Borneo to Bangkok

You know how sometimes you get so far behind on something that you just want to scrap the whole thing? Well, this is my attempt to catch up on blogging in one fell swoop. I’ve just been traveling a lot, which has been delightful — just not conducive to keeping up on anything else. I also feel that way about running. And about keeping up on sweeping the gotdamn apartment, for crying out loud.

But here’s another catch-up post… Not much to write, and just a few pics to share…

Directly after KL, I flew solo over to Borneo. When I landed in Sandakan, it was pouring, but I took a taxi downtown to check it out. I did a bit of the walking tour, but then ditched that and went and saw the new Star Wars movie (yes, I realize how ridiculous this is).

Down by the waterfront, “downtown” Sandakan
View from the movie theater lobby (and a break in the rain)

I headed over to Sepilok to the lovely Sepilok Jungle Resort for a few days, and checked out the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

After a drenching walk to lunch at the Lake Bistro, I walked in the rain some more toward the Rainforest Discover Center. But as I started walking on the raised boardwalks (adrenaline bump!), it started to clear up a bit, giving some nice views of the rainforest.

As I got further and further in on the trails, I found myself in literally (actually, really, completely, literally) one of my favorite places on earth. Once I got beyond all the boardwalks and wide gravel trails, I walked for hours on the sometimes muddy paths, not seeing another human the entire time. Exactly what my soul needed.


I’ve got a thing for magnificent trees, and there was one here that made the top 5 list.


Those hours hiking were perhaps some of my favorite hours in Southeast Asia thus far. Which says a lot.

The next day, I took a bus past the kilometers and kilometers and kilometers of palm oil farms (read up on “The local impacts of palm oil expansion in Malaysia” if you so care, which I maaaaaaay assert that you might want to care) to get to the Kinabantangan River for a boat tour.

I love me a good wildlife tour, so it was no surprise that I absolutely loved this one. The tour guides said we were incredibly lucky to see the things we saw (orangutans, proboscis monkeys, macaques, crocodiles, mangrove snakes, and birds a-plenty — hornbills, bee eaters, herons, and a bat hawk), but doesn’t every guide say that to every group???

This feels like one of those places where I wished I could have spent another few days, just exploring a bit more, getting out into nature a bit more. Fortunately, though, I headed to Bangkok directly after Borneo to visit J, who had moved to Bangkok about six weeks prior. Not too many words to say about Bangkok, other than the food and especially the company were fabulous.

And, while I’m based in Phnom Penh, it seems like I’ve barely spent any time here because, shortly after getting back from Bangkok, I picked up a bit of work but then headed out to Lazy Beach out on Koh Rong Samloem for nearly a week (started as a 3-night stay with SLT1 and her beau, A, but we couldn’t bear to leave!). This, my friends, is the charmed life of Julie.

While we were on the island, A asked me about my journaling. “Do you write about events or about your thoughts about them?” My answer was both, but I find it interesting that this blog has really only contained a non-edited, quickly-scrawled catalogue of events for the past couple of months. Just wait — I’ll undoubtedly post a painfully introspective brain barf in the not too distant future. Promise!

So Many Options (so much time)

So after that insanely strong urge to sit on the couch and eat a sammich (or two. or more.), I now have gotten off the couch and started packing up the apartment. I can live here until the end of December, which seems like forever away at this point, but I know how time warps over here. Things can simultaneously or alternately feel like several eternities or the blink of an eye, and it’s hard to tell which feeling will apply in any given situation or moment. So I’d better start packing. For multiple situations.

First, I have to pack to go to Thailand for a bit. I’m headed up to Chiang Mai for a few days just to check out the city and eat some spicy ass food. No real plans yet, but I guess I can read about what to do on the flight over. (I seriously had no idea how long the flight was or when it left or where exactly it went until I just wrote that and then decided to look. I probably wouldn’t have looked at all until the day I leave if it weren’t for writing this. man, I’m getting a little too practiced at flying by the seat of my pants. thank god i don’t need a visa.)

Then, I’ll be doing a vipassana course just outside of Chiang Mai for 10 days. It makes me all nervous and makes my palms sweat just thinking about that many days of not speaking and of meditating for nearly 12 hours every day. Dear sweet mother of Jebus. I know I can do it — it’s just a question of how much it will suck (or be a leprechauncupidmermaidphoenix festival, I guess). No phone, no contact with the outside world. Again… sweaty palms…

And after that, there’s discussion among friends of an Angkor Wat Christmas, but I may forego that (maybe…) to be able to come back to Phnom Penh to re-pack for the next trip and fully move out of my current apartment. The other day, I traded a professional consult on a client for a one-way ticket to Malaysia (yep.), so a Kuala Lumpur New Year’s is definitely on the books. (yeah, I get it. my life’s crazy good. charmed life example #968.)

The question is what to do after that. I may stay there for a bit after New Year’s and find a place to volunteer through HelpX. I’ve been in contact with a few… Or I may go to Thailand. Or I may come back to Phnom Penh and get an apartment and hang here. Or go somewhere else to volunteer. Who knows? But since I don’t really know what I’m doing after Kuala Lumpur, I can’t really know how to pack yet (just clothes for hanging in a city? for working on a farm? for being gone for three days? for six weeks?).

If you know me really well, you know that sometimes I don’t like the uncertainty of not knowing what my next major step is (completely depending on the situation). I’ve learned a lot more about myself and my decision-making skills over the last few weeks, and I now comfortably keep changing my mind every four minutes or so. It just feels ideal to know what I’m doing (or at least where I’ll be geographically) for the next 3 weeks, then have the next step wiiiiiiiiiiide open.

Some things never change (beer boxes are always good for packing!)

I just know that whatever I decide, it will be the right decision simply because I’ve chosen it.