Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Borneo / Sabah Day 5th - 8th of may

Our Jungle Trip on Borneo

We departured early 7 am - pretty terrible time, but leaves us with a complete day to make up our mind what we'll do on Malaysia's part of the island. The south belongs to Indonesia. The most interesting area is Sabah - east to Brunai.

Starting from KL, we didn't book the flight to the north of Sabah like most travellers do, but directly near to the Oran-Utan sanctuarity in East Sabah, to Sandakan. The place near the airport is Sepilok, where is a whole area of jungle reserved for the human-like apes.

Airasia did well, and after a 3h flight, we arrived and suprisingly being picked up by a driver from the jungle resort, right next to the sanctuarity. We had email contact, haven't confirmed anything, strangely enough - but we hooked up with him and wanted to give it a chance. Arriving at the place, we didn't like the artificial expirirence we got from this place.

A small phone-call later to our second email contact option, I got someone from the famous uncle-tan organisation confirming to give us a lift right next to the Orag-utang center. Unfortunatly, we didn't make it in time to the sanctuarity, but we should have plenty of chance to see this awesome creatures later in their natural environment.

As malayians are always late, we didn't worry (like the two polish ppl waiting there) and enjoyed to been carried by a truck with our two backpacks to the Uncle Tan HQ. The deal is like that: you pay 160RM (35EUR) per pax for a 2nights / 3days visit to their camp right in the middle of nowwhere in the jungle. Food, accomodation, transport and 5 tours included. Wow! We've read about ppl raving bout Uncle Tan in the net and the LP, but it was also mentioned that it's pretty tough.

The HQ was full of other backpackers, and we started chatting with the guys coming from there and the ones joined our tour - muddy, basic, wet, hot - a jungle tour. The new guys have made up a good mixture with us, a New Zealander, australian couple (still on travel with us), Italian, Brit and the two polands. The guys were ideal, w/o too many details, we had lots of fun, not knowing names, only personal interests, character, country and the places they visited already.

All of us jumped to a minibus, for 1 1/2 hours heading south direction to Sukao. From there, it took us another hour with the boat on the Kinabatangang (the longest river on borneo with > 500km) to the jetty. As it was flood, we didn't drop off here but directly at the camp. The pictures will follow, but by words you can imagine, it was the most basic you may have seen in some of the films with John Rambo.

While there was already a group of 6 ppls from the day before, we weren't quite sure what hapens next, but the guys from Uncle Tan really organised the whole thing trhu. Right before we felt confused, they showed us the accomodation, the briefing for the tours, the box with ice and drinks, the 'lobby' and how to seperate your garbage. Also: watch out your stuff, especially food, as the machaca (long tail monkeys) take any chance to swing by and rip you off :)

While we were checking the shower and the toilets (muddy water and holes in a wodden box), it was still pretty clean and organised - plenty of water around to flush and keep yourself as clean as possible. But as the lucky star is with us, we had the chance to hear and follow the sounds of the most precious creature in the borneo jungle right next to us: the Orang-Utans. The NewZealand found the male first, way up high in the trees, grabbing some food - we took some steps deeper into the jungle, and right 10m above our heads, a small child and her momi did the same. It was such an enjoyment to watch them in the free nature, all of us had the pure excitement in our eyes and gasping for cameras (following).
As it was said, the crew sees them sometimes once in a week, or even a month - and the ppl before us missed them again being on a tour.

On Borneo and whole Malaysia, Palm Oil and it's export eliminated almost all rainforrest by a mono-culture of palm-trees. The area we've been is one of the protected ones, secured by the WWF and the governement. Now, as it's almost too late, a couple of free living Orang-Utangs, Elephants, only very few Rhinos are living in these reservats. Still, the Palm-tree plantage owners (you can drive hours in a mini bus and see only these trees) shot these creatures as they sometimes got irritated and need to get through the palm-tree areas, heading for the next tiny piece of jungle. Last week, a 36 year old Orang-utang male and 2 elephants were found killed, even being protected by the government laws.

Our tour in the afternoon was splendid - we've seen many animals of the wildlife, all to list now would make the first day log too long - and let me also tell you from our first night in the jungle in our next entry.

No comments: