family · sewing · teen · tween

Style Arc Bonnie top and Clare pants

As well as sewing Clare pants for Clare, I sewed a pair for Stella, and paired it with a Style Arc Bonnie top in the same fabric for the look of a jumpsuit without the impractability.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

I reviewed the pants extensively in my previous blog post. For Stella I reprinted the pattern and sewed size 4, the smallest size. Once again I shortened the leg length about two inches before cutting out.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

This pattern works equally well on Stella as it did on Clare. It’s interesting sewing for the two of them at the moment. Genetics are strong! They’re pretty much the same shape, with Stella a couple of inches shorter and just one size smaller all over. Stella did her growing at a much earlier age than Clare did, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the two are pretty much the same height and sizes in about another year or two.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It’s a textured rayon, in a blue-green (teal?) colour that really suits Stella. Unfortunately the textured, more open-weave areas do catch very easily and tear, as we discovered the first time she wore the pants when she climbed a tree (she is still twelve)! I had enough scraps to patch it, but have spotted quite a few pulls in various places after subsequent wears.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

So, on to the top! It’s a modification of view B of the Style Arc Bonnie woven top. This is another pattern that I bought in the multi-sized version, because I reckon that I am likely to sew it multiple times for multiple people.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

From the pattern website: This wonderful new pattern comes with two options; A & B. Pattern “A” Features a slightly cropped body length, relaxed fit with bust darts. With a round neck and a functional back opening that can be buttoned this sleeveless top is the up to the moment look. For those that prefer a more covered garment there’s option “B”. Featuring a square shaped body and dropped shoulder line with an optional buttoned tab. The body length is longer and has a buttoned back, round neck as option “A”. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Linen, crepe, cotton, rayon.

bonnie-woven-tops

Stella didn’t want the buttons down the back, or on the shoulder tabs. This was an easy change – I just folded the back pattern piece to the centre back (where the buttonholes were marked) and cut the back piece on the fold. I made a corresponding modification to the back neckline facing. This style decision also made it an extremely fast garment to sew. No buttonholes or buttons – the shoulder tabs are just stitched in place.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

I sewed size 4 for Stella, so you can see that this is a very roomy style.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

Stella wore this outfit to our Christmas Day celebrations. She seemed cool and comfy in it, plus the pants have the all important pockets in which to stash her Christmas present – her first iPhone.

Style Arc Clare pants and Bonnie top

As it turned out, we all wore something sewn by me on Christmas Day – and so did Mum!

2019-12-25 10.45.28-2

I thought that some of you might like to see this next photo of my parents (Dad is ninety-two), my brother and I, and the two granddaughters.  We’re a small family (in numbers as well as in height), and we really span the ages.  Dad was eighty when Stella was born!  After this photo was taken we headed to an extended family lunch, where there were forty of us – Mum’s siblings and their partners, all the children of the next generation (my cousins) and their partners, then all of the generation below who range in age from two to twenty-two.  Quite an achievement to get us all together from three different states and many different cities.  My daughters each have a second cousin very close to them in age and it was beautiful to watch them interacting with one another and finding common interests.

Finlayson family

 

Borneo 2020 · family

A day in Brunei

We flew Royal Brunei Airlines to and from Borneo, and they have a pretty clever trick for the homeward journey.  Our very short flight from Kota Kinabalu got to Bandar Seri Begawan (the capital city of Brunei) quite early in the day – shortly after 9.00am. But the next flight onward to Melbourne didn’t leave until the evening. That left us with a day in Brunei. I had already arranged a day tour with Irene from Tours By Locals to make the most of our time.

Irene met us at the airport, then we headed straight for Jam’Asr Mosque (His Majesty’s Mosque).  This mosque was built by the current Sultan of Brunei, and can hold up to 5000 worshipers.  There are 29 golden domes (he’s the 29th Sultan, therefore 29 domes) and four minarets with height of 58 metres.  I read somewhere that it cost over US$1billion to construct.  The Sultan has his own private escalator entrance on one side.  The workmanship and detail in this mosque and the surrounding buildings and gardens is absolutely exquisite.  It was shoes off for all and long black coat on for women to go inside.  We were able to tour the area where the men pray – women pray separately, and that area was not accessible to tourists.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

I really love this style of architecture, and the tiled patterns and designs used for ornamentation. The colour combinations and the mosaics really are beautiful.  Seeing this mosque reminded me of visiting Spain, Egypt and Morocco in my mid-twenties.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

That’s a sneaky interior photo – isn’t that ceiling and the stained glass stunning!  There are no picture or photos of people inside mosques – decoration is all colour,  shape, pattern and text.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

The building in the photo below was designed for people to leave their shoes in when attending the mosque.  There’s a central raised bench to sit on to make it easier to put on and take off your shoes, and a number of racks to place them in.  But this building is a victim to poor planning – because then you still have to walk a significant distance (shoeless) to the main mosque building then around to the side to the steps where the entrance is located.  So rather than using this building, everyone takes off and leaves their shoes at the main entrance to the mosque.

Brunei day tour

From the mosque we headed to the river to jump onto a water taxi for a tour of the mangroves and the water village, Kampong Ayer.  The village has been inhabited for centuries, and was the original capital of the areas of Borneo that are now Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei.  Settlement on land really didn’t begin until the twentieth century, and there are still more than 10,000 people living in the water village.  It has a pretty amazing infrastructure, including primary and high schools and it’s own mosques and police and fire stations (fire is a pretty common occurence in these timber stilt houses).  Electricity, drinking water, phone lines, tv and internet are all available.  Sewerage services however are variable.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

That’s a primary school in the photo above.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

We started our visit by heading out to the mangroves along the river to see if there were any proboscis monkeys there.  It was pretty much the middle of the day, so unsurprisingly we didn’t see any.  It was low tide though, and there were plenty of crocodiles sunning themselves on muddy banks, being closely watched by herons.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Houses seemed to vary quite a bit in the quality of their construction.  There were derelict and burnt out buildings dotted throughout, in various stages of either being disassembled prior to reconstruction, or just being left to slowly rot away.  And there were others that were clearly being constantly improved.  The water village also contains pubic housing; double storey buildings that can be purchased with extremely low cost government loans.

Brunei day tour

We were fortunate to be taken to our water taxi driver’s own house for a light lunch.  He is the second youngest of eleven children, and lives in his parent’s house with his wife and young son.  His father is a fisherman, and when we arrived the day’s catch was being sorted on the deck by the women of the house.

Brunei day tour

The house was built on a very large platform, with railings around the outside.  The kitchen was on the platform, with all the mod cons incuding fridge, oven and stove top.  In the centre of the large platform was another large building with a door.

Brunei day tour

The door led us into a loung room, full air-conditioned with wi-fi!  Honestly, sitting in the lounge you’d have absolutely no clue that you were in a house built on stilts above the water.  This house has seven bedrooms built off two living areas.  Amazing!  We were served some delicious local dishes – chicken and rice, beautifully flavoured, fish crackers, then the most divine thin and crispy banana fritters I’ve ever eaten.  Brunei has lots of different types of bananas; clearly the perfect type had been chosen for the fritters!

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

That’s the living room from the outside – you can see the windows from the inside and the outside in the previous two photos.  The cats were in their own enclosure – probably a good thing when you’re sorting fish a couple of metres away!

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Time to carefully climb back down the ladder to the boat and continue on with our tour.  This visit was really a highlight for me – I love seeing how people live.  Maybe I’m just nosy!  The next photo is the house from the water as we drove away.

Brunei day tour

People commute back and forth from the water village and the land for work (if they don’t work in the water village itself).  Most catch a water taxi, as boats are expensive to buy.  Many people have cars that are parked in lots on the land, so they travel across the water to their cars and then drive to where they need to go.

Brunei day tour

As Irene had noticed our interest in the ways that people live both now and in the past, she next took us to the Malay Technology Museum.  The puzzle that Dan is attempting to solve is a traditional Bruneian game, Salok Salokan.  We were quite entertained by the Museum’s toilet rating – this was a A grade toilet!  Did you know that there is an ASEAN Public Toilet Standard?

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

The museum shows the traditional way of life in Brunei, and has three main galleries:

  • Water Village Traditional House Gallery: This gallery shows architectural structure of houses in the water village – Kampong Ayer in the late 19th up to the mid 20th century
  • Water Village Traditional Technology Gallery: This gallery depicts various types of handicrafts and cottage industries found in the water village. The display includes boat construction, roof-making, gold smiting, silver smithing, brass casting and cloth weaving
  • Inland Traditional Technology Gallery: This gallery contains exhibits of indigenous technologies of the inland people. It shows models of Kedayan, Dusun and Murut houses and a Punan hut. Techniques of production of Sago, brown sugar and handicrafts are also displayed.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Our next stop was to see the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque (the previous Sultan’s Mosque).  This mosque was completed in 1958, and is considered one of the most beautiful in South East Asia.  That’s 24K gold covering the main dome.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

A park nearby contained this HUGE frame, positioned to perfectly highlight the mosque.

Brunei day tour

We had arrived at the mosque with only a few minutes up our sleeves to see the inside, so had a whirlwind visit.  Once again it was shoes off for all, and this time a black hooded robe for all the women.  Very Harry Potter.  We snapped a couple of quick sneaky photos under the direction of our guide.  This was an extremely beautiful building, in a different style to the current Sultan’s mosque.  Nearly all the materials used in the mosque were imported from overseas.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei became super rich when oil was discovered, although I believe that as a small country with a small population the Sultanate had aquired considerable wealth prior to that time.  The Sultan’s family has been in control of the country for centuries, and the Sultan is one of the richest men in the world.  Oil and gas production accounts for 90% of GDP, and a fair chunk of the profits go to the Sultan.  We stopped briefly outside the gates of Istana Nurul Iman (His Majesty’s Palace).

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

The palace is gigantic – 1788 rooms!  From there we headed to The Empire Hotel and Country Club.  This was funded by the Sultan – and once again, it has to be seen to be believed.  The marble, the gold, the mosaics, the swimming pools, the restaurants, the shops, the air conditioning, the detail, the architecture – and the toilets here were more than A grade!  The building was immense.  There are not major hotel chains in Brunei – it’s just not big enough – so this hotel more than fills the need for a luxury hotel for visiting celebrities/politicians/heads of state/anyone who can pay.  There was an ASEAN tourism conference taking place in some during our visit.  There’s no doubting that the Sultan is rich.  Beyond my imaginings.  He’s also a controversial figure in the west – you might be interested in this article and this one – although all those we met during our day in Brunei spoke extremely highly and respectfully of the Sultan and how he cares for the people of Brunei.

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

Brunei day tour

From there it was back to the airport to catch our overnight flight home.  Flight time from Brunei to Melbourne is a little over six hours; not long enough for a decent sleep.  When we eventually walked through the door at home it was 7.30am and we were exhausted!

Brunei day tour

The photo below shows you our souvenirs – fabric, bedspreads, a scarf, gifts for others, baskets, beadwork, coffee, tea and some masks.  A few things that will bring back very special memories as we use them.  It was  a really wonderful time.

Brunei day tour

We’re now settled into our usual Melbourne routines, with Dan back to work and the kids getting ready for school.  Clare starts year 12 and Stella starts year 7 in a few days time, so we’ve got a big year ahead.  I’ve also got quite a bit of work booked, including some that’s interstate.  Looks like I’ll have some time in airports and hotels to start planning our holiday for January 2021- to Japan!

Borneo 2020 · family

Last day in KK

I assume by now that those of you who are reading my blog realise that we’ve actually been home for ten days – but I really, really want to get all of our holiday recorded!  So please bear with me.

We didn’t want our last day in Kota Kinabalu to be too rushed – after all, this was a holiday! So it was another fairly late sleep in, then we caught a Grab to a little museum, Chanteek Borneo Indigenous Museum. I’d come across this little museum in a rather convoluted way – when we did the walking tour of Kota Kinabalu, I chatted to one of the other participants, who was a local man. As it turned out, his wife likes to sew, and is on Instagram. I of course looked her up – you can find her as @kuaitahir – and she sews and sells beautiful handbags, made from fabrics printed in traditional designs. And some of those fabrics are by Kain Chanteek (@kain.chanteek on Instagram) who are closely linked to the Chanteek Borneo Indigenous Museum. Phew! Thanks social media for leading me to a fun place to visit!

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

The museum contains over 300 Barbie-type dolls, all dressed in different indigenous costumes, arranged in dioramas to depict the lives of the different tribes in the past. It sounds as though it could all be a bit twee – but it’s really not! The exhibits are beautifully put together and are incredibly detailed. Each comes with a QR code that you can scan to get more information about the specific object or scene. A huge amount of effort has gone into the museum. And the fun thing – they also offered the chance to dress up in costumes from a variety of tribes.

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

We then sent the girls on the task to find the tribe their costume belonged too. This was more difficult than you would think!

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

The belts that each of the girls had around their waists were very heavy – they were essentially wearing their wealth, or dowries.

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

The exhibition also contained plenty of life sized objects from indigenous communities, with explanations of their use.

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

To make it even more fun, the girls and I did a little beading class, and each made a small bracelet. It took us about an hour to make each one; I have even more respect for those who make complex beaded items. It’s painstaking, time-consuming work.

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

We actually spent a number of hours at the museum. Remember that I said we’ve travelled by Grab about 50 minutes to get there? Getting back to KK was not so simple – there were no Grabs available in the area! Fortunately the museum staff then got on their phones and did some ringing around, and located another rideshare driver friend of a friend who would be happy to take us. Phew! He eventually dropped us back at Imago Mall, where we bought some highly indulgent afternoon tea. Starbucks (of all places) had been on Stella’s wishlist of places to visit, so we ticked that box, along with donuts from another shop that had been tempting Stella constantly.

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Dinner that night was back at Madam Kwan’s. Then it was time to ensure that we’d packed absolutely everything before going to bed. There was an 8.40am international flight to Brunei to catch the next day.

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Last day in KK

Borneo 2020 · family

Snorkelling in KK

Just three to eight kilometres off the coastline of Kota Kinabalu is the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, a group of five small islands; Gaya, Manukan, Mamutik, Sapi and Sulug.  The islands are not only incredibly close, but are surrounded by coral – which also means fish.  So I booked us a boat and snorkeling trip through Amazing Borneo Tours.  We were aware that we could have just gone to Jesselton Point and jumped on a local boat to the islands, but I thought that we’d have a better  experience if we were snorkeling from a boat.  I am happy with that decision!  Sometimes it’s worth paying more for convenience, expertise and comfort.

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

The fun actually started as we pulled out from the private marina at Sutera Harbour Resort. The resort itself was extremely fancy – no dodgy fittings or plastic instead of marble at this resort! Definitely not in our budget to stay at, but nice to see. Our boat was a Seatango boat, run very professionally. We cruised out to our first snorkeling location, with beautiful views of Kota Kinabalu and Mount Kinabalu behind it. Stella loves travelling fast with the wind in her hair – the boat was perfect for her! Clare and I on the other hand have a tendency toward motion sickness.

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

The skipper and snorkeling guides checked out the visibility of the water – there had been a lot of rain the night before, which affected how much you could see – then we moved to another spot and jumped in.

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkeling with decent gear that doesn’t leak really is a marvellous thing! Although the water was a bit cloudy at first, it cleared as we got a little closer to the islands and the water got shallower. The reefs were amazing. It was a bit clouded over, so the colours of the coral were mostly on the green spectrum, but the amount of life under the water was incredible! So many fish, in so many colours; sea urchins with their glowing ‘eye’ spots, sea cucumbers, anenomes waving their tentacles, and some little jellyfish (luckily the box jellyfish weren’t out in force yet). Some people even spotted some sharks, and others a sea turtle! I was pretty happy floating around in the water with my family, with the occasional kick of the flippers. It’s an amazing world down there. We shifted to a second site, but unfortunately bobbing around in the water in combination with not wearing my glasses was really setting off motion sickness for me, so I returned to the boat (I figured that it would be better to vomit off a boat than to vomit into my snorkel and surrounding water). After around a total of one and half hours in the water (across the two sites) we headed to an island to have lunch and to explore.

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

There were monitor lizards and the ubiquitous macaques up one end of the beach, looking for morsels to eat. We wriggled our toes in the sand, spotting little crabs and pretty shells. There were also some trees that I didn’t recognise – does anyone know what this fruit/flower is?

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

There were a few people swimming off the shore, but really, we’re not ‘beach people’. We all whinge and complain about sand in crevices, salt water up noses, and the potential for sunburn. We really do prefer rivers and lakes – so an hour to explore the beach area of the island was just right for us; we didn’t need longer.

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Wow, that guy was super skilled with a very sharp knife on those coconuts! The liquid inside was so yummy – super fresh.

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Even from the jetty you can see plenty of fish of various sizes in schools. Our trip back to the marina only took around fifteen minutes or so, at speed (much to the girls’ delight).  An absolutely brilliant way to go snorkeling.  I’ve been snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns, and enjoyed this just as much – maybe even more because the boat ride to get there was comparatively so short!  Dan says that this day was one of the highlights of the holiday.

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

We were back at our Air BnB by mid-afternoon, which gave us for reading and device time. Dinner that night was over at Imago Mall again, at Madam Kwan’s. What a lovely restaurant! We’ve never had as many attentive staff at once, and the food and drinks were all top notch. Dan gave the special durian cendol dessert a try (cendol is a refreshing Malaysian dessert consisting of shaved ice, creamy coconut milk, red beans, corn, palm sugar syrup (gula melaka) and little green strands of dough made from rice flour. To add more flavour to this delicacy, durian pulp or other fruits like lychee, as well as nuts, jelly and ice-cream are added), and we squeezed in a little more shopping at E-teen. Clare is very happy with her new outfit, and is still giggling at the words on the jeans and the fact that her top has a Toy Story character on it.

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Snorkelling in KK

Borneo 2020 · family

Chilled day in KK

Unsurprisingly, our first day back in Kota Kinabalu (known as KK) was a very slow day.  Major sleeping in, major loads of laundry.  I have a bit of a thing about laundry – I like to ‘stay on top of it’.  At home I do at least one load a day – the clothes we’ve worn the day before, then often a load of towels/sheets etc (a load of fabric souvenirs if I’m lucky).  With a family of four it can really add up quickly!  Anyway, I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know there.

Chill day in KK

As it was Sunday, the Gaya Street market was on. We headed in to have brunch at Oldtown White Coffee, which we knew from prior experience would have a food offering to tempt every member of the family. For the Victorians reading, the girls equated it to Degani. It’s not hard to work out the food preferences of each of us!

Chill day in KK

We had just enough time after eating for a short wander through the market before the stall holders started packing up. We came across this man, Huang Poh Lo, doing calligraphy. As well as being a talented artist, he was quite the conversationalist. You meet so many interesting people when travelling! As well as being a self taught calligrapher, he’s a self taught musician with his own youtube channel. I found an article about him here and there’s a short documentary about him on youtube. Worth watching!

Chill day in KK

Clare was on a mission to find some teen clothes – we hoped that the the fashion stores may stock smaller sizes, given that the Malaysian population appeared to be smaller in size than the Australian population. Eventually we located E-teen, which appeared to be like a Korean version of Supre. Nothing had sizes on the labels, and some pieces had really dodgy sewing. Both Clare and Stella can spot poor construction nowadays! We were successful in finding a few nice pieces for each of the girls.

Chill day in KK

That’s Stella in one of her new tops – she wore it out of the store! She was in the queue for some crispy waffles. This day really was a food day.

Chill day in KK

Between the time that we left KK to head on our jungle trip and the time we’d returned, everything was gearing up for Chinese New Year. Decorations were for sale everywhere, and the shops were full of red and gold in all sorts of formats. It’s obviously a huge time of celebration in KK.

Chill day in KK

Chill day in KK

The afternoon was spent watching videos on the internet (Stella), doing laundry and planning for the next day (me), reading (Clare and Dan), and taking a dip in the air BnB pool (Stella and Dan). The pool looked especially lovely at night, as it has twinkling lights set into the bottom of it. Our room was a few storeys above, and it was so pretty to look down on.

Chill day in KK

Chill day in KK

Chill day in KK

Chill day in KK

We ventured back to Imago mall for dinner, then had an early night.  So that was it for the day! A relatively short blog post compared to the previous ones.

Borneo 2020 · family

From the Danum Valley back to Kota Kinabalu

Mike was really keen to find gibbons.  We’d listened to their call on the previous morning, but they were too far away for us to get to – they move fast through the trees!  So our morning walks today were the last chance for us to spot them.

Danum Valley to KK

Danum Valley to KK

Danum Valley to KK

Danum Valley to KK

Danum Valley to KK

Danum Valley to KK

We started off at 6.00am. Mike could hear the gibbons calling – so could we! Such a distinctive sound.  We headed over toward the area that the sound was coming from, spotting sambar deer and wild pigs along the way. Actually, the sambar deer also spotted us and let out an alarm call that was surprisingly loud!  Scared the pants off all of us!

Danum Valley to KK

Danum Valley to KK

The deer move fast; I don’t have many photos of the deer at all. The gibbons also move fast – but they weren’t anywhere that we could see them. We headed to breakfast, then back to another part of the jungle near an open air camping area – Mike thought that was the direction that the gibbons were headed to. And he was right! Before we knew it there was movement in the trees nearby – one young gibbon, then an adult female with a baby tightly clinging to it’s stomach, then an adult male! I’m going to deluge you with photos, but really they only give you a glimpse of how wonderful it was to watch them swinging about. Those long arms!

Gibbons - day 15

Gibbons - day 15

Gibbons - day 15

Gibbons - day 15

Gibbons - day 15

Gibbons - day 15

The Bornean Gibbon Hylobates muelleri is one of two species of gibbon inhabiting the island of Borneo, the other being the Agile Gibbon Hylobates agilis. The species is endemic to Borneo, and is confined to tall primary rainforest in lowland and lower mountain areas. Gibbons are exclusively arboreal, and do not descend to the ground. The species may continue to survive in forests affected by logging, as long as sufficient tall trees survive in close proximity to allow ease of movement from one tree to the next. In practice, most logged areas support few or no gibbons. Gibbons occur in small family groups generally comprising a male, female and their young. The whooping call of adult gibbons early in the morning is, perhaps, the most iconic sound of Borneo’s rainforest. (Source)

Now that’s a pretty special way to finish off our time in the jungle.

Danum Valley to KK

Danum Valley to KK

Danum Valley to KK

Danum Valley to KK

While on our six day/five night Sticky Rice Travel tour we spotted the following:

  • Seven out of the ten species of primate found in Sabah
    • long tailed macaques
    • pig tailed macaques
    • proboscis monkey
    • gibbon
    • orangutan
    • red leaf monkey
    • silver leaf monkey
  • Six of the eight Hornbill species found in Sabah
    • black (Asian) hornbill
    • oriental pied hornbill
    • wreathed hornbill
    • wrinkled hornbill
    • rhinoceros hornbill
    • bushy crested hornbill
  • mouse deer
  • sambar deer
  • Malay civet
  • flying squirrel
  • pygmy squirrel
  • prevost squirrel
  • giant squirrel
  • wild beared pig
  • sun bear
  • crocodile
  • grey tail racer snake
  • monitor lizard
  • green agama lizard
  • frog
  • many birds including
    • Wallace’s hawk eagle
    • Jerdon’s baza
    • crested serpent eagle
    • buffy fish owl
    • storm stork
    • grey heron
    • purple heron
    •  egret
    • kingfisher
    • woodpecker
    • forest crow
    • crested fireback pheasant
    • oriental darter
    • blue headed pitta
    • Diard’s trogon
  • and let’s not forget
    • tiger leech
    • giant millipede
    • cockroach
    • centipede
    • ball millipede
    • snail
    • tarantula
    • scorpion.

The primates that we didn’t see were the tarsier, slow loris and grey leaf monkey.  There weren’t any pygmy elephants around that we saw either.  All the more reason to come back one day!

While the tour was one of the more expensive parts of our holiday, it was worth every single dollar.  I cannot imagine how much we would have missed out on without Mike there to lead us down jungle paths, explain every bird, animal and insect call, spot creatures, inform us about the trees, plants and fungi, make jokes with, and generally provide us with an educational and enjoyable time.  He answered all our questions happily and enthusiastically and really does have a wealth of knowledge.  It’s pretty clear that he really loves his job, and sharing the wonder of the Sabah rainforests with others.

Danum Valley to KK

It took us around two and a half hours to get back to Lahad Datu to catch our late afternoon flight back to Kota Kinabalu.  There had been flash flooding and we drove through water that was streaming across the road on a few occasions.  Once back in KK we checked in to our Air BnB and made the most of the hot showers and washing machine before heading off to bed.

Borneo 2020 · family

The Danum Valley

As you can probably imagine, our full day in the Danum Valley was all about spotting living things.  We were up before 6.00am again to head out on our first trek of the day.  As we prepared to start our trek, a wild pig and it’s twelve piglets crossed the road ahead of us, followed by the boar shortly afterwards.  It had rained a lot, so the leaves on the jungle floor were all wet and the clay was slippery and muddy.  And the leeches were active.

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

That’s a tiger leech in the above photo.  They tend to live on leaves that are about 1 metre above ground level and attach themselves to your legs or any other part of you as you brush past them.  They move fast and are attracted to body heat.  They can grow up to 3 or 4 cm long, but plenty are smaller.  It mostly hurts when they fasten on to you, and they pump in a lot of anticoagulant when they’re feeding.  Yes, I know this from experience after one having a large meal on my back.  Eurgh.  We pulled off a couple of others from our bodies when they’d only just attached – it leaves a round bruise that looks like a blood blister (which I suppose it is, essentially).  The leech socks did work effectively to keep them off our legs and feet though!

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Now I have to admit – this is not Stella’s idea of how to spend a holiday. She does love the animals – especially the baby ones – but she most definitely does not love bugs, leeches, mud, sweat, treks and food with flavour. I was actually pretty proud of her – she showed courage in doing things that were out of her comfort zone and were things that she didn’t really want to do. And in the end we progressed to ‘I have complaints – but I’m keeping them in’. Well done! That’s the spirit!

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Clare also hates being sweaty, dirty, and threatened by leeches, but she’s a hardened Girl Guide and Gold Duke of Ed participant, so just gets on with it. That said, we were all pretty happy with our cold showers while in the Danum Valley – I think that Clare took two on this day! We did three treks – the early morning one, another straight after breakfast, then another before dinner. That did leave us with some time to chill before and after lunch. The girls and I took the opportunity to catch up on our novels while Dan went for a swim in the river (in the rain).

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

From the Danum Valley Field Centre website: Prior to may 1995, Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) was an informal protected area in the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve of primary, undisturbed, predominantly lowland rainforest with an outstanding complement of Borneo flora and fauna. It was part of the almost one million ha forest concession assigned to Yayasan Sabah. In 1976, WWF-malaysia suggested that the area be declared a national park. The Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) is a 438 sq. km tract. However, Yayasan Sabah Board of Trustess resolved on November 28, 1980, to leave the area within Yayasan Sabah concession but shall leave it unlogged for the purpose of conservation. Thereafter it is known as “Danum Valley Conservation Area”.

The Forest Management Plan for Yayasan Sabah Concession Area was drawn up and approved by the State Cabinet in 1984. Principle to this plan was the designation of two areas as protected conservation areas, one of which being the Danum Valley Conservation Area. In May 1995, the area was declared a Class I (protection) Forest Reserve by the Sabah Legislative Assembly, meaning that it cannot be logged except by decisions of a two thirds majority vote by the Sabah Legislative Assembly. In 1999, Danum Valley Conservation Area was further gazetted under The Cultural Heritage (Conservation) Enactment 1998, as a Cultural Heritage (Conservation) Area.

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

To facilitate activities realated to research. Education, training and wilderness recreation, Yayasan Sabah established the Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) IN 1986. Located on the edge of Danum Valley Conservation Area, the Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) is open to both international and local scientists/ researchers, who must first apply in waiting to the sectary, Danum Valley Management Committee.

Danum Valley Field Centre has evolved into one of the foremost rainforest research establishments in South East Asia. The extensive facilities include permanent research plots and an extensive trail system, well-equipped analytical laboratories, computer and email facilities, a library, climatic station data, phenology monitoring data base, trained field staff, vehicles, housing and sports facilities, a Nature Interpretation and Environmental Education Building and a Nature Discovery Centre, several canopy observatation platforms and towers, and a suspension bridge over the Segama River.

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

There was quite a bit of rain over the course of the day, which makes some animals harder to spot. Unsurprisingly, they like to get out of the rain too! But there were always other things to find.

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Research programmes at Danum Valley began in 1982….To date over 350 collaborative research projects have been completed or are underway resulting in about 400 publications. Major studies focused on natural forest dynamics, regeneration within artificial gaps, nutrient cycling and the effect of logging on water quality and vertebrate populations, and a long-term research related to climate commenced in 2008 by a consortium of 8 institutions with collaboration from Malaysian universities/ institutions and headed by University of Lancaster, UK.

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

A large group of botany and zoology students from Swansea University in Wales had arrived on the same night as us.  They were busy during the day in classes or trekking around on various projects.  They were all sleeping in the simple hostel accommodation that was a short walk from the dining room.  Dan and I had commented to one another on how subdued and well behaved they seemed on the first night; on the second night we could hear the murmur ‘there’s beer for 15 ringgit!’ travel from one end of the verandah to the next, shortly followed by a rush of students to get whichever cans they could.  They were much more chatty that night!

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley Conservation Area is dominated by dipterocarp tress, with the canopy reaching a height of over 70 metres in some places. Some 90% of the Conservation Area is classified as dipterocarp forest, with the remaining 10% being low canopy, sub-montane forest mainly found on Mt. Danum in the heart of the Conservation Area.

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020

After dinner we hopped on to the back of a 4×4 with a couple of the park rangers armed with spotlights. They were able to find a few creatures that we hadn’t seen previously! I have no idea how they can spot them from a moving vehicle in the dark – but they do!  This was Stella’s favourite activity in the Danum Valley.  We saw plenty of sleeping birds (all puffed up with their heads tucked under their wings, sitting in a row on a branch), a flying squirrel (that didn’t fly for us), sambar deer, mouse deer, Malay civets, and a tarantula!  And of course there were plenty of geckos around.

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020 night drive

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020 night drive

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020 night drive

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020 night drive

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020 night drive

Danum Valley 10 Jan 2020 night drive

Into the Danum Valley

I was a little sad the next day when I discovered that a couple who did a night walk (while we were out on the 4×4) spotted a tarsier!  This was one animal that I had really hoped to see while we were in Borneo; alas, for us it wasn’t to be.  However, we were really lucky to have seen the mouse deer, and this was the only time that we saw civets.   It really was an amazing day.  Once again many thanks go to Mike for his excellent guiding abilities.