Orangutan Time

Trip Start Jan 21, 2007
Trip End ??? ??, 2008

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Thursday, October 4, 2007

Woke up in the morning and couldn't move.  Talk about stiff muscles?  We're all walking like people with some kind of disability and are going down steps sideways as if we're 90 years old.  It's not funny and it's making doing anything at all an unattractive prospect!  After getting up super early at Poring Hot Springs and making a quick visit to the canopy walkway (suspended 44m above ground) it was onto the bus to Sandakan.  The main reason for coming here is to visit the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre at Sepilok, about 25km from Sandakan.  A quick walk around town the first afternoon confirmed that there was indeed nothing in this town for tourists, but felt a lot like being back in India with all the locals staring and wanting to say hello.

Next day was orangutan time!  We got there early (randomly - on the rock bus pumping out loud rock music with a big poster of Slash from Guns n Roses) in time for the first feeding.  They feed at 10am and 3pm, providing food for the orangutans that have already been released back into the wild.  The number of apes that turns up varies, it depends if the trees are fruiting or not and if they are able to find enough food for themselves.  At the morning feeding 3 turned up, not so many but very enjoyable to watch them swinging onto the feeding platform along the ropes provided to make sure they don't get lost on the way.  They were fed some fruit and loads of macaques turned up for it as well to eat whatever the orangutans didn't.

Most people only stay a short while for a feeding then go but we ended up spending the day there, watched a video, read the information boards, took a walk through the forest on the hunt for wild orangutans (didn't see any - turns out it was sleeping time!)and asked super nicely to be allowed to go and visit the babies in quarantine even though it's not open to the public, but to no avail.  We were still there for second feeding which was much more exciting, with 8 ornagutans and about half the tourists that had been there in the morning.  So that was much more entertaining, at the end one of them even swung through the trees and jumped down onto the platform walking right past us to amble along the walkway.  I've not so many good photos of them unfortunately, they wouldn't agree to my requests to stay still while I took a photo!

The other day in Sandakan was passed with a visit to the Australian War Memorial which commemorates the men who died in the war on the "death marches" when thousands were forced to march half way across Borneo through the jungle.  Only 6 survived it, and they escaped.  Very educational.
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