Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, on the island of Borneo. Commonly known as KK it is the gateway to most people visiting Sabah or Borneo. It is the main launching point for mount Kinabalu and the range of Islands off the Borneo coast, including Labuan. We hopped the Kota Kinabalu Ferry from the Jesselton Point pier and headed away.
When we were finished in Labuan and Brunai we returned for a couple of days in KK. The first order of business was laundry as Malaysia is hot and humid, meaning that clothes get sweatier much quicker than normal. This created a problem as we dropped them off at noon with a 10am pickup the next morning…the next morning we found that it was a public holiday and everything was shut…including our laundry. The laundry would reopen the day after at 10am…but our flight left at 7am. So we had a down day… mucking around to try and get our clothes and Jill making a start on her last assignment of the year.
Some phone calls from the great staff at the hotel…and the owner of the laundry came in on his day off, retrieved our clean clothes, and delivered them straight to us. Malaysia really is fantastic and the people will help any way they can. Our hotel was right next to the night market for goods and a short walk to the food market. We had a huge seafood meal of crabs, scallops and calamari…with beer for under $20.
The next stop was the one that I had wanted since coming here to Borneo…we were off to see the orang utans… I have had an unhealthy love for all things orang utan since seeing Clint and Clyde in “every which way but loose” and “any which way you can”. We landed in Sandakan and headed straight for Sepilok which is the home of the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. It is 43 sq km of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve that was turned into a rehabilitation site for orang utans back in 1963.
Exiting the airport at 8am we were met with peak hour in Sandakan and bumper to bumper traffic on the exit to the airport. I commented to the cabbie that the traffic was bad today, who responded…no traffic…too many cars. A ridiculously long period (and 14 miles) later we arrived at our accommodation… the Sepilok Jungle Resort. This place is squarely placed in the heart of the Borneo jungle and is a 250 metre walk to the entrance of the orang utan sanctuary.
For about $20 you can get a day pass which covers the 10am and 3pm feeding times and access to the infant orphanage. The centre cares for young orang utans orphaned as a result of illegal logging and deforestation and those who have been illegally caught and kept as pets. They are trained to be rereleased into the wild. There is an infant nursery for the littlest ones and once the orphans get their skills up they are released to fend for themselves within the protected forest. There is a twice daily feeding for those unable to cope however the meals are identical every day…making it a very boring diet and thereby encouraging them to forage for their own food.
On the visit the first afternoon we saw 4 orang utans coming in for the afternoon feeding and then another 4 in the infant nursery. Despite the “silence” signs all over the joint the peace of the jungle was ruined by the rudeness of Russian and British tourists who clearly were above the rules and their experiences were the only ones to matter.
The next morning we headed back for another fix…while leaning on the rail watching the action Jill got a bite from a centipede/millipede. After a few hours of sitting in the jungle in the heat watching the orang utans and we headed back to the hotel pool to cool off and for Jill to do the last masters assignment for this year. After three days our sojourn into the jungles of Borneo was over. In case anyone is interested…this is a trip very worthy of replicating.
Having left Borneo we headed back to Kuala Lumpur for a few days and actually got out of the airport for a change. Jill had some cousins (Jen and Paul) that we arranged to catch up with while we were in town. We had a couple of drinks together and a catch up but having 2 year old twins severely impacted the time we could spend together as the attention spans were short. Our accommodation was right in he heart of Chinatown and Jill had the last assignment to finally put to bed.
She studied while I wandered the streets checking out the local sights and of course food outlets. The last thing of note was that the venom from Jill’s centipede/millipede bite combined with the left over toxins from her jellyfish sting a week or so earlier to cause a fairly nasty reaction.
Her arm swelled and the healing jellyfish welts became inflamed and she generally became unhappy as competing toxins decided to mess with her system,