Sumbiling Eco Village, Brunei

Ulu Temburong National Park was cool but staying overnight at Sumbiling Eco Village made the trip special.  It is possible to daytrip to Ulu Temburong National Park from Bandar Seri Begawan but the Temburong region is very relaxing.

Staying at Sumbiling is like glorified camping without any of the work.  You sleep in not so modest tent cabins that in truth are nothing like tents and instead are awesome.  You are served three great (and healthy) meals per day.  There are several different little adventures like the Ulu Temburong trip, a rainforest trek and a night hike that you can sign up for.  The best part is that you can spend hours just relaxing by the river.

Directions to Sumbiling Eco Village

Sumbiling shouldn’t be confused with a resort though.  The accommodations are basic.  The showers are cold.  The temperatures are cooled by fans.  For some this is the perfect way to see a Borneo rainforest.  Others might need a little more comfort.

Sumbiling Eco Village shouldn’t be confused with an eco village.  Typically the word eco village means a self sustainable farming community that produces much of their own food and consumes very little resources such as electricity.  At Sumbiling it is a combination of eco tourism and a place to stay during that trip.  They have been doing several things to reduce the impact of their business.  They supply filtered water and encourage tourists to bring their own water bottle.  They attempt to buy locally grown food.  They use a lot of locally harvested bamboo for building structures (when possible).  In addition to that tourists aren’t supplied with AC or hot water for showers greatly lowering the natural gas and electrical consumption.  It’s not zero impact but they have done a lot to reduce the impact of their business in a beautiful place.

One of the many great meals.  Larger groups can order bamboo chicken (not pictured).  The chicken is cooked using a traditional Iban (native) method.  The chicken is put into a section of bamboo with herbs and they seal the top with tapioca leaves.  The bamboo tube is then put next to a fire and the chicken is cooked inside the pressurized tube.  Here is a blog with more information on the cooking method.

The van drops you off at the local Iban community and it is a 5 minute walk to the camp.

Here is the tent cabin.  There are only two of them so larger groups might need to sleep in a traditional tent.  There are also some basic rooms available.

They were building a tree house while I was there.

One of the villagers fishing

The Kaohsiung Skyline

The overwhelming reason that I chose my apartment was the view of Kaohsiung.  I am very happy with the rest of my apartment but I still love the view.  I have a completely unblocked 180 degree view with the Pingdong mountains to the east, the 85 building to the south and Monkey Mountain to the west.  During the summer the air pollution (it’s bad) blows away and there are spectacular views of the city.  The only bad thing is that I typically am teaching during the evening and miss the sunset.  Here are the views from various times during the summer.

Sunrise to the east

The eastern view in the late afternoon

The blue hour

A common view to the south

Another common view to the south.

Kaohsiung gets 2 meters of rain each year.  Almost all of the rain falls between May-September.  The remainder of the year is a drought.

I think this is the only rainbow that I remember during my 5 years in Taiwan


Sadly summer is ending and the air pollution will return stealing the sunsets.

Photo of the week #45 – The Dragon Sunset

There are many reasons why Kaohsiung is a great place to live.  One of the biggest drawbacks to living here is the winter air pollution.  Starting as early as September every year a smoggy overcast fills the sky until the following May.  Everyone agrees that Taiwan has drastically reduced their pollution levels in the last two decades but considerably more improvement is needed.

Saturday was one of those rare winter days when all of the pollution blows away and we are left beautiful blue skies filled with puffy white clouds.  To take advantage of this I bicycled to the Secret Beach at Jhongshan University once again.  Initially my attempt to access the beach was thwarted by a new 4 meter fence with razor wire on top but the other entrance is still accessible making the Secret Beach a little more secret again.

The Dragon Sunset

Nick Kembel has started a new facebook group to share blogs about Taiwan and the group hosted a blog of the year contest.  About a dozen bloggers entered including myself with topics varying from raising your foreign child in Taiwan, setting up a photoshoot, dating in Taiwan and of course several travel blogs.  My Nenggao blog was voted one of the best by the group and I received an autographed copy of Nick Kembel’s ‘Taiwan – in the eyes of foreigner’ book adding to my small collection of expat books.  Of course I flipped through a couple of chapters while waiting for the Dragon Sunset at the Secret Beach.

Everyone has probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging much this year.  Instead of traveling I have been rewriting the curriculum for 15 classes of students.  I think it’s finally starting to wind down but there are still an endless number of little projects to do.  This is a photo with 3 classes of our younger students from our Christmas party.  Shortly after this photo was taken I learned that we need to keep a very close eye on the boy in the striped shirt.