the rest of your trip to Borneo?
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Old Feb 17th, 2011, 04:57 AM
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Ichin' read your blog and was sp happy that you had that great orangutan sighting as you were leaving. What a nice ending after all that rain. Sorry to hear about the rain. They told us when we were there Jan.20 to 25 that it waa just the beginning of rainy season. We had 2 whole nice days and one with some rain. Felt like we lucked out. But whatever the weather, it's a beautiful place!
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Old Feb 17th, 2011, 10:52 PM
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Answering some of the questions -
We had backpacking boots and they worked well. We waterproofed them before we went. Hiking socks were good but impossible to dry for the next day; take several pairs in case they get wet. Some people had gym shoes - not good as they got soaked and were slippery in the mud, especially when hiking in the woods through paths with tree branches and rocks. Hiking on the dirt road is not too difficult. The guides had those Malaysian shoes but our guide said they have good traction but your feet get very wet since they are very low cut.

We didn't need our insect repellent though we brought deet. Bring lightweight clothing as I found it the most comfortable to wear wicking short sleeved jogging shirts (bring several as you will sweat and clothes washed don't dry) and carry an umbrella. If it is drier weather, there may be mosquitoes and you might want insect repellent shirts, or long sleeved shirts. Hiking pants worked well for us as they are cool and dry quickly - don't wear jeans! I found the poncho to be too hot. Their umbrellas work well. Bring a pair of flip flops or slippers to wear in the lodge and going to and from the cabins. I think they had laundry service. You have to leave your boots at the door so having something easy to slip on and off is more convenient. Bring binoculars. A headlamp is nice to have.
If you plan to take photos, be prepared for rain, and have a cloth to clean your lens. My lens was constantly fogged up. I never used my tripod as it was too muddy and mucky. Inside the rainforest and when it is raining, there is not much light so it is difficult to take photos with pocket cameras, esp. when the animals are far in the trees. Telephoto lenses work much better.

Our routine when finishing a hike was to stand outside the door and do a cursory check on each other for leeches. Then remove boots and leech socks, checking them inside and out. Then go right inside the door, remove all clothing and check our bodies. We then jumped in the shower and washed body and hair. They provide hair dryers, which are also useful for drying your clothes. Their showers are wonderful by the way! The leech socks get really grubby but they dry quickly when washed. If you are a sewer, you can make your own. Just google leech socks to see what they are like. They are made of a light poly fabric with drawstring tie at the top. The lodge sells them for pretty cheap, around $6 -8 US I think.

The rest of Borneo was interesting. There is not a whole lot to see in Kota Kinabalu or Miri. They are basically stopover places to go elsewhere. Plan 2 days for a trip to Mulu. It is not possible to see it all in one day because you have to fly there, and can only hike the caves with a guide. The flight is not long - an hour or so I believe. We were told there is park transport from the airport. Guided tours run in the afternoon and at 5:30 you can see the bats fly out of the cave. There are flights that leave Miri or KK in the morning and then it is recommended you stay either in the park lodge or the resort overnight - book ahead as they get filled up. You can also book a tour when you arrive in Miri or KK but have to do so through a local travel agent. We did talk to a few private tour operators that the hotel gave us, and could have booked a tour for the following day if we had planned to stay in the area longer. Our hotel did not have a tour desk or tour pamphlets; it did not seem to be as organized as tourist cities in Europe.
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Old Feb 18th, 2011, 08:01 AM
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Thanks for the reply. Since this is part of a 6 week trip, your packing list will come in handy, when figuring out what I need for each part. Good reminder on the binoculars! Definitely want those. For still photos, I have a plastic underwater housing for my little digital camera, so that should be great in the rain.

Did the rainforest smell come off your hiking boots once home? A poster in the past said the smell lingered a lot, so I am debating whether to drag my boots along or try out the Kampungs the guides wear. Or alternatively, take an old pair of athletic shoes and toss them when done. Only question there is traction. Kathie, if you are out there, what did you wear, as I can't recall.
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Old Feb 18th, 2011, 07:35 PM
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The kampungs should work if you don't mind your feet getting wet. The guide said the traction is really good. I would go with the kampugs instead of gym shoes. We didn't notice any odor from the rainforest -maybe if you leave your wet boots in a plastic bag. We left them out to dry in hotels after the rainforest.
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Old Feb 18th, 2011, 08:34 PM
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We wore a lightweight breathable hiking boot. This was before the days of the kampungs.
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Old Feb 19th, 2011, 08:39 AM
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Thanks both of you. Hmmm.....which to do, which to do?
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Old Feb 20th, 2011, 10:00 PM
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I don't recall any lingering smell form the rainforest either. The reference might have been to the heavy mineral odor of the water in the showers/outdoor tub. Very noticable.

We didn't have much rain, but I am wondering if polypropolene socks would help with the wet feeling inside the kampungs. Marathon runners use them successfully to prevent blisters. BTW, the rubber shoes have surprising traction, but with the reported weather and to avoid a twisted ankle I would feel more comfortable in hiking boots during this rainy season.
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Old Feb 26th, 2011, 11:10 PM
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I have posted photos of Borneo and the rainforest

http://lchin.smugmug.com/Traveling
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Old Feb 28th, 2011, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for the link. Your photos are really nice. They helped to finally make our trip to Borneo this month seem real. The BRL looks great; I just hope the leech encounters will be minimal.
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Old Feb 28th, 2011, 09:21 PM
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Have a wonderful time!
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Old Mar 3rd, 2011, 08:34 AM
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Thank you for this great, informative post!!!!

We are leaving (two adults, and two children ages SIX and EIGHT) for our trip mid-April and will be visiting the BRL...

My biggest packing concern right now is shoes. I'm letting myself get WAY too stressed about it!

We are all wearing teva-like sandals, which will be useful for many parts of the trip. We are each taking a carry-on and backpack only, so our packing space is limited. I really, really don't want to bring anything I don't have to!! I also don't want to go out and buy expensive hiking shoes/boots that would just get trashed.

This is the debate in my head. Any advice anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated. I've tried asking this so many times, but have never gotten a good, solid reply!

1) Just wear the darn tevas with leech socks. They have good traction, are comfortable, and will dry super fast. Concern: Is the single leech-sock layer enough to keep the leeches out? Are snakes a concern?

2) Wear the tevas, and plan to buy adidas kampung as soon as we arrive in Kota Kinabalu. Concerns: Will they be hard to find? Will my husband (a size 10 - USA) be able to find ones that fit? Will we be able to find ones for our children that fit? If we all find them, will they cause uncomfortably chafing/blistering?

3) Should we just pack old tennis shoes that we can throw out at the end? Concern: They'll get sopping wet and be impossible to dry. They probably won't have the best traction.

4) Should we buy some cheaper ($40 range) water/hiker shoe like the type that you can find from Lands End or something? They have air holes, so the leech situation becomes a concern again.

I really, really don't know what to do and am spending way too much energy worrying about this!!

Thanks for any advice!!

Oh, I also wanted to ask what you wore in the evenings? Was it cool? Did you need warmer clothing?
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Old Mar 3rd, 2011, 03:59 PM
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If I was going back, I'd buy the "kampungs" in KK.

You will not need warmer clothing for the evenings.
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Old Mar 5th, 2011, 03:11 PM
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Jrn- I know what you mean. I have been having the same debate going on in my head, too. I am planning on going the kampung route and buying them when we hit KK. DH is under the impression that he is going to make his own leech socks, as he is a definite DIYer. Have you found particularly good ones online anywhere or are you going to buy them at BRL? Any input from those who have gotten them?
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Old Mar 5th, 2011, 03:43 PM
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Great report, love the descriptive photos. I thought I would be ok with leeches (well as ok as one can be), and I've ben pretty lucky in avoiding them, but my heart quails at the thought of going on a hike where I know I WILL encounter them. All part of the adventure I suppose.
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