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Six Cool and Creepy Things You Can See on a Trip to the Rainforests of Borneo

February 4, 2014 at 2:08 PM | by | ()

Although it is slowly developing from a small town to a small city as far as opportunity and entertainment go, Kuching's best quality hands down is its proximity to the island's national parks and rainforests. With approximately a half dozen parks within a two-hour drive, getting out into the natural world that surrounds the city is a must, as it is there that you will experience what makes Borneo, the home of one of the world's biggest rainforests, so special.

The Largest Flower in the World

The Rafflesia arnoldii is the largest individual flower on the planet, measuring in with a diameter up to 3 feet and weighing up to 20 lbs. It's pretty at first glance, but its fowl odor (rotting flesh) and parasitic nature quickly squash the fairy tale. Still, it's a special thing when you see it, as the flower blooms and withers within a matter of days. Your best chance to see it is at Gunung Gading National Park.

Pitcher Plants

This carnivorous plant uses a sugary nectar to attract and trap its prey, which include small moths, flies, wasps, and grasshoppers (other animals, such as tadpoles and mosquitoes, use the pitcher as a breeding ground). Monkeys have been seen drinking the water collected in the pitchers after it rains, which has earned them the nickname of "Monkey Cups." A look at the photo above and the plant's ability to blend into the jungle floor sheds additional light on why it is so successful in trapping unsuspecting prey. There are ten species of pitcher plants in Kubah National Park.


Orangutans make their home in the Borneo rainforests, and you can see them living in the tree tops all across the island. If you're on limited time, though, you can visit the Semenggoh Nature and Wildlife Center where they undergo rehabilitation.

Pythons and Black Cobras

Watch your step when you're hiking throughout Borneo, as the jungles are home to two intimidating types of snakes: The python and the black cobra. It is not uncommon for locals to eat the former, and if you're feeling adventurous, you can find it at local markets in and around Kuching.

Rare Palm Trees

The Ekor buaya palm looks somewhat like a crocodile tail as it grows directly upwards at a slight angle. This corrugated leaf is light and tough, and it has traditionally been used as a roof-building material by jungle tribes. What makes it special is that it is only found on Borneo near Kuching, and it grows in one very specific location in Kubah National Park along the Selang Trail.

Human Skulls

Head hunting -- the act of ambushing and beheading -- was widely practiced by tribes across Borneo up until the 20th century, and, believe it or not, might still be practiced in some remote areas today (which is why you should always use a guide when exploring the jungles of Borneo). The ritual violence was part of a "growing process" for young men of the tribe, and the heads were usually hung or displayed on sticks to ward off evil spirits. Look for old skulls when visiting traditional longhouses.

[Photos: Southern Illnois University, Will McGough, Go Asia, Flickr, Will McGough, Lost Intentions]

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