First day & night booked into Sepilok Jungle Resort. Why you may well ask – it has a pool!! The rooms are very ordinary. The grounds are great is on quite a big block and is almost like it is in two sections divided by a lake. Main reception, some rooms, the pool, a gym? and a restaurant (not sure if it was open?) on one side and on the other side a restaurant and more rooms, with a small reception / office. We are on the side without the pool – long walk over. Our room is dark and old. We have adjoining rooms, is meant to be a family room but really is a squeeze to fit more than 3. The bathrooms are cool, jungle image with multi coloured tiles. And we have air con. Can’t compare this place to others as is the only place I’ve stayed, seems a bit pricey for what you get (by local standards). Anyways..
We are walking distance to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Centre, so off we walked. 2 kids still not well, mine with a tummy bug and the other with high temps. Still we dragged these poor kids around. Our 3pm visit to the centre was awesome!!! Quite a few orang-utans came out including a mum and little bub. Pigtailed macaques trying to muscle in on the orang-utans for a share of the fruit. One orang-utan CT was chased away by the others and came over to the viewing side, she came very close and put on quite a show. Was quite incredible and very memorable. I know lots of people say Semenggoh is better, but it really seems to depend on the day. This was one amazing experience.
My birthday and we are off to Kinabatangan, picked up in an airconditioned mini van and taken to our jungle camp (my son still running an upset tummy – he’s fine until he eats!!). We are booked 3 days, 2 nights into KJC – Kinabatangan Jungle Camp. You can’t imagine the extent of the palm oil plantations until you are actually here, as far as the eye can see palms, palms and more palms. Even where we turned off the main road to go into the jungle we were still surrounded by palm plantations. Soon there will be no native flora nor fauna left here. Dropped off in Bilit to transfer to our boat up the river. Our boatmen and guides for the rest of our stay are Ding and Sam – welcome to the jungle they said (about 12 times). On arrival at the camp we were welcomed again. Seems we are the only guests here tonight!!! Honestly the place is fantastic and I would absolutely recommend it for a jungle visit. Our rooms are bright, airy and spacious. We have a nice verandah to sit on. No aircon but a working ceiling fan. Out the windows straight away we see a Serpent Crested Eagle, a massive monitor lizard and a family of wild boar. Welcome!!
Included in our package are 2 afternoon cruises and one morning cruise. They expect rain this afternoon and will wait for that to pass before we go on our cruise. We had lunch and there was so much food just for us, it was delicious too. They are very friendly and doting. Why there aren’t more people here I don’t know? So at 4pm we donned our ponchos and hit the boat! Exciting. Spotted some hornbills, variety of monkeys – macaques, silver leaf and proboscis. Then word was out that some elephants were about – we missed them :-(. We saw the eyes of a crocodile. Kids are on a high. Again they put on an amazing spread for dinner. Just off to the side of the restaurant area is where the animals seem to gather, the monitor lizards, wild boar, macaques, birds, squirrels and tonight a visit from a civet cat!! Wow!
Early morning cruise for us. 6am cuppa before 6:30am on the boat. Oops guess who has the bug now? Yep me!! Managed to get on the boat and do the cruise. Saw some beautiful birds this morning – parakeets, kingfishers, bee eaters and hornbills. More macaques, proboscis and a mangrove snake. No elephants, no orang-utans. As I’m not well the kids have commandeered my camera, mmmmm. A tour group arrive at KJC today so now we have to share our space. Last chance for our guide to find us elephants and a wild orang-utan, we’ve given Ding a mission. Well you wouldn’t believe the first thing we saw on our final cruise a wild orang-utan!!! We sat for ages (we were the only boat for ages too) underneath just watching. My kids still talk about this as being a highlight of the whole trip! After here we went straight to wait for the elephants. We got to see one lone elephant. We were happy. Back to monkey alley to spot the proboscis the crazy macaques – one actually went for Sam our boat driver, launched himself at him – scary. More mangrove snake and a reticulated python both in the same tree.
Back to Sepilok. Same rooms as last time. Don’t get your washing done at Sepilok Jungle Resort they charge per item!! Yes per item! Will just hand wash a few things. Spent the afternoon at the pool. Now this restaurant / café at Sepilok Jungle Resort, be sure to check your bill as we found some extra drinks and items on our bills that didn’t add up. Be diligent! Also the food is boring and overpriced. Some of it was pretty bad, the kids couldn’t eat theirs one night.
Last full day we had considered labuk bay but unfortunately we weren’t organised enough. Walked down to the Rainforest Discovery Centre. Think the best time is early morning or late afternoon, not mid morning like us. Heard a few birds but only saw a couple, didn’t strike any other wildlife either but know that you can. Had heard another lady say they ran into an orang-utan here when they were here. Again I braved the canopy walk and some of those towers. Eeek. My boys and I went for a little wander further on and managed to see the biggest ant I have ever seen (outside the amazon). The little museum here was pretty good spent some time wandering in there. Made it back for lunch then back to SORC for our second visit. Perfect the rain came down right on feed time at 3pm. Damn I had my good camera and had to sit in a corner trying to keep it from getting wet. The kids loved the rain and didn’t phase them. I had one sitting with me when suddenly he was screaming and jerking around?? I looked down and there was this massive green centipede with orange legs that was on his foot!!! It was an easy 15 – 20cm long and about 2-3cm wide!! OMG!! What orang-utans? The rain eventually eased to a stop. My kids and I had agreed to go thirds and adopt an orang-utan, we did this today. Kids were pleased as punch!
We took a minibus into Sandakan the next day, we were booked for one night at the Sabah Hotel. Sandakan is a big place, I didn’t realise, our driver told us it is bigger than KK? Hotel is great, kids are loving it and busting to get to the pool. Later. First we need to do the memorial – we managed to get a taxi for 70RM incl wait time. Again this was further out than I had imagined. Be warned the mozzies are ginormous here wear plenty of repellent. The gardens are peaceful and the little museum is great with lots of information. We had one hour which was just enough time for us. Next stop Agnes Keith House. Lucky us is Agnes Keith Day, so we got free admission. Lovely nostalgic look at a bygone era. We headed across to the Tea House for lunch (more mozzies). Nice spot, great view. We walked back to the hotel and hit the pool.
Now OK I get that we are not Asian and look different to most people here, but…is it really necessary to blatantly gawk, try to touch and take photos - of the children?? If you were doing this in Australia you would probably be arrested! I’m pretty easy going but this is just a little creepy! We weren’t the only westerners in the hotel or by the pool either! There must have been a wedding or something on and the guests obviously didn’t bring their swimmers so the kids were in the pool either in the nude, with their clothes on or some just in undies. OK undies I can deal with. Public pool – nude? Fully clothed? Never mind we’re on holiday. Relax.
Tonight we ate at the Hotel Restaurant. Perfect. Couldn’t have been better (when I eventually got the right meal, sort of). Anyways everyone was happy and the service was great. We tipped our waitress RM20 and I thought she was going to cry :-). All in all we enjoyed our time in Sandakan.
Sunday 7Jul13 is the day we flew back to KK, let’s hope this time we get to enjoy more of the town than last time. Warning toilets at Sandakan airport – triple yuk!! Flight was on time though!