We were greeted with flower leis and led to a sitting area with cool lemongrass scented cloths and a deliciously refreshing lemongrass and ginger drink. A young lady gave us a description of the lodge and activities we would be partaking in and then introduced us to our guide, Dean. She then led us to our room where our luggage had already been taken.
We later found out that we were staying in an identical room to where Prince William and Princess Kate stayed on their trip here last fall and we had the same guide they had! Anyway, this lodge makes one feel like royalty with the beautiful rooms and decor, the service of meals and the general way they treat their guests. Although we felt a little out of place here - not the typical hotel or hostel that we have been frequenting on our trip, it was an amazing two night experience!
Following lunch and a siesta, we were led into the rainforest by Dean. Through a short conversation with us, he discovered what we had seen in Tabin and Jim's ultimate wish to spot a wild Orang Utan. Within minutes Dean was on his radio with other guides and found where some Orang Utans had been spotted earlier. He led us across some bridges
and we walked for about half an hour. Along the way Caleb purposely tried to attract leeches as he read that if you "donate" blood to a tiger leech, the lodge will give you a certificate. And he did succeed. We all were leeched in Danum Valley but only Caleb actually wanted the leeches to suck on him! Many guides and tourists wear leech socks (similar to "gators" that we would wear hiking back home) to prevent the leeches from slinking their way up your leg. We braved the forest without such accessories with minimal blood letting.
Before long we came to a rustling tree and Dean pointed out the Orang Utans! There were three altogether. A mother with a small baby and it's older sibling. They were quite high up, but were moving around a lot so we were able to get some good glimpses of their faces.
They were studying us as much as we were observing them! In fact they were a little upset at our presence and after about ten minutes they started throwing loose branches down at us. A branch the size of a small log came hurtling down at Jim, narrowly missing him! We only stayed a little while longer after that.
After being served like celebrities at dinner we took a night drive with some other guests. We were lucky enough to see two different flying squirrels glide through the air and a a flying lemur. I have no idea how Dean could differentiate the two in the dark, but we trust his expertise! We were hoping to see a cloud leopard, but no luck. The following night the group on the night drive saw quite a large one!
The next day was our long hike day - although only seven kilometres in total, a lot of it was uphill to the lookout and in the Borneo rainforest you are soaking wet with sweat before you even leave the lodge! We hiked up a ridge filled with the most beautiful trees until we came upon the lookout.
Two Rhinoceros Hornbills were waiting for us and we saw them take off and glide to the trees down below in the valley.
We had a bit of a rest, and the boys a bit of candy incentive before we hiked a bit more to the Fairy Falls. Then back out to the main trail to the burial cliff of the Kadazan-Dusun people that lived in the valley over 300 years ago. They used iron wood coffins and carried them up to the cliffs to get their loved ones closer to god.
After looking at the remains on the cliff we hiked back down the trail to the Jacuzzi Pool - a small pond on the way back to the lodge. We stopped here for a swim - and a little flesh cleaning provided by the little skin sucker fish that live in the pond. They were hungry! The minute we put our feet in the water we were swarmed by 50-100 of the six inch fish! They tickle quite a bit and I couldn't stand much of it, but the boys loved it! They had contests to see who could keep their feet in the longest and pulled limbs in and out of the water teasing the poor fish.
After lunch and siesta we were treated to a show of Macaques on the grass off the deck of our lodge. There were many of them, big and little who were finding lots to eat on a bush close by.
Later we went tubing down the river with a few of the staff from the lodge. The water was warm like a bathtub and only occassionally did we have to lift up our bottoms to avoid bumps from rocks. We had a good play and splash in the river afterwards.
After a night walk with many insect sightings and a few snakes we tucked ourselves in for a well deserved rest. The following morning we made a quick escape to the canopy. Along the way we were lucky enough to spot another Orang Utan and baby. We had fun walking across the bridges and saw a huge bee hive that only develops every few years when there is a outbreak of a particular flower bloom that infrequently occurs.
After lunch the boys ran into a snake on the boardwalk that came to wish us farewell. Then we were driven the long way back on the gravel road to Lahad Datu to meet with our next driver who would take us to the Kinabatangan River.
We were dropped off in Lahad Datu at the office of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge where we filled in some paper work and a driver whisked us out of the city. Along the way we only passed one check stop left over from the "Lahad Datu Incident", which was waving most cars through. The road to the lodge was long and windy, half way through turning into the bumpy gravel road we were familiar with from Tabin. Driving on gravel roads for two and a half hours in a van is not very comfortable! We passed a few houses and signs for churches - although over half of Malaysians are Muslim, there are a number of Catholic Churches in the countryside. Then we entered the conservation area and huge trees started appearing as we drove deeper into the rainforest. Every once in a while we passed signs written in Malay and English that had years that the forest had been replanted. This part of Borneo had been cleared for logging and recently, beginning in the 1990's had started to be reclaimed. The growth of the trees was amazing considering they had not been replanted that long ago. The lodge itself is situated in Primary forest that had not been logged and when we drove up to the front entry it seemed like we had landed in the lap of luxury!