Ulu Temburong


Brunei looks like a small country on the map, but there’s a lot of wilderness here. The government carved out a small corner for tourism, and the rest is well protected. Getting to Temburong national park is a bit of a long haul from Bandar Seri Begawan, by public boat up the river then bus overland for an hour then a small longboat up to the national park.

Don’t touch the trees because some of them have poison bark and others are infested with “exploding ants” that might commit kamikaze, rupturing their abdomen in order to hurt you with their sticky, toxic, yellow goo. Bamboo trees are often infested with ants all the way through, because of the hollow centre.

At the top of a hill, a metal staircase climbs up in the sky towards a birdwatching viewing platform. These rainforests continue for hundreds of miles through Borneo, crossing three different countries, and are home to a huge array of rare species - sun bears, clouded leopards, proboscis monkeys, orangutans, tigers, rhinos, pygmy elephants. In this part of Ulu Temburong, however, don’t expect to see much aside from insects. As one book put it, “do not confuse diversity with abundance”. Most of animals here are deeper in the forest, well camouflaged, and nocturnal.

I asked the guide if there are orangutans here in Brunei, she said no, and if there were they wouldn’t tell anyone. Tourism is not a priority, but conservation is, and poaching is still a big problem. She advised that if you want to see wildlife, you should go to Sarawak. She also advised that if you want to experience real Iban culture, go to Sarawak.



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