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Published: September 17th 2009
We expected Malaysia much like our experiences in Thailand, Lao Cambodia, and Vietnam but it wasn’t really. We had been mulling over our time in Malaysia so far and it was hard to put our finger on exactly what had changed but something had. Even though we were still in Asia with the same climate, same region of the world it was different. Was it that there weren’t as many tourists, or was it fewer budget backpackers like us? Was it that everything seems to run slightly more efficiently or perhaps that the population was less? Perhaps a different majority religion? We were now in a predominately Islamic country. Or maybe that Malaysia is a wealthier country compared to its northern counterparts? We think it is a combination of all of these things and we reflected that this corner of the world is a big melting pot of dozens of cultures and ideals, we were just in a different part of the pot and it shaped the final leg of our Asian adventure.
We flew into Kota Kinnabalu in Sabah and after a night or two figuring out our best route we made our way to Sepolik. Here
we visited Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, a long time bucket list item for both of us and boy, we were not disappointed. We got to immerse ourselves in this jungle sanctuary and watched rehabilitated orangutans swing around, eat and go about their daily business, it was amazing! We just watched them spell bound, it was as if we had this glimpse into a secret world, how privileged we actually felt at being able to spend the entire day watching monkeys and walk around their habitat. What was also amazing was how human like the orangutans were and how like the orangutans Ste was. We have some great pictures and at times were almost within touching distance of these beautiful animals.
We then carried on east to Sandakan where we had planned a few trips but they ended up being more expensive that we had budgeted for and we had to scale back. We really wanted to go to see the Turtle island national park but our weekly Asia budget was being stretched to far so after making a few tough decisions we decided to return to Kota Kinabalu. We found a few more affordable activities here and went on
Sepolik Orang Utan Sanctuary
'If I dont move, they cant see me.....'
a trip to a local Mari Mari tribe village. This was great fun as we learned all about the Mari Mari Tribe from how they started fires from rubbing bamboo together to where and how they lived, how they cooked their meals as well as joining in their traditions such as dancing, blowing darts from bamboo shoots, trying the local tobacco and rice wine, receiving traditional henna tattoos and playing traditional games. Stephen was elected chief of our visiting ‘tribe’ and had to enter first and be greeted by the Mari Mari’s chief and warriors. We were blessed by the village high priestess on our way in and finished off the evening by eating a dinner which was cooked inside bamboo shoots & banana leaves. It really was a great day.
Before leaving Borneo we spent a few days in and around Kuching before returning to Singapore. Kuching is the capital of Sarawak, and it was a lovely city to chill out in and wonder around, the perfect place to be. Whilst we were here we went River Kayaking down the upper stretch of the Sungai Sarawak. This took 3-4 hours as we kayaked through some amazing
jungles and some pretty breath-taking scenery. It was mostly a gentle kayak but we had a few rapids thrown in for good measure.
We then went and visited the Annah Raus longhouse. It was quite a modern village built around the traditional longhouse and as our guide explained, a time will soon come when people no longer have a need for longhouse, they will become more for ceremonial purposes more than anything else. It is estimated to be over 100 years old it was very interesting to wonder in and around the local Bidayuh community as they went about their daily business. We went into the headman’s house or skull house which houses in a wire metal cage suspended from the ceiling full of human skulls- long ago victims of the tribal people. Invaders to the longhouse were caught and beheaded. Luckily for us a practise that ended decades ago.
We also went to the Semengoh wildlife rehabilitation centre where we saw some more Orangutans. This rehabilitation centre is not so well known as Sepilok but we decided that we couldn’t pass up the chance to visit as we were so close. Again, we were not
Sepolik Orang Utan Sanctuary
'Hmmmm, looks like faeces. Sure ill give it a taste!!!'
disappointed, we were there for the 9am feeding session and as it September, (not much fruit in season) we were treated to many Orang Utans making their way to the feeding platform in search of Bananas, Coconuts and many other tropical fruits. As well as this we were not only lucky enough to see but to be within ten foot of not one, but two mothers and their baby’s. This was amazing, and soon we had taken over 100 photos. We may have got a bit carried away, but we did however manage to get some great shots.
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