Our 24 hour stay in the nature town of Sandakan Sabah Borneo was quite eventful. Before we had a chance to get acquainted with the wooden paths joining the buildings of the Sepilok Jungle Resort, we were caught in a torrential downpour that was so loud we had to yell in each others ears like we were in a noisy bar. Since the wooden walkways over the river and jungle were not covered we booked it back to our room. We got completely soaked but it was so fun! Especially when the lighting lit up the sky exposing the jungle.
Orangutan in Malay means ‘man of the forest.’ The word man was used because orangutans share 96% of their DNA with humans. The Sepilok Sanctuary offers a lot of information about orangutans and their battle with extinction. You can adopt one for 180 ringits or 60 dollars. My assumption was that we would maybe see a few orangutans but not up close. I was wrong. Before we even got to the feeding platform a mother with a baby clinging to her walked down to the rail of the path. They posted up for pictures until the baby got scared. The
ranger told us to keep walking past them. We made it past but not without a little swat from the mom to make sure we kept our distance. The feeding platform is for the orangutans that are transitioning into the wild. They are free to roam on all the ropes and trees with a guaranteed meal at 10am and 3pm. We saw males, teenagers and more mom and baby combos, and of course lots of monkeys trying to sneak away with a banana or two. Some orangutans never return to the feeding platform and others are lifers. Most of the orangutans are orphans rescued by animal services from people keeping them as pets. There are these ridiculously cute photos of the the young orphan orangutans hugging each other or being transported in wheelbarrows. In the museum there’s a board that says “What is the orangutans greatest threat?” When you lift the small wooden door there’s a mirror.
Traveling for me is the opportunity to make up the rules and boundaries of life as I go. To know my own privilege, to know my own disadvantage, to know myself and to uncover some of the mysteries of the world. When I return from a long trip I find that I feel a little bit different, because I am. I love the transformation that comes from travel.
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