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Standing on Top of Borneo
Think what you will of Borneo, but there are no orangutans at 13,000 ft.
While the tropics of Malaysian Borneo may conjure sweaty images of the Kinabatangan River, or perhaps an exotic proboscis monkey roaming the primate sanctuaries of Sandakan, the air on the slopes of Mt. Kinabalu is too brisk for such jungle fantasies. Riverbanks covered in rafflesia are replaced by frostbitten slabs of granite, and the only real signs of life are the hardy hikers determined to experience the sunrise atop the South Pacific's highest peak.
With the glow of a waning moon lighting the narrow path, the steady stream of travelers appear more as a river of ants marching towards a common goal. Needing to cling to ropes on the steeper sections and dodge the occasional icy puddle, Julius deftly navigates around the mountain's hazards despite the fact we only possess two broken headlamps and what light the moon has left us. Equipment failures aside, with aching lungs and seriously numb toes, a small band of intrepid Borneo travelers eventually stand together atop this desolate, windswept peak.
As the first rays of sun filter over the distant peaks of Indonesia, the profound silence is broken only by a sporadic gust of wind or the well-deserved click of a camera. Content and seemingly warm, Julius cracks a sincere smile as the sun crests from beneath the misty horizon, knowing that for the time being, we are two of a handful of people lucky enough to be standing on top of Borneo.
Filed under: Indonesia