Orangutans, Rainforests, and bad bad roads

April 10, 2009 · 2 comments

I woke up expecting to get on a push bike and straight to the Orangutan rehabilitation centre but the bikes were not ready yet. I chatted with Lee Kun’s wife, Phui Wan, about my travel plans and she showed me some pictures of her and Lee Kun’s trip to Japan. Lee Kun speaks Japanese amongst other languages so met up with his Japanese teacher there in Tokyo on a visit, it certainly made me want to go to Japan even more, it looked beautiful in the April Spring pictures. I also used some of my TEFL training to help their 4 year old daughter, Yan Yu, with reading some English Disney stories, trying to feed her new words as we went through it, she speaks remarkably good English for her age so I was happy to help her improve.

I set off at soon asLee Kun’s 15 year old son, Kee Hou, finished tinkering with the push bikes. He had a brilliant white modern bike with full suspension, and even fitted his own mp3 player to it. I had a rusty old city bike with minimal braking capability, and no rubber grips so my sweaty hands regularly slipped off the metal handlebars. Thankfully Sandakan is not as humid as KL, it would be impossible for me to do this there. The roads were as rough as they come too. Rocks aplenty to attempt to throw me off my mobile museum piece.

We rode to the Sepilok Orangutan rehabilitation centre, it was certainly an eventuful ride, I can’t remember how many times I almost fell off, but somehow I never did.

We arrived at Sepilok safely enough (it must have been about 10km away), Kee Hou barely bothered by the ride and me wetter than a swimming pool, to find we just missed the first feeding for the day. So after a drink we watched the Orangutan rehabilitation presentation (which was done by Hayley, a English girl who I met on the plane to Sandakan) and decided to go see the rainforest reserve for now as we had 3hours or so until the next feeding session (and they don’t let people just wonder in when feeding time isn’t on).

My bike outside the Rainforest Discovery Centre

My bike outside the Rainforest Discovery Centre

There was a small exibition area at the start which had some info on the trees, plants, animals that live in the rain forest. After that Kee Hou said we could walk or cycle through the forest trail. But it would take a few hours to cycle round it all! For that reason I choose the bike, as we had a time limit I wanted to see as much as possible before heading back to the Orangutans.

The first section was a plant discovery Garden. Certainly some interesting plants in there, from medicine to cooking plants, unfortunately trying to rush through it I didn’t take much in from an educational point of view.

After following the trail for a bit, we crossed a suspension bridge over a lake and continued until we got to a viewing tower, which was 17M tall.

After that viewing tower, time was running out so we went to the next, larger viewing tower at 23M tall where after a few more pictures taken and water drunk I called we head back to Sepilok.

View of the rainforest

View of the rainforest

From that point the loop around got us back to the entrance quickly so off to Sepilok we went (2KM away from the rainforest trails). There we had lunch and I saw for the first time in Malaysia tomato ketchup so quickly applied it to the chicken burger and chips which I ordered.
After paying/donating we went through and was met by those ever pesky Macaques alongside the walkway where we got to the viewing section for the Orangutan feeding time. We was half an hour early but there was one cheeky Orangutan hanging on a rope watching us humans watching him/her.

Monkeys hanging about

Macques hanging about

Feeding time came and the Macaques on the feeding platform was shooed off for the Orangutans, suddenly 2 more appeared out of no where to get a bite to eat, it was nice to see them swing about and have their bananas.

Orangutans get fed bananas

Orangutans get fed bananas

With that done on the walkway out I stopped behind a crowd, an Orangutan was a bit lost and sitting on the hand barrier. I took a quick picture but it didn’t come out well, I didn’t take another as the amount of people crowding round with their flashes going was clearly distressing the poor thing who didn’t know what to do. Unfortunately everyone who did that will be delaying the thing actually get rehabilitated and haven’t been listening to the message of the Sepilok rehabilitation centre, so it was a bit of a shame to end the visit like that. Fortunately a member of staff came along and took the Orangutan back to where the public are not.
Check out the Orangutan Appeal UK here to see how you can help: http://www.orangutan-appeal.org.uk

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex April 11, 2009 at 11:04 PM

That is awesome! I totally dig the picture of you with the bike man! :D Looks like the Orangutans are pretty happy there too :P

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Dean April 12, 2009 at 2:11 PM

That is a great video of you swinging along that rope……

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