Photo Friday: Brunei River, Brunei

I sort of can’t believe it’s been 28 months since I returned from my honeymoon in Asia, and I’m just now telling you about the proboscis monkeys. But first, let’s rewind.

Proboscis Monkeys in Brunei

How did we end up in Brunei? That’s a good question. Once we settled on Borneo as our honeymoon destination, and one week turned into two weeks turned into three, we decided since we were already in the area, we might as well go to Brunei. The question isn’t so much why? as why not?

Proboscis Monkeys in Brunei

The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, was fine but after a day of wandering around, we had run out of things to do.

Honeymooning in Brunei

At this point, we had been on Borneo for 17 days, watched orangutans play, swam with turtles, been swept away by torpedoes of barracuda, bitten by triggerfish—but not seen the island’s most famed inhabitants: the proboscis monkeys.

So we did what any respectable tourist would do and we headed to the waterfront. The fastest water taxi who reached us, we asked: “how much to see monkeys?” Since he didn’t understand English, we then had to act it out. (Envision me hootin’ and hollerin’ and scratchin’ under my armpits like a primate, then mimickin’ the monkeys’ long noses.)

Proboscis Monkeys in Brunei
Proboscis Monkeys in Brunei
Proboscis Monkeys in Brunei

That was his “a-ha!” moment as he nodded in acknowledgement, beckoned us to get in his taxi and sped off.

We boarded the taxi in the center of the town, but not three minutes down the river, the landscape began to change dramatically.

In search of proboscis monkeys: Floating down the river in Brunei

We took a fork in the river, and suddenly, there was no one around. Was this such a good idea? You do hear about Americans disappearing down rivers in Brunei while searching for proboscis monkeys all the time in the media, after all.

Proboscis Monkeys in Brunei

I readied my camera anyway. Since my nicer Canon zoom lens had been stolen in South Africa months before, I just had a cheapie model that only focused in the stillest of circumstances. So it was my luck that as I was pulling out my equipment, we saw our first suspect—and I wasn’t quick enough to capture his face.

Proboscis Monkeys in Brunei
Proboscis Monkeys in Brunei

The proboscis monkeys are extremely shy, and I worried that I had missed my one shot at photographing these suckers. After all, surely he alerted his mates in the jungle that tourists were approaching and that they should abandon ship, right?

Yet, we rounded another river bend, and there was a whole cluster of monkeys far, far up in the tree, including a mama hauling her baby around on her back.
Proboscis Monkeys in Brunei

If you’ll allow me to be candid for a moment, “proboscis” is just far too hard to say, so SVV and I simply refer to these guys as “the penis-faced monkeys.” I mean, “proboscis” does mean, literally, “an elongated appendage from the head of an animal.” Though the noses weren’t the only elongated things about them. (Tails, people! I’m talking about tails. Get your minds out of the gutter.)

And that was probably my favorite thing about Brunei: the fact that we could approach a water taxi driver who didn’t speak a lick of English, act like a penis-faced monkey, and 10 minutes and $10 (including tip) later, he would deliver the very thing we had looked for the past few weeks.

  • October 13, 2012

    Those unplanned for side trips could be the best part about travel.
    Gaelyn recently posted..Finding Illinois farmlandsMy Profile

  • October 13, 2012

    I saw these guys om Borneo at Labuk Bay, they have a semi wild sanctuary set up for them on protected land and they put food out for them everyday so you get to see them really up close it’s great!

    • October 15, 2012

      That’s awesome–that’s how we saw orangutans in Rasa Ria, as well. Though I do think it’s really fun to have to find them in the wild yourself–makes it much more of an adventure!

  • October 14, 2012

    Bwahaha I would have loved to be sitting on the riverbank watching you guys mime monkey’s. Glad he figured out what you meant and you got to see them.
    Tracy recently posted..New Zealand Road Trip: ShantytownMy Profile

    • October 15, 2012

      I have a theory that the water taxi drivers do actually speak English but prefer to pretend they don’t so they can be entertained by tourists’ miming skills.

  • October 15, 2012

    Oh the long nose monkey! I recently saw them in Borneo (Indonesia) for the first time! :) They looks so humanlike!

    • October 15, 2012

      We didn’t make it to Indonesian Borneo–just Sabah and Brunei. Did you love it there?

  • October 15, 2012

    Haha I just put up a post about them as well! And obviously I bought two postcards with them to send to my friends… I felt very mature.

  • October 15, 2012

    I agree with Gaelyn that these unexpected side trips are what make travel so much fun.
    Pete recently posted..Travel on the RadioMy Profile

  • October 15, 2012

    This is awesome. No pictures of the acting-out-a-monkey antics though?
    Ris recently posted..Book Review: Beautiful LiesMy Profile

  • October 15, 2012

    thank God for you doing blast from the past posts now. there are so many adventures i am still waiting to see & read about : ) kind of hard to believe there you “ran” out of things to do…but i believe it (that happened to me in Montevideo, Uruguay). worst case scenario, start jumpin’! SVV might get tired though but i know you won’t

  • October 15, 2012

    What a fun little day trip! I’m a sucker for monkeys, and for Southeast Asia in general. Maybe I’ll put Brunei on the list for my upcoming trip!
    Alex recently posted..Photo of the Week 70My Profile

  • October 15, 2012

    Never made it to Brunei but I did make it Borneo. Still didn’t get to see any monkey penis though. :)
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Offbeat Images: Toilet Signs in OmanMy Profile

  • October 15, 2012

    There is nothing about this adventure I don’t love, but by far my favorite part is the mental image of you doing your monkey dance I hope you brought that little move out for SVV later on…

  • October 16, 2012

    Those monkeys kind of creep me out because their faces look too much like those of little old men. But I love the picture of that temple (?), so it looks like the boat tour is worth the journey anyway.
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Communist Cuba: seeing it for ourselvesMy Profile

  • October 16, 2012

    Girl, your dirty joke is fitting. Check out the rather scandalous missionary photos of some of these monkeys in Borneo.
    Kacie recently posted..Evening Walks in Small Town TexasMy Profile

  • October 16, 2012

    Monkeys are cute until there are too many of them. Then I get freaked. A bunch of them broke into the hut we were staying in in South Africa. It was terrifying.

  • October 17, 2012

    Oh yes – I would be making the same jokes lady.
    Erica recently posted..London on the CheapMy Profile

  • October 17, 2012

    The monkeys are so funny :))))))

  • October 19, 2012

    These are great pictures. The orange fur of the monkeys really pops even though it’s a rusty color.
    Noah recently posted..Sleep No MoreMy Profile

  • October 22, 2012

    The last time I was at the Richmond Metro Zoo, there were some adorable baby primates and I took a ton of photos of them all. I get back, start editing and the cutest most adorable baby monkey was making some great little faces in the photos, but his penis was also fully out on display. Womp womp.
    terra recently posted..Crying on Monday mornings, radio silence, girly bits & the part where I hate this.My Profile

    • October 22, 2012

      I cannot tell you how many animals I’ve photographed “accidentally” with their junk hanging out for all to see—various monkeys, donkeys, beluga whales…and one particularly aggressive cape buffalo who was trying to impregnate his mate while we were on safari in South Africa. I didn’t ever use any of those photos, sadly =)

  • November 7, 2012

    Wow. Brunei is simply beautiful!

  • November 10, 2012

    I saw proboscis monkeys in Sarawak, Borneo, but they disappeared before we could get close enough to get good photos. I think most of my shots are of shaking trees. You got some great ones.
    Michele @ Malaysian Meanders recently posted..Asian Landmarks at LEGOland Malaysia MinilandMy Profile

  • February 13, 2014

    Great post about Brunei! I was there about 3 weeks ago and did many of these things.. And I LOVED those monkeys! Did you get a chance to visit Ulu Temburong National Park? It’s amazing.

    Cheers and Happy Travels :)

    Drew | The Hungry Partier recently posted..6 Sri Lankan Foods to TryMy Profile

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