Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Meeting the Man of the Forest

After KK, we wanted to make our way to the small village of Sukau and the Kinabatangan River in search of wild Orangutans and other wildlife!

The Bornean rainforest is one of the most diverse and productive in the world, but unfortunately large areas of the local rainforest has been cleared to make way for palm oil plantations, destroying this valuable habitat for some of the most endangered animals on Earth.

The forest on either side of the Kinabatangan river is protected, and due to the habitat loss, a lot of animals have moved closer and closer to the river, making a cruise along the river one of the best places to still observe the wildlife.

Unfortunately Sukau’s not an easy place to get to.. We first had to take a 6 hour bus across Sabah, to it’s second largest city, Sandakan (and pass right by the turn-off to Sukau).

This was an adventure in itself as we decided to avoid paying for cabs and find our way on public transit to the out of town bus station.

They have an interesting system in KK where the buses only leave when they feel they’re full enough, so luckily we were the last ones on, rather than a Dutch friend we made who had been waiting 45 minutes for the bus to leave.

We then arrived at the long distance bus station at 9:15 only to be the last 3 on the 9am bus as well!

The bus ride was interesting with the horror movies that we mentioned previously (and the dodgy english subtitles just made it worse).

We also got to see the impressive 4000m Mt. Kinabalu from the road (which is a very popular hiking spot but will have to wait for another trip..) but the extent of the palm oil plantations you see from the road was rather depressing.

We spent one night in Sandakan before trying to find our way to Sukau the next morning, we’d read that there was a daily minibus that left from a certain location in the city but after walking there it was nowhere to be found.

Strangely no-one seemed to have any idea of such a bus and so we were getting quite confused and rather frustrated.

While the locals were all generally very welcoming, there was one exception – taxi and bus drivers.

They’re quite happy to talk to you until they realise you aren’t going to pay them and then you suddenly cease to exist mid conversation which only added to our frustration.

At this point we luckily found the offices of the B&B we’d booked to stay at in Sukau and found out they have their own minibus to take customers!

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Meeting the Man of the Forest