Trip Start Aug 19, 2010
92Trip End Aug 31, 2011
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The next day we went to see the Probiscis Monkey sanctuary, the male monkeys have unusually large noses that determine their girth in the sexual hierarchy of the bachelor group and once the male is established he has a harem of about twenty wives and their children. The way this happens is there is a bachelor group who roam around and try to steal the wives off a male's harem and eventually the two biggest noses will have a 'nose’ off and the biggest nose wins the wives. Some wives will go off indecently with a bachelor or two sometimes too! I thought this was fascinating! Also that these monkeys only exist here, in Borneo and nowhere else in the world! We saw an old 90’s style documentary that told this story and the fact that these monkeys can only survive in Mangrove trees, we have seen Mangroves all over the world but hadn’t realised their intricate relationship with the ocean and wildlife before, they are trees that grow from saltwater and are vital to the sustenance of numbers of wildlife. Two Chinese men bought a huge area of this land and cut down so many of the mangroves to plant palm trees for palm oil. They discovered these monkeys and realised how endangered they are and decided to leave ‘some’ of the area for them. Upon arriving at this place we did drive through acres and acres of symmetrical palm trees which was sad. The monkeys live in the wild and we went to some feedings, they built some wooden platforms and created viewings (and charge a fortune for foreigners) at first you see a monkey rustling in the trees and you think wow, then they put fruit and beans on the platforms near us and they just start embarking on us, from everywhere! I thought of Monkey Forest Road in Ubud, Bali where they live in the wild too was amazing, but this was something else! First they feed the beans to the Silver Leaf Monkey, their babies are so cute, little brown ones with grey faces and then eventually from their heads down with age they turn silver
Just the day before in the hostel we heard a story of one of the big male monkeys scratching a man on the head, he needed stitches and a rabies shot but then the man came back to the sanctuary to see the final viewing! It was so scary, the males show off and run between us and create such a loud noise by banging on stuff and through the platform we were standing on. They literally gallop and scream and are so chunky and flinging themselves around, at one point I was holding onto Anish’s back as two of these beasts roared right past us on either side! We saw some foolish tourists getting right up to their faces with cameras, but fear not we kept a healthy distance! The day was fascinating and HOT, the sun was pelting down all afternoon our feet burnt on the wooden platforms.
Sandankan is such a small busy town and the only reason tourists come here is for the monkeys and the orang-utans. In the evenings we head for the harbour, imagine a smelly harbour with rats and cockroaches everywhere, some coloured lights and some overpriced meals and beer catered for the westerner and you are close to what it was like. We even went to the one bar they have full of colourful lights and karaoke one night! Anish and I chose our meals well, we are LOVING the South East Asian food, among the many meals we have had friend tempura prawns (for about 50p!), more nasi goreng, prawn noodles, fried rice, lots of vegetables lightly sautéed (a surprise because we thought they would come fried to a mush!), a clay pot oven lamb shoulder and much more. It is so cheap and tasty, I miss my family who would love the food out here as much as we do!