Jungle Fever II

Trip Start Jun 15, 2004
Trip End Jun 15, 2005

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Sunday, October 3, 2004

Sunday 3rd October 2004
Now I know why the buses wouldnt stop on the way to Sandakan - their packed full from Kota Kinabalu - people and cargo, with somebody sitting on top of my rucksack on the journey out, the underside of the coach full of boxes.

7 Hour journey (I had in my mind 4), interuppted only a machine gun toting police check, where they checked the ID of every person on the bus - where half the Malaysians had smart card ID cards (who's the developing country?). Police followed into the bus by fruit selling kids, who latch onto me as the only westerner on the bus, and am convinced they are trying to teach me a rude word as they find it very funny.

Reach Uncle Tan's bed and breakfast, which has been recommended to me by people I met half way up Mount Kinabalu, and then bump into Paul, who I'd met in Kota Kinabalu.

After the altitude sickness, beginning to feel vaguely better, though still no appetite.

Monday 4th October
Firstly visit Sepilok Orangutan rehabilitation centre, and see nice large snake first of all, before firstly hearing, then seeing 8-9 Orangutans turning up to be fed, as they are gradually weaned off human dependence.

Hoards of package tourists - I havent seen that many westerners in one place since I left the UK! - and it was good when after ten minutes they were all ushered off by their guides to the next destination, leaving just 5 of us to see the Orangutans return, and play around, without 200 cameras clicking away.

Amazing creatures, who apparently are 96% the same as us, and have the intelligence of a 6 year old child.

Off to the Jungle!

Rickety minivan along poor roads (Borneo's roads, whilst better than most SE Asian countries, are still far worse than peninsular Malaytsia's), then onto a boat up the Kinabatang River.

Borneo could at times be renamed "Plantation" - as there are so many Palm tree plantations - where ther have chopped down rain forest, and you constantly see logs floating down the river.

Hence Palm tree's everywhere on the first part of the boat ride, but then we hit real rain forest, and quickly see proboscis monkeys (they have ridiculous comedy noses), Mackat monkeys and different birds.

Arrive at the flooded camp, which, as advertised, has very basic facilities, and later at night go on a a night boat safari, seeing owls, scorpions, monitor lizards amongst others.

Tuesday 5th October 2004
There is something very oldy worldy about being deep in the jungles of Borneo, especially woken at dawn by the sounds of excited monkeys and other animals waking up.

6.30am boat tour, where we see lots and lots of monkeys, high up in the trees, doing death defying leaps between trees, and generally monkeying around.

Later in the afternoon, on a walk / wade through the jungle, we see Orangutans, up close in the trees - amazing.

Monkeys also decide to visit our cabins (they like stealing things) so they have to be chased away and everything put away (our cabins are open - just a roof, mattress, and mosquito net - no doors or windows).

Elephants came by the camp a month ago, but are too far away now. All of the animals habitat is being eaten away by plantations - this area is safe for them, but they all need a vast area to roam.

See huge monitor lizards, tiny, tiny frogs, and wades through some distinctly murky water.

Wednesday 6th October 2004
6am start again today, another river safari, and on our way back we saw a large crocodile and a smaller crocodile - glad I decided against swimming!.

Finally, 7 hour bus back to Kota Kinabalu, where they showed the film Anaconda, set in Borneo!.

Thursday 7th October 2004
Visited island offshore of KK, Manukan, one of a set of 4/5 tropical islands, that, in stark contrast to KK, are beautiful and well laid out - though occassional downpurs curtailed swimming, where there are loads of fish just off the beach - some of which think your dinner.

Only downside is the amount of rubbish in the sea - probably floated over from KK - and mainly plastic bags.
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