Rise and shine at 5am as it was time to catch our 7am flight to Sandakan, located on the east coast of Sabah. After a quick 50 minute flight, we landed in “The Nature City”. We went to drop our bags at the hotel before grabbing some roti canai, roti telur (with egg mixed in) and of course, paired with some teh tarik. I preferred the roti canai over the egg version. Otherwise, it was a typical good Malaysian breakfast.
It was time to hop onto our van and let the adventures begin. First stop – time to meet the orangutans at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center. We arrive a little late for their feeding time so we didn’t see too many of them but we did get to see a few up close so that was really cool. Of note, all bags had to be put in lockers because the orangutans will grab them and run away. Also, a “ticket” must be purchased for cameras, so be prepared.
We also stopped by to see the sun bears next door at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. These bears are unique to Borneo and are kept here to protect them from extinction. They are small bears standing up to a height of only 150cm. They have long tongues for licking honey and each has a unique chest mark. They are also for adopting if you so please.
We then head to the Rainforest Discovery Center for a nature hike, which was abbreviated due to rain (surprise, RAINforest). We did manage to see many different plants of some of fruits and vegetables that we regularly consume like peppers and coffee.
It was time to grab something to eat at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary before meeting these rambunctious monkeys. The food there was unremarkable. We all either had nasi goreng or mee goreng – fried rice or noodles. The taste was ok. I also had their watermelon juice which was very sweet as it was mixed with condensed milk. Aaron had the pandan coconut which is supposed to be extra fragrant. It was good, but not as good as the ones we had the day prior. The opening of the coconut was small, so apparently you can ask them to chop it in half after you finished drinking the juice.
Then it was time to meet the monkeys! We made it for their feeding time this time, so we managed to see a whole bunch of them. It was quite a shock when a bunch ran down from the metal roof making lots of noises. It was especially scary because they were all charging towards me. When they all settled, you can see the family structure of these monkeys with one alpha male with many females around him. Babies hop from one mother to another and they all take care of them. We head over to the other platform to test our luck to see if we will encounter a different type of monkey (the grey/black type) but we did not see any. It was funny hearing the workers call them in though. It was as if they were meowing. I was using the washroom at that time and was wondering why there were so many cats outside. Luckily for us, we managed to see these smaller grey/black monkeys in the wild on our drive out! We even saw two mating.
After another nauseating ride that I had to sleep through, we arrive at the Sandakan Crocodile Farm where we met a huge 60 year old crocodile called Tako, who apparently ate 4 people in the wild but now only eats 1 chicken a day. Is that enough for him, I wonder? The crocodiles are such very slow moving characters that at one point, I wondered if they were real. It was then their feeding time and their viscous and agile side comes out. Scary. Also at the farm were fish, birds, porcupines, goats, ostriches and chickens – a very random collection. I realize I prefer to encounter animals in the wild vs. in these settings as they all appear very sad and hungry.
Speaking of hungry. We had to try some seafood for dinner as this is what Sandakan is known for. Apparently, there was a kidnapping by pirates that happened at one of the seafood restaurants and that restaurant is now closed. Scary. We, once again, had a delicious seafood meal full of crabs, clams, fish and shrimp, while I wondered when the pirates would appear to kidnap me.
It was time to head back to the hotel for a night swim in the infinity pool before calling it a night.