Borneo, also known as the island in the clouds, is the third largest island in the world. Located south and east of the Malay Peninsula and southwest of the Philippine Islands, Borneo offers both mountains and dense rain forests and is divided into four main political areas – Kalimantan, Sabah and Sarawak and the sultanate of Brunei.
For much of its existence, Borneo has been separated from the world by its remoteness and foreboding landscape. Today, coastal regions are the most populous areas, with a population consisting of non-Muslim Dayaks, Islamic Malays, Europeans and Chinese. The more sparsely populated inland area consists of various native tribes who practice different languages and cultures.
Orangutans are said to be the closest of our living human relatives and some of the most studied creatures on Earth. They’re intelligent and highly sophisticated, living in the lush landscape of Borneo, but venturing into the human world so much so that they’ve adapted some of our habits, such as hitching a ride down the river – just as we take boats. The orangutan are the least studied apes in the wild because they live high in canopy of the rain forest, unlike other apes who are ground dwellers. Tom has tried to find them and says “believe me, it’s hard”.
Tom McLaughlin’s new book, Borneo Tom: Adventures of an Expat in Borneo, Essays & Insights, gives readers a whole new perspective of Southeast Asia and Borneo in particular. The book is all about how one human being from a culture so vastly different from Borneo lives in and loves a new land and its people.
Although the book is filled with humorous accounts of how Tom adapted to his new life in a foreign country, you’ll also learn about Borneo and some of the areas and topics dear to his
heart. The Matang Wildlife Center which lies in the Kubah National Park is one of those areas. It contains 179 hectares of lowland forest – a perfect habitat for orangutans and other wildlife and plant life of every species.
This wild life refuge has become a primary focus for author, Tom McLaughlin. The area offers educational pursuits, research opportunities and a picturesque area where visitors can relax and learn in a setting far beyond a classroom. Some of the proceeds from Tom’s book, Borneo Tom, will go toward the care and feeding of this special place in the world.
Another focus of Tom McLaughlin is his desire to educate others on the culture of those who populate Borneo – mainly, the Muslim population — and the faith of Islam. Tom believes that both the people and the faith have received a bad rap from the mainstream media in the past years. In the book, Tom shares his personal experiences in a humorous and enlightening way.
Borneo is a diverse area with over 15,000 plant species, over 1400 amphibians, birds, fish insects, mammals and reptiles. Even though it’s over 50% forest, Borneo is in danger of deforestation because of cultivation, fires, logging and other problems. Its swampy areas are along a coast edged with mangroves.
Borneo Tom- In Story and Sketch: Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia covers two years in the life of Tom McLaughlin as he forges into a new life in Borneo – a land as diverse as the author’s travels and opinions.