Category: Borneo, Indonesia, 2017

Seoul Work, and on to Borneo

May 20. Today is the long haul from San Francisco to Borneo, with a stop in Seoul, South Korea. The Seoul leg is about 12 1/2 hours and we’re traveling business class, using miles. These long air trips are a price one pays for getting to the remote places we choose to visit. They’re well worth it and, to the extent it’s possible, we’re used to them.

What does one do for12 1/2 hours, other than eat and drink?  Read a thought-provoking book called FALLING UPWARD, by a Franciscan minister named Richard Rohr, about the tasks of the two halves of our lives.  At almost 75, thinking about a “second half” seems a bit optimistic, but there are certainly thoughts to be taken away.  Also watched a movie called Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, based on a terrific novel with the same title.  Movie did a good, faithful job with the book.  Saw a piece on the art of comedy, which went on a bit long, but was interesting enough.  And, of course, some blogging.

As we have a 5- hour layover in Seoul, we looked into taking a short tour from the airport, but concluded that that would not work. We were unable to check bags through from San Francisco to Borneo, so we have to go through customs, fill out forms, search for Air Seoul, our next airline.  Fortunately we have lots of time.

This may be an appropriate place to tell you something about our travel companions and good friends, Michael and Valerie Lewis, shown here at the San Francisco airport.

Michael is a Brandeis classmate of ours, an orthopedic surgeon and an accomplished photographer and tennis player. He is able to work the fact that he was orthopedist for the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era seamlessly into any conversation, as in, “Oh, it looks a bit cloudy out. That reminds me of the time when it was a bit cloudy when I was the doctor for the Bulls, when Michael Jordan was playing.”
Michael has been very helpful to me in my development as a photographer, and saved Carol and me countless hours in guiding us through the steps of producing our two books of photography and poetry, based on his experience in producing a beautiful book of his own photography. He’s been off of photography for many years, but purchased roughly $300,000 of new equipment (weighing approximately as much as an adult orangutan) in preparation for this trip. This blog will not feature Michael’s photographs (I’m nothing if not competitive).
Michael is best known for his mother, Beadie, a totally remarkable lady whose 100th birthday Carol and I were privileged to celebrate earlier this year in a Houston.
Valerie requires little space to describe, as she’s just fabulous in every way. A Brit, who traveled the world solo as a young woman, she is an accomplished birder, among many, many other accomplishments. Her most remarkable achievement is having put up with Michael for some 42 years of marriage.
We have been close friends of the Lewises since approximately the time we learned to talk. We traveled with them to Alaska and later went dogsledding with them in Wyoming some 20 or so years ago and now feel that we’ve recovered from those experiences sufficiently to give it another go. We’ll see.
The second leg of our long plane trip will be a short five hours. We will land in Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of the state of Sabah with a population of 400,000. This city has a beautiful setting right on the South China Sea with the backdrop of Mt. Kinabalu, which at 13,455 feet, is the highest peak in SE Asia. As it was completely bombed during World War II, it is a very new city. Kota Kinabula provides easy access to the nature sites to which we will be traveling.
If all goes well, we’ll be met at the airport, and driven north about 45 minutes to our resort on Pantai Dalit Beach, the Shangri-La Rasa Ria, set amidst a nature reserve, surrounded by 400 acres of tropical forest.  And then, we hope to settle into our rooms for a well deserved night’s rest.

I’m posting this now, because I have wifi in the Seoul airport.  Not sure what we’ll find wifi-wise in Borneo, so if there are some gaps, that will be the reason.

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