Proximity to orangutans is one of the primary reasons Diane and I chose Malaysia as our destination for early retirement. Among the most fascinating animals on earth, their quickly diminishing natural habitat lies in small swaths of the Sabah province in Malaysian Borneo, about a two-hour plane ride from Penang. Volunteer opportunities involving orangutan conservation always piqued our interest so we dedicated our annual Expat Destination Research Vacation to orangutan encounters in the wild, Excursions to The Borneo Rainforest Lodge and The Kinabatangan River Valley did not disappoint, providing several amazing sightings and educating us immensely about habitat destruction.
Needing some R&R after trekking through the jungle, we needed a little pampering and a couple of good night’s sleep before continuing to Singapore. Normally we’re prudent travelers but early retirement still seemed distant since I had no vision of being laid off, so we investigated a more luxurious option and discovered even the world’s best hotel chains have an undiscovered hidden gem. Along with the beauty of The Rasa Ria Resort Resort, one last adventure with orangutans on the resort’s private reserve solidified the entire experience.