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Archive for borneo

Ancient Sovereignty in Southeast Asia

By Linda Tancs

One of the most ancient sovereign states in Southeast Asia (dating as far back as the 5th century), Brunei Darussalam is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo bordered by the South China Sea. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is home to the opulent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque and its 29 golden domes, one for each of the nation’s 29 sultan rulers. The capital’s massive Istana Nurul Iman palace is the residence of Brunei’s ruling sultan, a dwelling recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest living residence of a head of state. Despite its grandiose accoutrements, Brunei is a quieter alternative to other oil-rich countries like Dubai. It features the unpretentious water village Kampong Ayer, pristine beaches and a biodiverse rainforest.

Island Life Increases in Borneo

By Linda Tancs

Conservationist group WWF has reported the discovery of new species in Borneo, the world’s third largest island. The newest inhabitants include a lungless frog, a flying amphibian and a slug that shoots love darts. Cupid, you’ve met your match. In the past three years, 123 species of plant and animal have been discovered in this Southeast Asian island paradise about the size of Texas. In particular, there are 66 new plant species, 17 fish, 5 frogs, 3 snakes, 29 invertebrates, 2 lizards and a bird sharing space in what Charles Darwin described as “one great luxuriant hothouse made by nature for herself.” In an effort to prevent overcrowding, efforts are underway to protect 85,000 square miles of rainforest. You can bet at least one frog gives a flying leap about that.



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Frogs and Flowers

By Linda Tancs

Gunung Gading National Park in Borneo sports two interesting attributes: frogs and flowers. Its amphibious distinction owes to what some might describe as an other-worldly population of frogs. Considering the folk wisdom that the presence or absence of frogs is a barometer of environmental health, this can only signal good things. Its floral fame arises from its status as the home of the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia tuan-mudae. At full bloom this giant flower streches nearly one meter in width. The catch, of course, is to find it in bloom, an infrequent and short-lived event. Don’t let that stop you from exploring this national treasure southwest of Sarawak. From the peak of Mount Gading you can make like Lewis and Clark and survey all the flora and fauna the region has to offer.

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