|We had a quick turnaround in the city before jumping on the bus and head over to Sepilok, the final destination before we were going to head back to Kota Kinabalu to end out tour. The journey over to the town was less than an hour and we were dropped straight at the Orang Utan rehabilitation centre where we spent a few hours watching the orang utans wandering down the boardwalks, being fed, busing their young and generally playing on the ropes / hammocks etc set up for them. There was definitely one ‘master’ (or possibly bully) who liked to pull all the other orang utans off the ropes they were one and fight (or play fight, we weren’t sure….but it looked pretty violent!), he also definitely spent some ‘intimate’ time with one of the females in front of every…. Slightly awkward as these animals look like min humans! The centre was quite incredible – it has been in existence since 1964 and housed 760 orang utans in that time. 81.6% of those animals went through the rehab process. The area is quite incredible because, while it has the facilities and feeding etc in the vicinity the centre is directly connected to the wider Bornean jungle (no segregation) so the orang utans can, if they wish and feel ready to, head straight back into the wild. It is a fantastic facility.
After a great couple of hours here (in the excoriatingly hot sun…. we think possibly the hottest day of the trip so far) we stopped for a drink and snack break where Edwin bought some local cakes and savoury snacks for us to try. A much needed break before we moved on to see the sun bears in the sun bear sanctuary next door. It was pretty interesting being here as it was the first time (pretty much since arriving in Borneo) that we found there were a lot of tourists. Borneo has seemed like quite an untouched country and one that is very high on my list of favourite places!
The sunbear sanctuary houses 44 sunbears – tiny bears native to South East Asia. There are two types of sunbears – Malayan Sunbears and Bornean Sunbears (only found in Borneo). The latter are half the size of the former, scientists believe this is an evolutionary adaptions due to an historic food shortage. The sanctuary we visited only housed Bornean Sunbears, animals which reach 30 – 60kg (males) and 20 – 40kg (females). We wandered around the high walkway watching them playing and walking around the huge expanse of space they had – we only saw about 4 of the bear as the rest were further afield in the rest of the space. The jungle area was (obviously) full of extremely tall trees and, at one point, one of the bears climbed all the way up to the top of one of them using its extremely strong claws – it looked like he was going to fall but he managed it without a flicker of worry….I had no idea how he was going to get down when the time came though!
After another couple of hours here we headed back to our accommodation where we spent the rest of the afternoon chilling by the pool, reading and just hanging out before we all met up again for dinner and another evening of Monopoly Deal. Quite an amazing day of nature.
Tuesday was the final full day of our tour – the majority of the day was spent travelling. We were up quite leisurely as we didn’t have to the bus until 11am…. Our latest pick up yet. We were flying from Sandakan so had the short journey back there to get the flight. We stopped on route at the war memorial in Sandakan city. The memorial was placed at the site of the prisoner of war camps where they were detained as they were forced to build an aircraft centre – it was from here they were forced to start the death marches the 230km from Sandakan to Ragan. The memorial was very respectfully done with a lot of information in the display room as well as a few artefacts around the gardens and finally the memorial stone itself.
Another thing I have liked about the tour we have done with Intrepid is the great mix of activity, nature and history – I feel like we have learnt a lot about WWII history while we’ve been here – particularly about the impact of the Japanese throughout the war… I find in the UK we focus predominantly on the attacks by the Germans (which makes sense as these are the ones that impacted Britain directly) however it goes so much wider than that.
After an hour at the war memorial we headed to the airport – checked in, laughed at Clare as she managed to accidently drop ALL her UK currency all over the check in area…. Hilarious there weren’t many people around. We grabbed some (awful) food for lunch and hung around for the flight.
The flight itself was a quick 50minutes hop – Sarah managed to sleep throughout the entire thing, I did a bit of journal, determined to be up to date at the point I go home….I don’t want to be writing about my travels when I get back to the UK, but just have one entry to write when I get home about how it feels to return to ‘normality’!