Friday, April 03, 2009

Malaysia: Love Me, Orangutan Me!

While we were in Malaysia for a long weekend, Royce saw a tee shirt that said “Love Me, Adopt Me” with an orangutan pictured inside a large heart. Reading a little quickly, she said “Love Me, Orangutan Me” and the phrase just stuck. We loved Malaysia. We loved the orangutans we saw there. We loved the sunny yet breezy weather. We loved seeing the kids running around on the grass. We loved it all, except maybe the huge monitor lizards.

Hong Kong is close to many things, including many great beach destinations. (I just read somewhere that Hong Kong is also within a 5 hour flight of half of the world’s population but that is another story line). Taking advantage of the proximity, we recently visited Kota Kinabalu, a 2.5 hour direct flight away. Malaysia borders on Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore and has two main land masses, the Pennisular Malaysia with the capital Kuala Lumpur and Malaysian Borneo with Kota Kinabalu, which are separated by the South China Sea. Malaysia consists of a number of British colonies and separate kingdoms that united in 1963 (and expelled Singapore in 1965). Malaysia has been in the news here lately with their new Prime Minister sworn in this week.

Kota Kinabalu definitely lived up to its Borneo billing. Our hotel was surrounded by lush vegetation and rolling green mountains and many interesting creatures. Our hotel had signs warning of the huge but harmless Malay Water Monitor Lizards. The kids were hopefully that we would see at least one and they were rewarded many times over. Many of these 3-4 foot lizards were out wandering the bike paths as we went for our evening ride. We also had the chance to see orphaned orangutans in a nature preserve. We hiked up to a feeding platform and watched the wild orangutans swing in for food. I found this fascinating but extreme heat and humidity had the kids wilting and we immediately left the rainforest for our preferred habitat, the pool.

Our activity filled weekend slowed down slightly to participate in Earth Hour, the worldwide dimming of the lights. Our hotel had planned a beach bonfire but torrential rain forced everyone to relocate to the hotel lobby. The lobby was a big area without walls in the front and back and we watched native Malay dancers and the rain. Dancers asked the girls if they wanted to join in the dance. Royce wisely hid from the warrior dancers but Tori jumped in. Without any cultural or linguistic understanding (or rhythm!), she did a great job and danced us to the close of Earth Hour. She looked adorable, a little blonde girl with beaded hair dancing like a maniac, excited about doing her part to save the Earth. And thrilled to be up hours past her bed time.


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