164 pages, 23 colour & 63 b/w illustrations, 1 colour map
The Enchanted Gardens of Kinabalu: A Borneo Diary is a lifetime’s journey of discovery through the natural wonders of Borneo – from the ancient coral reefs and cycads of the sea-shore, the excitement of discovery of the gigantic Rafflesia flower in the dim rainforest or a previously unknown frogmouth on its nest in the mountain cloud forest, the joy of seeing a rare spiderhunter at rhododendron flowers or a flock of hornbills magically appearing out of the mist, the delight of exploring the rainforest in flower and of finding pitcher-plants and orchids in secluded groves, to the discovery of tiny alpine flowers on the peaks of Mt. Kinabalu – Bomeo’s highest mountain.
The book, based on the author’s diaries, is beautifully illustrated by her own water-colour paintings and delicate line drawings, and with its vivid impressions of plant and animal life describes a world that is fast disappearing. It is a personal and evocative account of one of the world’s last great wildernesses, and of one of the richest and most complex habitats on earth.
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Susan M. Phillipps studied French and Chinese at Oxford, afterwards working for the United Nations, with which she went out to China just after the war. On the way she met her future husband, A.E. Phillipps, who was on his way back to Borneo, where he had been imprisoned during the war. They were married in Hongkong and went down to Sandakan on the east coast of Sabah in September 1946.
It was at this time that Susan started her diaries, which she continues to this day, noting down the birds and plants around her home. 10 years later, the family, now with six children, moved to Tuaran Rubber Estate on the west coast, and in 1963, to Kota Kinabalu where Susan still lives.
Susan’s husband died in 1974 and as her children grew up she began to explore further and to write more about the wildlife and natural history as she saw it, as well as to draw and paint the plants and flowers she found, developing a growing interest that finally led to the publication of her stories and paintings in this book.