Among the Clouds

See that shiny lit­tle speck down there?”

I asked my sis­ter, point­ing at an arbi­trary point in an end­less mass of tree canopies as we looked out into South­west Kalimantan.

Kalimantan Border Lookout

Kali­man­tan Bor­der Look­out — View from 3,281 feet

That lit­tle speck is gonna grow big­ger,” I made a soft whizzing sound as my fin­gers por­tray a rapidly approach­ing metal­lic object, “Whizzzz.. Arrrgg!” I poke myself in the neck, tongue out, in great pain — imi­tat­ing get­ting hit by an arrow.

As I fall thud on the ground,” I con­tin­ued “You’ll hear drums from afar. ‘Dum… dum.. dum.. dum..’ and the wail­ing of cel­e­bra­tive tribesmen.”

I glanced over expect­ing to see a very ter­ri­fied sis­ter, only to be greeted by a set of eyes rolling almost out of their sock­ets. “Yeah, right!”

The South­west Kali­man­tan Bor­der Look­out point was by far the best view I’ve seen all my life (pho­tos won’t do any jus­tice) and the best part of our 3-day Bor­neo High­lands trip.

Garden In The Sky - Borneo Highlands Resort

Gar­den in the Sky — 3-exposure HDR

When it was appar­ent that the rain wouldn’t stop three days into the Chi­nese New Year, we thought it’d be a good idea to flee to the moun­tains before all of Kuch­ing gets sub­merged under ten feet of water. The near­est high­lands we could reach were the Bor­neo High­lands, sit­ting more than 1,000 feet atop the Pen­ris­sen Range, an hour and a half’s drive away where no flood could reach us. Safe.

The Path - Borneo Highlands Resort

The Path

Okay, that was obvi­ously a joke. We pre-booked our room but seri­ously it was rain­ing so hard it made the trip up in steep, wet roads rather scary.

A lot of friends were rather skep­ti­cal of our trip up though, warn­ings of the lack of things to do since ‘there’s noth­ing up there but flow­ers’, and ‘you’ll only find your­self chas­ing but­ter­flies’ were in abun­dance. The fact that so many peo­ple had so much to say of that place also meant one thing — everyone’s been up there except us.

Warn­ing: Large post laden with tonnes of amaz­ing imagery ahead.

Jungle Cabins - Borneo Highlands Resort

Jun­gle Cabins

We didn’t think it would rain that hard when it rained for a good two out of the three days we spent there, forc­ing us to stay indoors. For­tu­nately the Jun­gle Cabin where we stayed had a large shaded bal­cony that allowed us to still savour the sur­round­ings despite the rain.

So we spent time watch­ing TV, movies on the lap­top (The Curi­ous Case of Ben­jamin But­ton, any­one? Bloody good movie!), take naps, and meals. Stuff we wouldn’t have done as a fam­ily back home. And when our chirpy lit­tle neigh­bour­hood friend decides to make a visit, Dad and I would rush out, cam­era in hand and snap away. I’ve never had a prob­lem with my kit lens until I realised I couldn’t zoom in enough to shoot a freak­ing bird!

But I’m not really into bird spot­ting any­way so a tele­photo could wait.

Bird - Borneo Highlands Resort

Birdie Vis­its — Cropped photo

The sky proved it still had mercy when it stopped rain­ing on the evening of the sec­ond day — not until there was only a few hours of day­light left though. We headed out imme­di­ately for a walk to a plateau nearby.

One Step at a Time - Borneo Highlands Resort

One Step at a Time

The air had a fresh after-rain scent, and was cool à la Cameron High­lands or Kun­dasang Val­ley if you’ve been to either one. The clear­ing mist sur­round­ing the land­scape around us added to that mys­tique feel. There’s noth­ing like nature I’d say.

Long exposure shot of a waterfall - Borneo Highlands Resort

Long expo­sure shot of a waterfall

Two rivers run down along the two sides of the plateau, com­plete with water­falls and hang­ing bridges, all in their after-rain full of gush­ing water glory. I took the chance to try out long-exposure shots of water — kind of like those smooth feathery-like pho­tos of rivers and water­falls you see in poster calendars.

Long exposure shot of a waterfall 2 - Borneo Highlands Resort

Smooth­ing water over time.

Although those that I took were far from end­ing up any­where near posters. It is one tick off my list of dSLR pho­tog­ra­phy technique’s to-do list though.

Pines Up Close - Borneo Highlands Resort

Pines Up Close

Any­way, on the morn­ing of the 3rd day, we signed up for the Kali­man­tan Bor­der View­point tour for which you have to pay an extra of 40 bucks per head. The weather was good — it had to be — so Dad thought why not? We were taken to the bor­der view­point first, which was where the first photo above was taken.

At the Nursery - Borneo Highlands Resort

Mom and Sis at the Nurs­ery. That’s a Semi-pro Canon dSLR hang­ing off that guy’s shoul­der. XP

The sec­ond stop was the Resort nurs­ery which had this huge col­lec­tion of annual plants.

At the Nursery - Borneo Highlands Resort

At the Nursery

After quite some time at the nurs­ery where Dad bought a few plants, we were dropped at the final stop — a gar­den right above the plateau we explored to a day earlier.

At the Nursery - Borneo Highlands Resort

Sis with hang­ing flowers

I know my sis is poor in her poses, no need to tell me that. xP

White flower- Borneo Highlands Resort


I found out that there aren’t just flow­ers in Bor­neo High­lands, con­trary to what everyone’s been say­ing. It’s so much more. I mean, there’s the breath­tak­ing Kali­man­tan Bor­der View­point with a view to die for; some flow­ers, yes; a heav­enly gar­den right above a well-landscaped plateau with flow­ers — lots of ‘em; a huge nurs­ery of uh, flow­ers; swan lakes; flow­ers; water­falls; flow­ers; a golf course and many more flow­ers. And did I men­tion there were flow­ers up there?

White flower- Borneo Highlands Resort

I had a flash­back of a scene from the Bee Movie when I took this shot.

Seri­ously though, what else did you expect? =P

It was def­i­nitely more than a giant flower exhi­bi­tion in the clouds. For those of you who haven’t made a trip up yet I’d def­i­nitely rec­om­mend you to.

As for me, I spent a really great time up there with my fam­ily. Not to men­tion three days in a photographer’s heaven! =D The pho­tos shown here are really a small frac­tion of a those I took within 3 days — some 3.4GBs worth. Don’t worry, I’ll try to get some of them up on Flickr or Facebook.

Whew! Finally man­aged to get myself to com­plete this long-overdue mam­moth of a post. More than enough to show how big of a pro­cras­ti­na­tor I am.

by shenghan in Happenings, Life on 8th February, 2009 at 9pm, Sunday, February 8th, 2009 09:34 pm GMT +8


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  1. wying said

    i love those pho­tos. x)
    espe­cially birdie vis­its, long expo­sure of water­fall (kinda get used to it already, doesn’t look much like cot­ton wool any­more lol.)
    and the one with your sis pos­ing, seri­ously i LIKE that.
    did you just men­tion ‘The Curi­ous Case of Ben­jamin But­ton’? I just watched the mak­ing of the movie. Unusual plot. I wanna watch it. x)

    • ember said

      Glad you do! I’m sur­prised that you haven’t come across those kind of pho­tos though. And yeah, I like that photo of my sis too! =D

      Ben­jamin But­ton is def­i­nitely highly rec­om­mended. Very unique sto­ry­line but the least you know about the story before you watch, the better.

  2. Joyce said

    very very stun­ning scenes…ooooh i wanna be there tooo . u hv to post more pics dude. love ur cam­era xD

    • ember said

      You should soo go up there Joycy! =D I’ll try to post more up on Face­book. Remem­ber to bug me if I don’t! xP

      • Joyce said


        • ember said

          Joycy you bugger!

          And you do not get to call me a boy. *whack* =P

  3. I’m sit­ting here won­der­ing exactly what I’m doing with the fam­ily cam­era, while you shoot BLOODY AWESOME THINGS!



    • ember said

      I was just at the right place, that’s all. I mean, Bor­neo High­lands is so beau­ti­ful its hard to get a bad shot, hah!

      Glad you liked them though! =D

  4. angel said

    i saw a princess with hang­ing flow­ers! =) nice pose though. Bor­neo High­lands is a nice place! back to mother nature.

    • ember said

      Hehe yeap, nice place! I’d save you the how-nice-it-is chant­ing though — shu yi would do that for me. xP

  5. teddY said

    Wow, really lovely pho­tos from your high­land trip! I’ve received the same com­ments from friends who heard that I was head­ing to Cameron High­lands back then — they told me that what I will see are straw­ber­ries, tea leaves and more straw­ber­ries, more tea leaves. But what really draws me to such places is the escape from the hec­tic lifestyle of the city and fully leap­ing into the embrace of Mother Nature.

    I really love all the pho­tos you’ve posted here — from the HDR to the birdie visit, as well as the long expo­sure of the water­falls. I’m won­der­ing if you’re using any sort of neu­tral den­sity fil­ter for the water­fall pho­tos? I’ve tried to sim­u­late such an effect in the past and the photo turned out to be over­ex­posed, so I got myself a ND 0.8 fil­ter just in case I needed it in the future, heh.

    • ember said

      Thank you! Exactly, Teddy! And not to men­tion a pho­to­graphic oppor­tu­nity to pho­to­graph nature. Cameron High­lands is really a nice place, I’ve actu­ally been there twice. =D

      Nope, I haven’t acquired any fil­ters or any other acces­sories as of yet. So you can expect all the pho­tos I’ve taken at the moment are with­out acces­sories, heh. The water­fall pho­tos were slightly over­ex­posed before I dark­ened them a bit, but no too much per­haps because it was a cloudy day and thus, you get to enjoy dimmed and dif­fused light. =)

      Will keep in mind about a nat­ural den­sity fil­ter though!

  6. Lisa said

    Very nice shots you took! I also have the long expo­sure of water on my to do list, can’t wait to try it! Sounds like you did have a good time, and I would so love to go there! If not just for the flow­ers to take pic­tures of :p
    Really like your writ­ing btw. :)

    • ember said

      Thank you! Yeah, I’ve been want­ing to do that for­ever too, hah! You bet I did have a great time. =D

      You sound like you should really need a trip up to Bor­neo Highlands!

  7. Patrick said

    Well done, very nice pho­tos.. love the green shorts and espe­cially the one with the dark gloomy sky and the bright red flow­ers.. very good contrast..

    • ember said

      Thank you Patrick! Glad you liked them.

      That photo with the dark gloomy sky and bright red flow­ers in the fore­ground is actu­ally a HDR image. A nor­mal shot wouldn’t have cap­tured the con­trast of both the fore­ground and the background. =)

      • Patrick said

        I thought you have a fil­ter on for it.. but def­i­nitely the HDR is the best option for vibrant pic­ture with the amount of light available.

        • ember said

          I still haven’t really under­stood fil­ters actu­ally, so I’m cur­rently not into them yet. You’re right about HDR though! =D

  8. May said

    I know this is a REALLY late com­ment, but I’m not here to say any­thing about your post. You’re one of the best pho­tog­ra­phers I know per­son­ally, and I thought you’d be inter­ested in this :

    =) The author of that blog is another friend of mine, by the way.

    • ember said

      Inter­est­ing indeed! Not sure if my pho­tos are really good enough for an exhi­bi­tion though. (See, I still got that humil­ity page in my dic­tio­nary. XD ) I’ll see which photo I could dig up from my col­lec­tion wor­thy of that. =)

  9. I like that clouds. I have look­ing beau­ti­ful clouds in Aus­trian Apls, between Salzburg and Vienna. It was really nice sky show!:)

    • ember said

      Glad you liked it. I’ve actu­ally seen the Aus­trian Alps! It was a long time ago but as far as I can remem­ber they’re so much more heav­enly that the ones we have here. We’re talk­ing about an end­less hori­zon of snow capped mountains!

      I would die to go back there again that’s for sure. =D

  10. yingzi said

    ehhh quite nice for tak­ing those plant..
    but the water, i mean the water­fall la
    quite fake !!!


    • ember said

      Eh copy Wying punya com­ment. Say the same thing LOL.

      First time shoot­ing long expo­sures of water­falls lar. =D

  11. vee said

    what is the name of the white flower the one with no bee inside the flower? heheh the flower is go charm­ing ..i dont know y…it caught my eyes

    • shenghan said

      I used to know that flower’s name! But now I just can’t recall. You see, my dad used to be keen in hor­ti­cul­ture so he told us a lot of names of flow­ers we’d see along the way when we were young.

      Sorry i can’t help!