And so our Borneo adventure started! Our flight from Kuala Lumpur on Monday 12 march to sandakan in malaysian Borneo took just under 2.5 hours. We were flying with malaysian airlines and were pleased to find that we had a complimentary meal on there. Bonus! No alcohol though due to religious reasons so not quite an emirates flight unfortunately ha!
The local buses from the airport stops running at 6pm and we landed 6.30pm, typical, but a taxi was really cheap anyway so it was grand.
Andrew had seen a hostel in our guide book that was cheap, had air con, but more impressively had a tv&dvd player in every room with use of the 4500 dvds the owner has! A travellers dream hotel. We merrily walked up the stairs to the hostel ready for a dvd night...to find they were fully booked. Gutted. To add insult to injury an annoying older English couple at reception happily told us ' you have missed a good one here' - yes thanks we realised that! After 20 so mins of scouring the town for cheap accommodation we found somewhere with 3 very helpful malaysian men...as camp as you could imagine. They didn't speak much English so there was lots of giggling and getting on...from them not me! It seemed to be a night for encountering 'characters'... While we were taking a look at another hotel we were waiting for the lift & it opened up with 3 fully dolled up lady boys, make up, mini dresses, perfume, the works! Andrew & I looked at each other at this point, didn't speak a word & silently agreed it would be best to wait for the next lift! At this point i thought of my lovely dad & if he had seen what we had just seen... If you know him you will know what I mean! After travelling through Thailand & parts of malaysia we are quite used to seeing lady boys ha but it is not what a northern Irish farmer builder is used to seeing that is for sure!!
On the Tuesday 13th march, our first day in Borneo we headed to the orang utan sanctuary in sepilok...40mins by cheap local bus from our town of sandakan. Borneo is famous for its orang utans so we were excited to see them. The sanctuary houses semi wild orang utans who were orphaned or rescued from captivity. They roam in the jungle and know the daily feeding times if they need a top up! We saw one orang utan feeding and lots of macaques but were a little disappointed not to see more orang utans. However after feeding time, while walking back through the jungle on the walkway a mother and baby swung by and she ended up coming down out of the trees onto the walkway to warn us all off. It was pretty hair raising actually, Andrew and I got separated when the crowd had to part and the mother was getting more and more agitated with the relentless annoying people pushing for one more photo etc. She lashed her arm out at one point but thankfully no one got hurt. It was frustrating that people wouldn't leave her be. But having such a close encounter with a mother and baby was amazing. The little baby just clung on underneath her throughout the whole adventure, safe in the knowledge its mum could rip any us in half is she wanted to! On Tuesday night we really enjoyed going to the cinema, realised we hadn't been to the cinema together in over a year! After sussing out what was on in English we watched man on a ledge, great film! We had some issues with the taxis to and from the cinema really trying to rip us off. Andrew got very frustrated with one taxi man, knowing that just because we are white they will automatically try charging you double. Andrew doesn't often get angry but he had had enough at one point, I had to tell him to stand back and let me negotiate the price with the next taxi! Quite amusing! Thankfully our tolerance levels seem to explode at different times so the other one can usually take over and sort something out ha!! That night one of the men in our hotel was sat with rollers in his hair and ran away screaming when I saw him ha! Later on one of them shouted I love you at Andrew as he passed by! Hilarious! Again I thought of what my dads reaction would be he he!!
On the Wednesday 14th march we managed to get a room at the dvd hostel, horray! A relief away from our hotel where the men sang Jessie j and Whitney Houston at the top of their voices at any time of the day and night! First thing we headed to the Proboscis monkey sanctuary by bus again. I didn't really know much about them before but there are literally only a few places in the world that these bizarre looking monkeys live. The males have these massive big flat floppy noses that look comical! The sanctuary has some ethical issues; the Lee brothers destroyed the majority of the forest area, making way for a huge palm oil tree plantation. They left the monkeys a small area of forest to live in but it isn't big enough to sustain them all and so they feed them twice daily and charge visitors £15 to visit. All in all, quid's in for the owners.
We did get to see lots of the intriguing Proboscis monkeys along with silver back monkeys, some of who were tame enough to touch. There were 2 different packs of Proboscis monkeys; one with the top dog male monkey and all his wives and the other with all the bachelor monkeys. All the female monkeys are with the king monkey and he keeps a close eye to make sure they don't stray and become involved with any of the male monkeys from the bachelor pack. Essentially the monkey with the biggest nose wins and stays the king, for sometimes a few years at a time. It's fascinating! We got some great photos but saw some professional and semi professional photographers getting amazing shots with their fancy cameras. There was a wee wood pecker poking his head out of a hole in a tree which was great to see and we saw a flying garden snake too.
We have loved our orang utan and monkey experiences here and tomorrow we move onto kota kinabulu, 6 hours by bus.