Friday, October 19, 2012

Journey to Borneo!

After loading three chests full of scientific equipment (and at least a million clif bars!), four packs of personal gear, and a slew of carry-on bags into two cars, our journey to Borneo was finally underway. In spite of reminding our second driver to be sure to take I-75 to the new international terminal of the Atlanta airport, I proceeded to take the old route to the airport via I-85, as muscle memory took over. Correcting this added an additional 20 minutes to our journey, but we made it to the check-in counter with plenty time to spare, so all’s well that ends well! The first leg our journey was a 15-hour flight to Seoul, South Korea, which departed on Sunday Oct 14 at 12:30 am EST. Thankfully, we were all able to get a decent amount of sleep during the flight. We arrived in Seoul on Monday Oct 15 at 4am local time, and stared a 12-hour layover in the face. This was made more bearable since we booked a hotel room near the airport and were able to sleep for several hours. We certainly crashed hard! Eventually we managed to pick ourselves up and explore a little bit of South Korea by train before heading back to the airport for our 6-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur, the capitol of Malaysia. We arrived in Kuala Lumpur at 9:55 pm local time, a little less travel weary than before, but we were very thankful for our beds once we checked into our hotel. We spent all of Tuesday October 16 running necessary errands around Kuala Lumpur, like picking up our federal research passes and buying food for when we are at the remote Camp 5. But along the way were able to see many of the sites of the city, including Kuala Lumpur’s huge twin towers! We were also asked to pose several times in photos with other tourists, which was a little strange but made us feel a bit like celebrities! After completing all our official tasks and taking in a few of the sites, we were back at the hotel for our last night in ‘civilization’. At 8:30 am local time on Wednesday Oct 17, we finally boarded a flight headed for Borneo and Gunung Mulu National Park. After a quick stop in Borneo’s coastal city of Miri, we hopped on a puddle jumper plane to Mulu and flew over the rainforest. More than 72 hours after leaving Atlanta, GA, we were finally at Mulu. It was a pleasant surprise to find park manager Brian Clark waiting at Mulu airport to take us and our dozens of bag to Mulu park. After settling in at Mulu Park’s research center, we were ready to start the next leg of our expedition – the science!