Friday, December 02, 2016

World.Wide.Webb: Malaysian Borneo – Kota Kinabalu, Sepilok and Kinabalu National Park

WOW! What a country, hands down the most incredible place I have ever visited. It’s an amazing contrast of leafy green jungle and towering mountains, and home to some of the most magnificent animals on the planet.

Borneo is actually a huge place and supposedly the 3rd biggest island on the planet. It is split into two main parts, Malaysian Borneo (the smaller part in the north) and Indonesian Borneo (much larger part).

Malaysian Borneo is again split into different sections, the part that we visited was called Sabah and covers the most northern tip of the island.

Despite all the apprehension about our visit mentioned in my previous blog we had a really great time, although I still don’t think it is somewhere I would chose to visit on my own.

I also feel quite strongly that it won’t be the last time I come here, 6 days wasn’t enough time to soak up the uniqueness of this country and there is far more to discover beyond the reaches of what we saw.

We flew into Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur landing late afternoon. We had a few hours exploring the city but it’s more of a local place so there isn’t too much to see or do.

It also has a bit of a dodgy feel in that we didn’t really see anyone else there who wasn’t Asian, and we got some strange leery looks off the seedy locals.

The next day we headed out of town on the bus to Sandakan, 6 hours of windy mountain roads later and we were dropped off at a empty road junction.

It was 3km from there to our final destination of Sepilok, and luckily for us there was one man with a car waiting to take us up to our hotel.

Sepilok is the home of the Orangutans, the main reason we came to Borneo. So we thought we would do it properly and pay to stay in the nicest resort there.

There is no town just a few accomodation places around the Orangutan sanctuary which is set deep in the jungle.

Our resort was AMAZING, a little pocket of complete solitude worlds away from anywhere else we’ve been so far.

We had a wooden cabin to stay in amongst the trees with a balcony, awesome outdoor shower and the most stars we have seen so far.

We had two nights here so for our one full day we went to visit the Orangutans or ‘man of the forest’ as it directly translates.

Sepilok Orangutan rehabilitation centre is one of the best places we’ve been with a remarkable programme in place for this endangered species.

Orangutan infants are dependent on their mothers until at least 6 or 7 years old, meaning if they become orphaned they are in real danger of not surviving.

Unfortunately due to large amounts of deforestation in their habitat this occurs all too often.

The parents are either killed or separated from their young leaving them abandoned, sometimes plantation workers may find them and take them home to be a pet keeping them in poor conditions.

The centres rescue programme takes the orphaned Orangutans and after some time in quarantine and a health check acts as their surrogate parents.

They have an indoor nursery where they teach them not only the skills they need to survive in the wild but also to trust humans again.

When they reach 5-6 years old depending on their progress they are released into the outdoor nursery.

This is just the open jungle and Orangutans are encouraged slowly to venture further and further away from the sanctuary.

Some will take to this and may never be seen again, whilst the less confident will be dependent on the centre for the rest of their lives.