Meeting Borneo’s Enigmatic Orangutans

borneo orangutan

On a solo trip to Kota Kinabalu, I met Sarah, a middle-aged woman who dedicated her entire life to the conservation of orangutans. She’s no primatologist, nor does she see herself as an eco-warrior of some sort. Deeply fascinated, I asked, “What made you decide this is what you want to do?” I expected to hear something political or a heated discussion about poaching and the destructive palm oil industry. Instead, she answered, “One day, I took a tour to a wildlife conservancy in Kubah National Park, and happened upon a motherless baby orangutan nibbling on a leaf. I felt …

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On Board the Dream-like Trans-Mongolian Train

trans-mongolian railway

I’d like to call myself an enthusiast of long rail journeys. There’s something melodic about the slow but constant change of scenery as the train trundles past tarnished railway tracks. My trip from Moscow, Russia to Beijing, China via the Trans-Mongolian Railway was one such voyage. The route crosses two continents, three vast countries, and several prominent landmarks, including a vast portion of Siberia, the Ural Mountains, Lake Baikal, the Gobi Desert, and the Great Wall of China. I admit that before embarking on this journey, I entertained myths about endless snow, frozen soil, and blizzards that caused trains to …

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Eco-touring West Malaysia: 5 Forest Reserves to Visit

Penang National Park

The vast majority of West Malaysia is a tranquil tropical rainforest, far removed from the frenzy and anxieties that beset city life. Picture a cozy cabin suspended by wooden stilts, intertwined into an understory of saplings, palms, and mangrove. Native groundcovers fringe the damp trail, inching to reclaim lost ground. A hanging bridge weaves through brackish water and a canopy of hardwood. Birdsong, the dawn chorus of siamangs (giant gibbons), an invisible waterfall nearby, inviting you to a dreamlike state of sensory bliss. This is Peninsular Malaysia – home to the Rafflesia, ancient kempas hardwood, and the elusive Malayan tiger. …

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Discovering India on the Railways

India-evening-bazaar

There’s no other train system in the world that speaks so much about a country than that of India’s. It covers a staggering 71,000 miles of tracks and 41, 000 miles of network weaving across vast lands. While the Indian Railway is a legacy of the British Raj, its glory lies on the diverse topography it traverses and the 8.4 billion people it carries every year. These figures probably don’t mean anything at first glance. But these tracks form a fundamental part of discovering India, entrancing the likes of Paul Theroux and Wes Anderson. It was the Nizamuddin Duronto Express …

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Must-Read: Books that Will Arouse that Nomad in You

travel-books

A compelling book has the power to change your life. Moving from one chapter to another is an adventure in itself, inspiring you to take action and follow suit. Many of the travelers I’ve met are avid readers and students of the written word. On idle nights in hostels or campsites, I’d find them in a quiet corner, holed up with a book. In my case, it was Jack Kerouac’s ”On the Road,” which led me to decide that I would spend my life discovering the rich possibilities of this “too-big world.” Today, the travel genre has expanded, with titles …

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Belonging Everywhere, To Everyone

Winter was driving on and snow was on the horizon as I fumbled my way out of Portland International Airport. This was a trip I wasn’t particularly keen on for a couple of reasons. One, I haven’t been chasing the sun only to freeze up, and two, I haven’t been home in a while. I met my sister Joanne in the waiting area and I kissed her like no time had passed since we last saw each other. We spent the night at her apartment downtown. We had dinner in her tiny balcony and watched night-shining clouds hang over Mt. …

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