Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary: 9th September 2016

So today was a sweltering day, you can feel the heat as soon as you wake up. It’s so humid in the morning here and the sun was scorching!
Today John took half of our group the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary which was about 25 minutes away from our guesthouse.
We ventured a different way in the car this time and we got to see some different sights – mainly the huge acres of palm trees that line both sides of the main road. The view is breath-taking and really is like nothing I’ve seen before. Since being here all of us have wanted to find out more information on the palm oil plantations. John has told us bits and bobs when we’ve asked and it’s so interesting to hear about. Palm oil is the number 1 trade in Borneo and roughly 20% of all palm oil sold in the world comes from Sabah, which is where I am staying. We were asking John about the ways in which they make the oil and he told us that is comes from the fruit and that it can be ground up and put into a lot of things like food, beauty products etc. He then pulled over and picked a piece of fruit to show us what it looks like and it was great to see a piece. I’m really interested to learn more about palm oil while I’m here as it effects on the forest are huge.

We arrived at the Sanctuary and the sun was still scorching us!

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The sanctuary itself was relatively small but the views were incredible! You walked out onto a wooden deck and were presented with huge green trees and lots of wooden platforms for the monkeys to climb on. The trees started to rustle and little orange flashes started to appear, then little faces started popping out on the trees, then they all started leaping onto the platforms as a man has started to feed them.

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Watching these monkeys was so different to watching the Orangutans, these ones seemed to be on the look out alot more and one shriek from one of them and they’d all dart off into the trees again! It was fascinating to watch them interact with each other and you could definitely see that there was a hierarchy in the group.

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There was also a Hornbill that flew in from a tree to be fed a banana, it was such a beautiful bird and it’s beak was huge!

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After the Hornbill we went back and watched the monkeys again, there was a mother and a baby and I could have watched them all day. The way the mother was grooming him and he was going off to explore and then getting scared and running back to Mum, or anyone that would save him! The other monkeys were very gentle with the baby and it was lovely to watch them all with him.

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I’m absolutely loving spending the time watching these amazing animals in their natural habitat, the way they interact and use their environment around them in incredible to see and definitely something you don’t get when you watch them at the zoo. What another great day!

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Trip into Sandakan -8th September 2016

Today was our first outing into Sandakan which is the nearest town and is about 15miles from where we are staying. We were picked up by John who looks after us here, he drove us round pointing out intesting facts about the town and showing us the sights.

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We were taken to the Sandakan War Memorial first – the gardens surrounding it were so beautiful, there was a huge pond with huge lily pads and terapins and the flowers growing there were beautiful!

The memorial was funded by the Australian government as it was a camp that British and Australian prisoners of war were kept at and it was the starting point to where three different death marches took place. Seeing the remains of the tanks and tools used was incredible but reading the plaques and the stories of what the prisoners of wars went through was really tough but very educational too.

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Sandakan War Memorial

The next stop was the Buddhist Temple at the top of a really steep hill in Sandakan. It was a beautiful building and the views from the top were incredible!

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We made our way back to the car and headed to our next stop which was a little shop to pick up our wellies and leech socks for work! (nice!)

After the shop John took us to a traditional floating village, he was telling us that alot of people live in floating houses as you don’t have to pay as much tax and it’s an easier to to live. The houses there were all painted bright colours and there were little resteraunts down there too with their menus hanging in the windows.

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The people in the village were so friendly, as we walked past all the children were waving and shouting “hello!” and coming to talk to us, they were so sweet. We went to a ladies house who had lots of cats outside, turns out she rescues them and she had 20 at home, we stayed outside photographing the cats and speaking to her and her kids for a while then headed back to the car.

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It was great going around Sandakan, learning about new cultures and meeting some of the people there, hopefully we’ll be heading back soon for another look around.

Day two: Pool & Cocktails (…I know right?!)

After an amazing nights sleep I woke up refreshed and ready to start a new and exciting day! We all ate breakfast together which was lovely and then decided to venture down to the feeding platform again.

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The platform is a short walk away from the centre and it’s where tourists can see the Orangutans so it can get quite busy. We got there early and the jungle seems quite peaceful, then you’ll notice the trees will start swaying and rustling, then you’ll see a flash of Orange! The food is placed on the platform so everyone can get a good view, it’s fascinating seeing them sorting through the food on offer, trying to pick out the best piece of fruit on offer!

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We stayed there for an hour or so then came back to the resthouse and got our swimming gear ready as there is a hotel near by with a pool and wifi! It was glorious to be able to cool off in the pool, which was actually like a warm bath! but it gave us all some relief!
After the pool we headed to another local hotel for cocktails as it was Sarah (another volunteer’s) birthday! It was so lovely sitting with everyone, sipping cocktails having a laugh and a chat and getting to know one another.

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oh my…!

So I still can’t believe I’m writing this from the jungle of Borneo (sidenote – it’s after midnight here so apologies in advance if this makes no sense) The rain is hammering it down outside but with temperatures of 30+ it’s nice to get some relief from the humidity! So where do I start?!…

well we arrived at Sandakan airport at about midday and were picked up by Ronn who is our ‘go-to’ for this trip and made our way to the resort which was only about 25 minutes car journey from the airport, she had explained to us in the car that if we were quick at taking our bags up to our rooms when we got back to the house we might have enough time to catch the orangutans at the feeding station. The feeding station is a viewing platform that’s open to tourists that visit the centre, they feed the orangutans here twice a day. We were all beyond excited and threw our bags in the guesthouse (which is lovely by the way and much nicer than I expected!) and made our way down there!
As we started walking into the jungle I couldn’t get over the noise, it’s so loud with buzzing and screeching from the birds and insects. We walked down a wooden walk way and I just couldn’t believe where I was, it was so overwhelming and like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The trees are so tall and the bases of some of them are as big as a small car!

As we arrived at the feeding platform I saw the trees rustling ahead me, I looked up to see two Orangutans swinging through the trees right in front of me! I could not believe my eyes, to see these animals in their natural habitat is so overwhelming, now you’ll not be surprised to hear that I cried! I was just so happy to be there and after waiting 19 months I was finally in Borneo watching Orangutans swinging through the jungle, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be seeing such a sight.

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Our walk to the jungle

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The feeding station (minus the Orangutans)

Now….quick mention about the heat. IT.IS.HUMID. While we were watching the Orangutans the sweat was pouring off of me and you are just breathing hot air, it’s a small price to pay though so I won’t complain.

After the feeding station we all came back to the house, chilled out and pretty much collapsed with exhaustion. We couldn’t believe the amazing day we’d had and how lucky we are to be staying here for two months!