Uncharted Backpacker

Category - Malaysia

A Journey into Bajau Laut, The Sea Gypsies of Borneo

Sabah, Malaysia, Borneo

Ever since I saw the BBC Human Planet documentary on the Bajau Laut I have been fascinated with these “people of the sea”. It is said that many of the Bajau can hold their breathe for upwards of five minutes, plunging into the depths with only a pair of wooden hand made goggles. Trying to find information on visiting the Bajau proved difficult but here I am speeding along in a small wooden boat, flying past remote islands and impossibly blue waters with my Bajau guide who I met only moments ago at the Semporna docks. Suddenly in the distance the rickety frames of wooden structures emerge like a mirage over the vast ocean horizon. Finally, I have made it to the home of the Bajau Laut!  Read More

River Skrang and the Batang Ai, Sarawak – Borneo

River Skrang and the Batang Ai, Sarawak

Sarawak Borneo

“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” There you go, I said it. I’ve always felt that it was just another cliché-stupid-feel-good-about-yourself saying, but this time, I perceived it with real meaning. As my boat cut further up the River Skrang, time came to a halt. The muddy waters, the ancient, massive jungle foliage hanging over the river, the sounds of birds and monkeys, my newfound Iban family singing and laughing behind me; I took it all in. This is what travelers spend all those long hours searching for, all that hard work, all that money spent, for this one, perfect moment. This is a journey I will never forget, one that will stay with me long after I have left this place.

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Getting a Hand Tapped Dayak Tattoo in Borneo

Sarawak Borneo, Malaysia

In an almost trance-like state, I lay on my back as the needle is pounded into my shoulder with a wooden stick. Traditional Sape music is playing in the background. Two tattoo-clad Iban, kneeling beside me, concentrate deeply as they slowly punch the ink into my skin. Then, out of the silence, Boy flamboyantly calls out Maa Guii!” and we all break into laughter. Read More

Into Borneo’s Heart, Belaga to Kapit – Sarawak, Malaysia

Borneo, Sarawak Malaysia

Like images on an old film projector, the jungle slowly flickers by. When the hum of the boat’s engine slows, it’s noise is drowned out by the sounds of Borneo’s deep jungle. Traveling here is not easy, but the rewards of Borneo’s interior are great for those seeking something different, something more vibrant and beautiful. As the boat pushes further downriver, the jungle is occasionally broken by the odd Dayak longhouse settlement. This place is special, a travelers absolute fantasy. I am happy to be back, back in the heart of Borneo.

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