Archive for the ‘borneo’ Category

In pictures: Bako national park

My latest post on Travel Wire Asia, and part of the Tourism Malaysia campaign, featured Bako National Park and some images taken from the Visited Planet database. Bako is in Malaysian Borneo and features the incredible carnivorous pitcher plant, wildlife like the Probiscus and Silver Leaf monkey and amazing walking tracks to waterfalls and beaches.

Here’s an excerpt:

YOU don’t have to go far in Sarawak to find the jungle. In fact you see it from the plane as you descend into the capital Kuching – a tangled green mass stretches out below you, actually covering three quarters of the state in Malaysian Borneo or 8.7 million hectares. Even if you’re not too sure of your maths, rest assured that’s a lot of jungle.

One of the best places to get a taste of this immense jungle and its inhabitants is in the state’s oldest national park, Bako, just a short bus and boat ride from the capital. In fact, there are few places in the world you can be in such a bustling city and within an hour in such intense forest.

Here are some of the images used in the article and a few more from the database.

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Photographing wildlife: the orangutans of Semenggoh

Wildlife photography requires quite a bit of patience, a good lens, plenty of anticipation and above all, luck.

While I do generally photograph people, I have enjoyed photographing wildlife during my travels and while I prefer the chance encounters in the wild, there are some great national parks and wildlife centres in the world that give you a fantastic experience that rates similarly. These are places you can interact with wildlife in a natural environment without enclosures and restrictions for the animals.

The Semenggoh rehabilitation centre in Sarawak is one of these where wild orangutan come daily to feed at the centre to supplement their diet as their natural habitat diminishes. It’s a good measure to keep the orangutans safe and healthy, and tourists like me wanting a close up and personal experience with them.

My photographs and text of this visit were just published on Travel Wire Asia: “Close encounters of the primate kind: visiting the Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre” (part of a publication for Tourism Malaysia).

However here are some more of my images from this visit. To see the full gallery click here.

Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia

Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia Read more

Meeting the Iban of Sarawak

The Iban are one of Malaysia’s ethnic groups and have one of the nation’s most fierce and colourful histories.

They were actually head hunters–yes you read that right–although today they are more likely to take in a paying guest than take their head. Still their liberal tattoos make them a formidable sight. It is possible to stay with these tribes now in their longhouses. You simply need to see the longhouse chief and negotiate with them.

My text and images detailing an experience staying with them were just used in an article on Travel Wire Asia – “Enjoying the hospitality of headhunters in Borneo.” The article was also part of a publication for Tourism Malaysia.

Here are some image highlights from the visit reflecting some of the life in the Rumah Bundong guesthouse near Kapit from work in the fields to the life of children. To see the full gallery click here.

Rumah Bundong longhouse, Kapit, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia

Rumah Bundong longhouse, Kapit, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia Read more

New gallery: Regatta Lepa, Borneo, Malaysia

Boats bedecked with swaying dancers in full costume, heaving markets, nightly cultural performances, lantern parades, fireworks… the Regatta Lepa in Semporna in the state of Saba is a feast of images.

Not entirely sure these do it credit but here’s a small taste, click through to the full gallery of Regatta Lepa.

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Feel free to email Jo at with your comments/thoughts/photo aspirations. See and learn more at

Photographing People

One of the most common questions I am asked is how to approach people for a photograph, particularly in developing countries.

I probably take more portrait photographs than anything else as you can see from my website. Portraits are probably amongst the trickiest photos to get because while it’s easy to get photos of a person it may be less easy to get photos about them. But I think the real question people are asking, is how I approach complete strangers for a photo, perhaps in developing countries where you may feel you are exploiting them.

Of course all of this is easier said than done as we often have to work hard to overcome our shyness or their’s. I usually follow some of the following techniques:

1. Engage the person first. The more time you spend with people they are more likely to allow you to photograph. In aboriginal communities in Australia this is often the case. I’ve spent a bit of time in some Queensland communities where the children are asking you to take photos of them by the end of the week. However there are cultures in which photography maybe taboo or be regarded suspiciously. The important thing is to be sensitive to people and the reactions they have to you and your camera.

Aboriginal kids

2. I keep my camera out in the open and let them have a good look at it. I don’t hide behind bushes or do anything covertly, everything is very upfront so people have the chance to refuse the photography.

3. I warm them up towards a portrait by first photographing them doing something instead of looking directly at the camera. For example I might photograph the hands of a woman sewing or take a wider shot before I move in to photograph her face, like this image of the old grandmother below in Vietnam. The first photo is not great but as she got used to me I moved in closer until I finally took this great portrait.

Sapa, Vietnam

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Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter - Martin Luther King Jr.