Day 344…ORANGUTAN SANCTUARY
I have been looking forward to today for ages. It’s a really early start for me to enjoy a full day’s sightseeing in the world’s largest Orangutan Sanctuary. Early morning, I board a planebound for historic Sandakan, one of Sabah’s earliest settlements. At thesantuaryI get the chance to see these majestic, orange apes up close in their natural habitat. The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. To aid the orangutans adapt to the wild, a supplementary diet of bananas and milk is laid out on feeding platforms twice a day as they swing into view on ropes and vines.
After seeing this incredible event, we head to a new section of the Rehabilitation Centre, which is the outdoor nursery where young orangutans will be cared for from being born in captivity or when their mothers have been killed. These youngsters have not had the chance of a natural upbringing and don’t have the skills to be able to survive in the wild. The aim of the nursery is to train these youngorangutans to climb and be normal and be reintroduced to the wild. This viewing area is behind one-way glass so as not to disturb them as they swing in to eat and play.
After that we stop at a local restaurant for lunch and I am delighted to discover that it is a remnant of British occupation in Malaysia – an English Afternoon Tea Restaurant where i have an amazing included lunch of cream of mushroom soup, beef stew, lime soda, scone with jam and cream and tea. Yum! Here also is the house and museum of Agnes Newton Keith (Author and war heroine).Then its off to a private city tour with my awesome guide Joan where we visit all the central landmarks of Sandakan. First up is the Central Market followed by a stroll down the bridge-streets of the Sim-Sim Water Village where everyone lives in lovely houses built over the water on stilts! Within the villages here are 32 separate tribes speaking over 50 languages in over 80 dialects!
Then we go and see the Puh Jih Syh Buddhist Temple which offers not only panoramic views of Sandakan Bay situated on the hilltop of Mount Merah, but inside a view of one of the most beautiful temples i have ever seen! Then we stroll around the city… size wise it isprobablyonasimilarlevelasAustralia’sTamworthorWaggaWagga. Now since i am flying solo, we are done early sobeforereturningtoSandakanairportforyourflightbacktoKotaKinabalu, my guide takes me out to the Sandakan War Memorial Park where there are memorials, a mini i museum and artefacts from WW2 when Australia helped fight on Malay soil against the Japanese… a rivalry that not only still cuts deeply here in Malaysia, but the people here really identify with us down under and not only celebrate Anzac Day… but a SECOND Anzac Day in August with her own THREE death march/dawn chorus peices of music! Gallipoli may be an Aussie mecca… but you should get here as well where Aussies survived a Japanese POW camp.
Then i wait patiently in the airport for my delayed flight back to Kota Kinablu.