Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Christmas Adventure: Pulau Derawan

What's better than a white (sand beach) Christmas? Not much, I tell ya. I was happy to hear that my family enjoyed flurries on Christmas day - that's what we Southerners call a white Christmas. Well, I went to the other extreme: a tiny, remote tropical island off the coast of Borneo, Pulau Derawan. It was paradise. Really. Paradise. It's the kind of place where, after a couple days, you stop pointing out all the sea turtles everywhere.

It was a hike to get there. We had to take a plane (with layover), rented car, and a boat to get there. But it was worth the 12 hours of traveling. We were again joined by our awesome squad of friends from Idul Fitri, with a couple new faces this time.

And as I'm ridiculously overdue on this blog post, I'm gonna shut up and get right to the pictures. Enjoy.

Sarah enjoying the water at the hotel.
 We stayed at three different places. This is the second. It was very colorful, and the family that runs it is very nice. They kept calling me Pak Guru (Mr. Teacher).

They tie banana leaves to the dock to attract the turtles. They come and chow down. Yum!

That's a bat fish with the turtle.
Evening walk on the beach.

The view from our porch at low-tide.

We had such a nice little porch right above the water. Our room was yellow! Sarah looks happy to be there.

baby stroller
 Will and I found these little girls that followed us around one day. We saw them throwing trash on the ground, and we stopped them and told them in our horrible Indonesian that they shouldn't do that. Tidak bagus! We picked up their trash and asked some lady where the trash can was. She shrugged and pointed to the ocean. Hmmm, it's no wonder these kids don't know any better. But we got them excited about picking up trash and they all ran around picking up all the trash they could find and we threw it all away in the trash can. Of course, someone probably came by the next day and emptied all the trash into the ocean. But hey, at least we tried. And those kids were really cute, too.
 Will and I had a fishing contest: whoever catches the coolest fish gets a beer from the other person. Within a minute of throwing out my line, I pulled in this crazy fish with blue spots all over it. We stayed out there another couple hours and didn't catch a single fish. Ergo, I won!

This is absolutely not photo-shopped.

That's Spencer in the canoe there. Sarah and I were sitting on our porch at the last hotel, when we see him pull up in a canoe. 

And like I was saying about the turtles, there are soooooo many of these ancient-looking giant turtles everywhere. After a couple days, you stop jumping up and pointing it out to everybody around. Oh, yeah, another awesome turtle. Ho-hum. Just everyday life on Pulau Derawan.

The current was ridiculous at high-tide. We jumped in and immediately started floating away.

We grabbed onto the banana boat to try to save us! But of course, we capsized it.

Everything is on stilts over the water.

Don't try to take that boat out.
The public slow boat. Glad we didn't take that.
One of our favorite pastimes...jumping off the docks!

Ready, set.....


It takes about 40 minutes or so to walk around the island. Naturally, it took us until the last day to stop our routine of snorkeling, eating fish, and relaxing to do it. Will, Sarah, and I took the journey around. Here are some pics of the island.

Looking back over the island.

Not a bad place to rest.

We discovered this path heading through the island.
And we ended up in a different part of the village.

A long-abandoned putt-putt course.
And sadly, all vacations must come to an end. Sigh.
Boarding the boat.

What is it, Spencer??
And after the boats, we still had a two-hour journey by car through rural Kalimantan. It was very pretty country. So here are some pics from the car.

It was a wonderful trip to one of the most amazing places I've ever been to. Possibly my all-time favorite island. And we took a little away from the trip, too. Sarah joined a tribe! You've heard of all those head-hunter tribes from Borneo, right? Uh-oh. I've got to watch out from now on.

And with the end of one journey comes another. In a few days, we're taking our "big" trip of the year: two whole weeks in Sumatra! I am so excited. Sumatra is a huge island with horrible transportation, so we are going to confine our trip to just the northern region. On the list are Bukit Lawang and the chimpazees, Lake Toba, a volcanic lake in the mountains, with an island in the middle, and Pulau Weh, another tropical island with amazing snorkeling. We'll see what else happens. And you'll see pictures after we get back.

And also! It's almost time for our return trip to the US! Very excited. We should be back in mid-May. That's right, just in time for my birthday. (Details will be forthcoming about how you can get presents to me. )

For now, that's all. So long, friends.


  1. Hi guys! Oh my goodness it looks like you are having quite the adventure/time of your life on the other side of the world! I am so glad you are recording and sharing your experiences for the folks back home (and your grandkids!). I was sorting out bookmarks today and found your old blog which took me to this page. I am following it now- can you see mine? It's a little outdated but you've inspired me. Anyhoo miss you guys!

  2. Damn, that's a crazy fish, even if it was the only one. Looks like y'all are still having fun. LOL :) LOL