Orangutans!

Trip Start Aug 12, 2007
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23
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Trip End Sep 28, 2007


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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Tuesday, October 2, 2007

01/10 Helen -
We set off from Kota Kinabalu on a 6 hour bus into the jungle to Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary. However before we leave our bus driver is pulled over by the police and asked to do a urine sample, very amusing, the poor guy has to walk all the way down the back of the bus with his plastic beaker, then back to the front again containing his yellow liquid....for everyone to see..! I guess they havent got breathalysers here then! Apparently a few buses have crashed here, and so they now take extra precautions.

We pass Mount Kinabalu, the 4000 meter, forest covered mountain which looks spectacular with the top shrouded in clouds and numerous large waterfalls gushing from its side. However it is sad to see the dense jungle soon change into acres and acres of orderly palm plantations, I hadnt imagined that the natural jungle would had faced so much logging, but I should have guessed..

At Sepilok we pick up a ride to the village and find a gorgeous b&b, a little wooden cabin, set overlooking the jungle and lake with a jacuzzi pool to top it off! Its idyllic and very relaxing, I fancy spending a few days here!

Later we go in search of our friend Jess who is working at the Orangutan Sanctuary, the reason why we are actually here! We find her, along with the other volunteers in their lodge chilling after a sweaty, hard day in the jungle. Its great to see a familiar face after months of travelling and we spend the night catching up.

The following morning we head out to see the Orangutans having their breakfast, at the feeding station. Its amazing to see the big orange guys swinging down from the trees and eyeing us suspiciously before heading to the platform for their bananas. Everyones camaras are clicking away. The often turn their back on the large amount of people stood watching, but hey, who really likes to be watched eating...! About 6 Orangutans come in total, along with many cheeky Macquac monkeys, squaking through the trees and looking for any leftovers. Its amazing to see them interact with each other, helping one another, cuddling, and cleaning one another. A baby Orang clings to its mother...aw!

Afterwards we meet up with Jess for a 'behind the scenes' visit to the sanctuary that tourists cant usually see. We get to see the quarintine, clinic, play area, half way station and generally the Orangs up close...they are amazing and immediately start interacting with Jess, holding her hand and making faces and funny noises. To watch Jess...she is in her element here! She knows the names of every single Orangutan and describes each ones personality and charecteristics to us. The baby ones are so cute....I want one! They crave attention and reach out to be touched. We even managed to hold one, an ickle baby one, it clung on and looked at us with the biggest brown eyes. Then decides to do a wee on Andrew...ooops!

At the halfway house, they are trying to teach the Orangutans to be a bit more independant and enter the jungle. However the Orangutans dont seem to understand why the humans will no longer give them cuddles, they cant understand it! One in particular recognized Jess, and wanted attention..when he didnt get it, he cried and threw himself (literally) into the bushes! I couldnt help but laugh!

The following day we head over to Sandakan to change some travellers cheqs and meet an aussie couple who share the taxi. We head to the Death Museaum to learn how thousnads of British and Aussie POWs in the 2nd world war were held by the Japanese and forced under really bad conditions to work on military projects, then march half way accross the country....only 6 survived! Its pretty upsetting stuff, reminded me of the POW camps at the Bridge over the River Kwai.

Later in the afternoon we head to the Monkey sanctuary to see the Probiscus monkeys....they are hilarious! They should be called willy faced monkeys....have a look at their nose in the photos. They are so odd looking, a bit like muppets! They have funny beahaviours too, the females wagging their noses when they are 'in the mood for lurve', the males have their...erm,  bright red willy hanging out all the time, competing for attention with their nose! Clicker happy we take far too many photos.

Back at Sepilok we run into the biggest tropical thunderstorm, lightning every few seconds and big raindrops that get you  soaked. When it dies down a bit we decide there is nothing better to do than drink our bottle of red wine while relaxing in the pool.. nice!
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