Monday, December 11, 2006

The Clouds 061206

Early morning, 2nd day in Sandakan and ominous clouds hover above the bay. There is typhoon activity in the Philippines and the spill-over effect can be had here too.

As usual, a navy fast boat shows off.

While waiting for our rental car to arrive, a group photo is in order (3 other kids absent, including The Birthday Girl, too bad ...).

While I contemplate the Meaning of Life, and what a lousy brekky we just had ...

... though this local sweetened glutinous rice is the saving grace.

Off to Sepilok 061206

We got our rental Proton Saga and are soon on our way to Sepilok, for a date with our distant cousins. One truly old car but at least the weather holds.

Decent roads all the way, and we start noticing these nice displays.

Along with their drawcards - orang-utan and proboscis monkey.

After driving for almost 30km, we arrive at the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre.

The Entrance 061206

Yup, here we are at last. The world-famous Sepilok.

We stroll to the reception to buy our entrance tix. MYR5 for a Malaysian and MYR30 for a foreigner, plus MYR10 for a camera or camcorder. Sounds like a good deal, for a Malaysian at least.

Feeding time is at 10am (when the orang-utans come out from the jungle for their chow), and we are a tad early.

Time to enter the jungle, via wooden raised walkway. Nice.

Some reminders. Pls click image for better read.

The Walkway 061206

The walkway is dark ...

... and damp and slippery, ...

... and it goes up and down ...

... so tread carefully.

It provides a good platform to view flora and fauna too, like this thread-like worm.

The Platform 061206

After a 10-min slippery walk, we suddenly come to an opening in the forest as the walkway leads to a viewing platform ...

... and I saw my first ever ape-men, showing off their acrobatic skills. What a sight ... and what a bunch of show-offs!

People are on a non-stop photo-snapping frenzy (thanks to 1GB memory cards, and such) ...

... with most of them foreigners on day-trips from Kota Kinabalu, plus the odd peninsular bloke from Seafront.

Well, maybe some do stay at a nearby resort.

The Ape-men 061206a

Ten of them slowly appear, one by one from the forest. They swing from the trees onto this rope which leads them to the feeding platform on the right.

The elder of the gang, and everybody sort of love him ...

... except for this little guy.

Starving dudes demolishing some bananas.

Cute nipple. Not hairy at all.

The Ape-men 061206b

He is also contemplating the Meaning of Life like his distant cousin at the top of this page ...

... or maybe just thinking if he should join the uncultured hoi polloi.

The elder seems to be respected by the others, but he's also the greediest. He stacks bananas and sits on them for later consumption, by himself alone.

Awesome hand, smeared with bits of banana. Or is it a leg? They all look the same to me.

The 4 limbs are equally adept at doing things. Imagine if us, humans, could do similar things.

The Ape-men 061206c

The apes have unique, recognisable faces and are given human names by the park rangers. I remember 'Sudirman', 'P. Ramlee' and 'Michael Jackson'.

This is the guy who seems to be avoiding the elder bloke. He spends his time waiting for the chief to leave the feeding platform.

Top-notch display of agility.

Truly interesting species, these orang-utans. They are a member of the great apes (tail-less) - only 4 species on Earth: gorillas, 2 types of chimpanzees, and our very own orang-utans.

And then I spot another more interesting species melting into the forest ...

The Exit 061206

Almost one hour after the show started, the orang-utans disappear, and it's our turn to disappear too.

We find our way back to the entrance.

And decide to have drinks at the well-appointed cafetaria.

And of course, the obligatory visit to the loo ...

... which turns out to be a pleasant surprise - where else can you get air-conditioned toilets in the middle of the jungle?

The Water Villages 061206

Leaving Sepilok we go for a drive, follow the road to the airport and around it, till we come to a dead end, and to a peaceful colourful Malay village at the edge of the coastal mangroves, called Batu Putih.

On the way back to Sandakan, along Jalan Buli Sim Sim, this ugly water village greets us. It's being demolished to make way for a new development project. I believe this is the site of the original Sandakan settlement and ...

... it sits virtually next to the narrow opening of the bay. That's the notorious Sulu Sea out there.

Another water village on the bay, this one much more presentable.

There's a big mosque nearby and from its car-park, I view the mosaic of rusted zinc roofs.

The Town 061206

Arriving back in Sandakan, we go for another late afternoon walk. This is a totally relaxed place.

The markets (there are 3 of them, all in a row) may look a bit unkempt but the rest of the town is really fine.

And near the markets a white notice is prominent ...

... warning people on the serious offence of possessing, selling and buying turtle eggs.

And to end the day, another beautiful late afternoon at the new esplanade area. I have a feeling once this puppy is done, it'd be filled with tourist sipping teh tarik (or puffing, like my unwitting model here) while admiring the bay.