Monkey-ing Around At Sepilok


quiet contemplation for this little guy/girl

Steve and I spent a night in Sepilok on our way to the Kinabatangan River. And I’m so happy we did. We stayed at Sepilok B&B which was adorable AND it had AC!!! Not a whole lot of food options around Sepilok, so we just ate at the hotel. One afternoon one of the guests found a black scorpion in their room, so they put it in a container, so we could all safely take a look. In hindsight, we probably should have asked them to let it go. Also, some type of water snake had made it up to the property and there were a handful of kittens around….so there was essentially always something random to keep us entertained.

The Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary is definitely a tourist trap, but it’s probably the best tourist trap I’ve been to. The orangutans aren’t restricted. They are completely free to come and go as they please. The Sanctuary gives them two feedings a day, so they can forage for food, but there will always be a meal for them. And how can you resist all of the monkeys…. I could have watched them for hours….we were definitely some of the last in the park the day that we went. Here are just a few of the hundreds of pics that I took.


Crotch shot and a meal on the run….still pretty cute though


This little guy was scoping out the feeding platform before swinging down for lunch


He looks like he is completely in love with that piece of fruit


This little macaque was a total opportunist. He knew exactly which orangutans would share their food with him




Play time…

A Walkabout at Gunung Mulu National Park

We had a little extra time on each end of our Pinnacles trek, so we took the opportunity to wander around the park grounds near the headquarters. And of course we took a ton of pics….here are a few of them. Gunung Mulu is an UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s easy to see why…

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu

Incredible sunset just outside of the park

Malaysia, Mulu walkabout

Gawking at the jungle (Sorry this pic is out of focus, but it’s the only one I took of the path.)

Malaysia, Mulu Giant Fern

Giant fern where I found the stick bug

Malaysia, Mulu Bridge

This is the bridge that you cross to reach park headquarters.

I love finding weird bugs and creepy crawlers and I found a ton….it’s kinda like a scavenger hunt for nerdy adults.

Malaysia Mulu bug

Hello there little bug!!!

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu spider

Giant spider on one of the Gunung Mulu Park signs

Malaysia, Mulu Hammerhead Leech

Hammerhead leech…and yes, that is my hand

Malaysia, Mulu bug

I don’t know what kind of bug this is…maybe a pill bug…or maybe it’s a grub…yum

Malaysia, Mulu moss

I don’t know what this picture is supposed to be of…I thought there might be a very camouflaged bug, but I couldn’t find it

One of the big draws to Gunung Mulu National Park is the mass exodus of bats every night. Each night at dusk millions of bats fly out of Deer Cave to feed. We didn’t have very good weather in the evenings, so we didn’t get a chance to see it. Luckily doesn’t mind sharing peoples pics.

ATR arriving at Mulu Airport - Picture of Mulu Caves, Miri

This photo of Mulu Caves is courtesy of TripAdvisor

If you want more insight into a trip to Mulu I have two other blog posts about our trip.

The Pinnacles

Welcome to the Jungle: The Pinnacles (vimeo video)



The Pinnacles

Last year, as I was planning our 6 month honeymoon through Southeast Asia, I stumbled upon a hike in Gunung Mulu National Park called “The Pinnacles”… and I’m pretty much always coming up with “great” ideas that involve doing really stupid s#!t, this may have been one of them. I saw the video, I read the reviews, I even contacted the national park, and yet I still wanted to do the hike. So the persuading began… I may have left out a few of the details when trying to convince Steve and Angie that “yes” this would be a great experience and that “no” we weren’t going to die.

Pinnacles Panoramic

A little pano pic of the Pinnacles

After 6 weeks in Nepal we were definitely craving some beach time, but not before one last mind bending “hike” deep in the heart of Borneo. We took a MASWings flight from Miri to Gunung Mulu (which you can book online ahead of time for about $50-60USD roundtrip). As we descended into Mulu we could see the emerald colored mountains all around us. We stumbled out onto the tarmac and were immediately hit with the tropical humidity. I couldn’t help, but smile and think “finally!!!”

From the airport it’s probably only 1.5 miles to Gunung Mulu National Park and the homestays (although there is a homestay on the airport road and a resort further passed the turnoff to the park). We stayed at the cheapest homestay, duh, we’re cheap asses. It was SWELTERING, but we were right on the river and they had a toilet and shower inside. It was enough for us: it was a short walk from the park entrance and a couple of  restaurants.

Malaysia, Mulu Guesthouse view

The view from our guesthouse…not too bad for $5 or $10 bucks a night

There is NO market in Mulu. All of your food will be had at your homestay, or one of the restaurants (when they are open). Make sure to bring food from Miri to Mulu, or you will live on crackers, cookies and noodles for the three days of the trek. We didn’t know this cucial detail and the only place to get pre-packaged snacks/noodles was the gift shop. Beer is fairly expensive around the park, but we didn’t care. We were slugging down beers and doing shots of rice “whiskey” in no time.

You know a trek is going to be awesome when it begins with a trip upriver in a dugout and your guide tells you that you might have to get out to help push the boat upstream. Part of the Pinnacles “package” includes a trip to a “traditional” village to do some “shopping”…. which was pretty uninspiring, but we also visited one of the caves. I don’t remember the name of it (I know it’s part of the Clearwater Cave System). If you’re into caving Gunung Mulu has tons of options from easy beginner trips to advanced caving trips. I was able to get a few neat pics from inside the cave, but we didn’t come for caves.

Malaysia Gunung Mulu Cave

Thankfully the Malaysians aren’t as tacky as the Vietnamese when it comes to lighting the caves…no neon disco lights here.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Cave Stalagmites

More stalagmites

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu National Park, cave

Awesome formations everywhere!!!

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu, Cave Skylight


We continued up the river a bit further to our drop off point and the beginning of our 8-9 km trek to Camp 5. The trail to Camp 5 is well-marked and completely flat, so we had plenty of time to gawk at trees and bugs.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Bridge

Typical bridge along the trail…it took a little getting used to

We got into Camp 5 around mid afternoon and had time to take a dip in the very cold river. Unfortunately a storm came in that evening, so our clothes didn’t get a chance to dry out, the river swelled (no more swimming), and one of the couples that was part of our group finished their hike in the rain. Rain in the jungle means only one thing: LEECHES!!!

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Canopy

A view of the canopy…I was always looking up into the canopy for birds, bugs, monkeys, etc.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Dragonfly

Yep, I took this dragonfly pic.

Day 2 is when our little jungle trek got really crazy. Our guide told us flat out that we would know if the hike was for us within 200 meters of starting out (that’s when you come to the first rock face) and that he would turn us around if we didn’t make it to the “little pinnacles” by 10 or 11.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Mini Pinnacles

Woohoo…we made it to the Mini Pinnacles before the cut off time… time to stash water for the trip down

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Mini Pinnacles

Already sweaty, but loving every minute of it.

We started out strong, using our hands to pull ourselves up, trying not to trip or slip on roots. I don’t think you can call this trek a “trek” or a “hike” because half the time you’re using your hands to pull and push your way up. Ropes are available in the tricky spots (which we didn’t really need on the way up), metal beams connect limestone crags, and probably about 15 ladders are in place to assist you on your way up. Don’t expect your guide to help you, he won’t. He’ll wait for you at the top. It took us about 4 hours to reach the viewpoint, and it was totally worth it. The pinnacles look like skyscrapers jutting out through the jungle canopy.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu, Autumn and Steve


Malaysia, Gunung Mulu, Autumn and Angie

Us sweaty girls pose for a picture….

And now the really fun part…. going down the way you came up. Blah….my heart races just thinking about it…. turning around on top of sharp limestone rocks to lower yourself over the edge, desperately trying to find footholds, avoiding slippery roots and neon pit vipers. Yeah, they don’t tell you about the pit vipers. On our way down we saw one on a ledge just above the trail. I was too freaked out to take a picture…. Coming down from the Pinnacles is about the last place I would ever want to be bit by a pit viper.

I fell…I fell a few times, so did Steve. It started to rain on the way down, nothing crazy, but just enough to make the roots extra slick. I felt like I used my hands just as much on the way down as on the way up, lol. It took us probably about 4 hours to get back down. It was a long, long day…the trail climbs 1.2 km in 2.4 km, it was just silly, but I would do it again in a heart beat.

We stayed a second night at Camp 5 where we met Nye and Mauro, who became our travel mates for the rest of Borneo. This was also our first experience with the Hash House Harriers….drinking and running….sounds like a good idea!!!

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Camp 5

Made it back in time to enjoy the sunset at Camp 5.

The morning of Day 3 we wished Nye, Mauro and the Hash House Harriers good luck on their climb, while we set off to finish the remaining 8-9 km of our trip as we headed back to our pick up point on the river.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu River

Off we go…. back to civilization… kind of

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu

Our guides

Our trip downriver was much easier than our trip up river... more water = less pushing

Our trip downriver was much easier than our trip up river… more water = less pushing

I didn’t take any pics during the hike…the jungle was too steamy and I didn’t want to completely destroy my camera, but Steve did take some video…. mostly of my sweaty pants… I’ll apologize now. Steve’s GoPro has been put to work this year. I think about how many times it’s been dropped, banged into trees etc. and it still keeps working!!!

If you’d like to see pics from near headquarters I have a few pics here.

I haven’t written too much about Borneo yet, but it ended up being one of our favorite places on the trip. And I can’t wait to get back!!!


Southeast Asia Packing List

Steve and I are finally thinking about what to pack for our upcoming trip. Both of us have done extensive traveling abroad and have keyed in to what we want/need while traveling. While packing hiking gear won’t be appropriate for every trip, nor will scuba gear…this is the list that is most appropriate for our upcoming trip. Since we will be spending lots of time in the mountains and in the ocean our list has a little bit of everything…and since our packs are only so big we will probably have to hone our list a bit more. This a comprehensive list for the female traveler, but with a few changes could be easily adapted for the male traveler.

As with any backpacking trip it’s important to fine tune your pack and make sure that you aren’t wasting ounces since you’ll be lugging your pack around town and on and off buses, boats, planes and trains. Also, for the inexperienced traveler…you can pick up almost anything you’ll need on the road…so even if you’re thinking it’s a must, but you’ll only need it for a small part of your trip, it might be wiser and cheaper to pick it up abroad. I hope this list helps you as you pack for your next adventure. I think that this packing list would be helpful for anyone going on a RTW trip or an extended trip in South America, Africa, Asia, and even Europe depending on the activities.


TOMS Canvas Slip-Ons or Ballasox Foldable Ballet Flats
Vasque Waterproof Hiking Boot(already broken in)
Havaianas flip flops (they’ll last TEN times longer than the cheapies you buy at Old Navy)

Ah shoes….I hate packing them. And really don’t like the idea of packing heavy hiking boots, but with doing multiple treks in Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia I’ve decided to pack them even though I’d rather pack my super comfy and light weight ASICS Trail Runners.

Unders and Extras
5 pairs of ExOfficio underwear (moisture wicking and quick drying) and 2 pairs of cotton
3 bathing suits that can be mix and matched (PacSun and Victoria’s Secret are great resources for out of season swimwear)
1 sports bra
1 bra with convertible straps(neutral colored) (I love Calvin Klein bras for their durability, comfortability and their amazing fit)
3 pairs of socks (medium weight hiking socks (2), expedition weight (1))
1 pair of liner socks
hat (either a beanie or light weight running cap)

Invest in some super comfy moisture wicking, quick drying underwear. They may not be the sexiest, but ExOfficio, Terramar, and Patagonia all make some great underwear. Sometimes you can find them on sale at Sierra Trading Post or Patagonia which will save you some money….at $18+ a pop these might be the most expensive panties you’ll ever buy. I found a couple styles for slightly cheaper on amazon.

1 pair of Roxy Boardshorts
1 pair of cotton shorts
2 skirts- knee length or longer
1 pair of REI trekking pants (light weight, quick drying)
1 skinny jeans (stretchy and thin material…think jeggings, but classier)
1 pair of leggings or yoga pants (can fit under trekking pants, wear under a dress or on their own)
1 Sarong…for many reasons, skirt, dress, blanket, towel, privacy…it will be your best friend. If you don’t have one already you can easily pick one up on the road for dirt cheap!

I’m totally impartial to my Roxy Boardshorts and I’ve been known to wear them for days on end. When I was searching for them on amazon to post a link I found that they have them in more colors too, so I’m tempted to buy another pair…or two. While you can get away with short shorts in most of Thailand…you’ll need to cover up if you plan on visiting any temples or spending time in Muslim Malaysia or Indonesia; I always pack a skirt or two that hit below the knee, for this purpose exactly. Also, I like to pack my Mavi skinny jeans, they’re super stretchy and pack down really small. Steve and I hike a TON so I always pack my REI trekking pants, they’re super light weight and roll up into capris. They are similar to this pair here. Leggings are crucial too…you can sleep in them if you need to, layer them under trekking pants for an extra layer of warmth, or wear them on their own with a tunic or dress. A fold-over jersey maxi skirt is one of my new favorites. With a slightly busy pattern or stripes it can hide stains and match different tops…and it can be pulled up and worn as a dress. I couldn’t find mine online, but I really like this Ethnic Stripe Fold Over Maxi Skirt on amazon.

3 tanks (light weight cotton (2) moisture wicking (1))
3 tees (light weight cotton (1) moisture wicking (2))
2 long sleeve (moisture wicking, quick drying)
2 dresses (light weight cotton (1), wrinkle resistant (1))
1 cardigan or button-up (to throw on in a pinch to visit temples, etc.)
1 vest (extra layer of warmth for trekking in mountains)
1 Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket
1 fleece hoody

Target was a godsend for finding light weight cotton tanks and tees for super cheap. They have a great feminine fit and they’re easy to care for. For moisture wicking tops Patagonia Capilene 2 (for layering) and Capilene 3 (for cooler activities) are awesome because they don’t get as stinky as some of the other brands. I hate that so many of the hiking tops are cut boxy….just because I’m hiking and traveling doesn’t mean I want to look like a slob, so I really like Lole for their perfectly fit feminine tops. I wear them at work, running errands and on the trail. I try to make sure everything I pack atleast kinda matches/coordinates so it can be easily layered. I always pack a cardigan or button up that I can throw on over a tank when we visit temples, churches, etc.

Toiletry Kit

hand sanitizer
body wash
conditioning mask
prAna headbands(3) and hair ties (10)
chapstick/lip balm with sunscreen
shaving cream
nail clippers
Lunette Menstrual Cup or tampons
travel towel
small sewing kit (as in 1 needle and one tiny spool of threa

Arnica muscle cream

Wound care
athletic tape


ear plugs
eye mask
inflatable neck pillow

Canon EOS Rebel DSLR camera
DSLR charger
Sony Cyber-shot
camera charger
Kindle 3G
Kindle charger
Old School Apple iPod nano
Ipod charger
Netbook charger
GoPro HD HERO2(Steve has lost two so I’ll be in charge of lucky number 3)
GoPro charger
Unlocked Smartphone
smartphone chargerPen
Notepad/Journal (soft back)

Obviously you don’t need all of these electronics, but since we’ll both be blogging on our trip (and possibly working) and using different mediums to record our adventures. We’ll split up the electronics between the two of us.

Activity Items
Dive fins
Trekking Poles
Water bottle or bladder
Pepper’s Polarized Sunglasses(buy an extra pair in Kathmandu)
Daypack with waist belt and padded shoulder straps
Camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag (Koolertron)

heavy duty ziplock bags
Eagle Creek Packing Cubes: Pack-It Half Tube Cube, Black (1) and Pack-It Half Cube, Black(1)
neoprene netbook case
compression sacks (2) (Sea to Summitand REI make decent ones that are light weight)
Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack(1)

Save your sanity and stay organized on the road. Nothing drives me crazier than not being able to find something and having to dig through an entire pack to find it. Invest in a couple compression stuff sacks and separate the contents. I’ll usually have one for pants, one for tops, and one for bathing suits, underwear, socks, etc. I used to separate everything into ziplock bags, but a couple of packing cubes will help you keep your toiletries and electronics organized as well. The Sea to Summit compression bags usually hold up better than the REI bags (which have a tendency to tear at the seams when overstuffed) and the Eagle Creek packing cubes are super light weight just a couple ounces verses a half pound like some of the others.

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
Combination Lock
Pack cover or trash bag to line pack
SteriPENor purification tablets
Waterproof watch with alarm clock, either Timex Expedition or Garmin Forerunner GPS

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good headlamp while you’re travelling. It will come in handy when you’re rushing to the bathroom in the middle of the night, during the many power outages and during night hikes. You will want to bring your own lock if you’re staying in hostels….some provide a lock, but a fair number don’t and you don’t want to leave your valuables unlocked. Carabiners are one of those items that I always take with me and they are always invaluable: you can hook clothes up to dry with carabiners or hook nasty items to the outside of your pack.

Throughout your trip you will see plastic water bottles littering roads, trails, and alleys. Although bottled water is cheap, most of the countries don’t have a proper recycling system set up, so do your part by packing a Steripen or purification tablets and drink the tap water.

I love my cheap Timex watch…not exactly the prettiest watch, but it’s not going to get stolen. It has a decent alarm clock and is waterproof to 100m, so I can take it diving too. I would love to experiment with a Garmin Forerunner, but I can’t fathom spending a couple hundred dollars on a watch (even though it has GPS) when I could spend that money on another week of travel.

extra passport photos
copies of passport
drivers license, debit card, credit card, back-up credit card
travel wallet
folder with insurance, itinerary and reservation confirmations

Before you leave home have a few passport photos made. You’ll be surprised by how often you need them (for visas, permits, scuba certification). Also, keep an extra color copy or two of your passport and don’t store them with your passport. I’ll usually keep one copy in my toiletry bag and another in my daypack, backpack, or purse….or I’ll give a copy to a travel mate, if we’re going to be traveling together for the entirety of the trip. And make sure to leave a copy with a family member or roommate, just in case you find yourself in a bind.


Steve and I went on our AMAZING Southeast Asia trip. And to be completely honest, I lugged 95% of this list around for 6 months. We did however send stuff home at a couple of times during our trip. In Vietnam, after about 2 months of traveling in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, we sent a box home from HCMC with all of the stuff we hadn’t touched over the previous months: skinny jeans, TOMS, 1 skirt, 2 pairs of underwear, 1 camera bag. Also, I ended up not taking my trekking poles with me….they didn’t fit in my bag very well, and I didn’t want to have the strapped to the outside of my pack. I was fine, my knees didn’t bother me on any of our treks, so I’m happy I didn’t pack them.

After climbing the Pinnacles in Malaysia we sent another round of stuff home: fleece jacket,    all but one pair of socks, 1 wicking long sleeve shirt, 2 t-shirts, the SteriPen and all of the crap we bought in Nepal (and there was alot). My trekking pants were toast!!! I ripped them the first week of our trip in Thailand, stitched them up, and then I ripped them again in Cambodia and stitched them up again. I kept them through all of the hikes. After the Pinnacles they were fairly threadbare, and with the rips, and the horrible smell of sweating in the jungle, they promptly ended up in the trash.