Brilliant Borneo

Brilliant Borneo

Students who went on a 10-day adventure to Malaysian Borneo share their experiences and findings

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Nine Hong Kong teenagers learned more about nature - and themselves - during an educational trip to Malaysian Borneo last month.
Nine Hong Kong teenagers learned more about nature - and themselves - during an educational trip to Malaysian Borneo last month.
Photos: Mighty Rovers
The amazing beaches of Thailand or the vibrant city of New York are usually high on holiday destination lists. Malaysian Borneo is not often on the map; but that is exactly where nine teenagers headed last month, and for a very good cause.

The 10-day expedition took the students across the tropical forests and raging rivers of Borneo, where they learned survival skills from locals and met orang-utans at a rescue centre. They did it all to promote environmental conservation among visitors to Ocean Park.

During a four-day trek, the students, who grew up in Hong Kong, faced many challenges. They had to cross suspension bridges and scale vertical slopes; one of the hikes took up to eight hours. They had first-hand experience of the difficulties faced by villagers in their daily lives. For example, they tried catching fish in rivers, starting a fire with sparse materials, and cooking rice in bamboo stems.

For 15-year-old Kwan Sai-ho, there was a painful moment when she was bitten by a leech. "The pain was [bad], but since we were on a steep cliff at that time, I had no other choice but to go on," says the Queen's College student.

Mak Tsz-wai, on the other hand, was almost swept away by the raging currents while crossing a river. Tsz-wai, 15, says the waters swelled up to her chest and, for a few scary moments, her feet didn't touch the bottom of the river. Luckily, some teammates and local porters came to the rescue.

At the Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok, the students learned that the great apes - native to Indonesia and Malaysia - faced grave danger from poaching and habitat loss. Rescued orang-utans receive medical care and are rehabilitated there, before being released into the wild.

"Conservation should go hand in hand with development," says Kwok Hei-man, 15, of King George V School. She believes that ecotourism, such as that practised in Borneo, could be an option for Hong Kong.

Apart from gaining a better understanding about nature, the students also learned more about themselves.

Says So Ka-wai, 17, of Bishop Hall Jubilee School: "After visiting Borneo, I became more mature. I realised that humans are very insignificant compared to nature. I learned that materialistic pleasures are trivial."

The students will share their experiences with visitors to the Rainforest attraction at Ocean Park this month.

The trip was jointly organised by Mighty Rovers - an annual programme run by outdoor activities consultancy Hong Kong Discovery - and Ocean Park.


You might also like:

- Secondary school students are playing a crucial part in supporting the survival of the horseshoe crab, one of the world's oldest creatures.

- Snorkelling inside Ocean Park's Grand Aquarium

- Mainland and Hong Kong scientists are exploring the bottom of the South China Sea to uncover its strange life forms

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