Borneo - Day 2 - 5 - SW Borneo & Orangutans
Dec 8, 2011
|Dec 5th: We spent these few days researching Borneo and what we would be doing for the next 3 weeks or so. As Borneo was not initially on our travel list, there was quite a bit of research required. We also spent a significant amount of time with Madam Bong (the live-in keeper of the guest house we were staying in), learning of the customs of the Iban people (her ancestors), as well as the local customs, traditions, history, and beliefs.
We also met Angeline, another back packer staying here at Marco Polo’s. She was just arriving back after hiking Mount Kinabalu. Angeline comes from Singapore, she is a teacher and is currently on school break enjoying a little travel time before she heads back. She invited to show us Kuching and take us to eat a local favorite - Laksa and Ko Lo Mee.
Angeline took us into a local restaurant and quickly ordered us a Laksa (curry soup) and Ko Lo Mee (stir fried egg noodles, pork and chilies) and a fresh lime juice. They were all delicious. We sat and enjoyed our conversations with Angeline. Very smart girl and very funny. She is so passionate about her job teaching and struggles to find a balanced way to help all the children flourish. When she thinks about how lazy they are and how much she has to push them she says it makes her “Vomit Blood”. We quite enjoyed Angeline.
We walked the streets of Kuching, took a look in a few of the shops. Stopped in at McDonald’s for an ice cream cone. We walked along the river and ended up in little India, not too long after it started to pour buckets of rain. We donned our umbrella’s and headed back fast to the guest house.
Later that evening we went out for supper with Angeline, had another Ko Lo Mee dish. She also introduced us to Kaya which is a jam like spread made out of coconut milk. She ordered us some toast with Kaya - delicious it was.
Dec 6th: Woke up this morning a little late, the room is so dark and quiet here we just sleep forever. Opened the door to discover a present left by Angeline. Two mandarin oranges and a lovely Mount Kinabalu post card thanking us for tagging along with her yesterday. The oranges represent a Chinese tradition around Christmas time and holidays. When you go to someone’s house or they come over to yours, you present them two oranges which is a sign of friendship. We very much liked this tradition and were so touched by her thoughtfulness and generosity of friendship. Angeline if you are reading this we Thank You from the bottom of our hearts and hope that someday our paths will cross again.
Today Delphine and Nick arrive to join us in Borneo. To honor their welcome we went to the local market with Madame Bong where she selected different vegetables, fish and chicken for tonight's meal. I cooked supper with Madame Bong and we had it ready just in time for Nick and Delphine.
We sat down to a table of delicious eats which consisted of sticky rice, chicken, three different vegetable dishes (one is said to ’taste like heaven, smells like hell - this is due to the color and smell of your urine afterwards LOL) and a home made shrimp/fish based dip. Everything was awesome.
We tried Durian for the second time and had a good laugh at Nick and Delphine who had never tried it and could barely keep from spitting the fruit out when they did. Got some nice photos of that. Madame Bong is in love with Durian and let me tell you when she was shopping for it she was very serious. Vegetables and chicken not so much but the Durian....she knows her Durian.
Ended the night off with some decisions on what we would do tomorrow and chit chatted with Madame Bong and the guest house owners of Marco Polo - Samuel and Georgette.
Dec 7th: We woke up and all four of us took a local bus to Semengok Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. This is the best place to view semi-wild Orang Utans, who have been rescued from captivity and trained to survive in the surrounding forest reserve. The rehabilitated animals roam freely in the rain forest and often return to the center at feeding time.
9:30am they dump out bowls of fresh fruit on a plat form base just outside the jungle trees. A Orang Utan mother and her young baby arrived from the ropes high above the jungle floor to see what was for breakfast. The baby was to the right of the mom and was a little lower on the rope, it took its finger and stuck it right up the mom‘s butt, pulled it out and tasted it. It repeated this ‘depravation of privacy‘ a few more times before the mom became annoyed and pushed the baby away.
They climbed across the ropes and down to the platform where we got some really nice photos of both of them. Eating hard boiled eggs, banana‘s and a coconut. So amazing to see these wonderful monkeys in the wild and to know that this is one of the very few places in Borneo to see them. This is the only place in the world that Orang Utans can be found. Spectacular experience for us.
After the Orang Utans we took a bus back to Kuching and walked around the river front. Made our way to the Sarawak Museum and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and reading about Kuching’s history.
Dec 8th: Slept in a bit. Walked around Kuching with Nick and Delphine. Jason and I both bought ourselves a waterproof watch. Good thing because just as the afternoon arrived there was another torrential downpour of rain. We once again donned our umbrella’s and walked back to the guest house. By the time we arrived at Marco Polo’s the rain had stopped and the sun was shining again.
We all decided that we wanted to buy Madame Bong some fresh flowers to thank her for all she has done for us during our stay here. She went above and beyond the call of duty, making us stirred fried noodles for breakfast and fresh made donuts and scones, oh and fresh made orange juice as well. She was very happy to receive the flowers.
Looking forward to our next destination of Bako National Park which we leave for tomorrow afternoon.
We were hoping to see the Rafflesia flower. The world’s largest flower, which can grow up to one meter in diameter and smells like a rotting corpse. However it takes the flower 15 months to bud and once it blooms it only last 5 - 7days. Blooming rafflesia flowers can also be some distance from the park headquarters where you go see them so you have to walk for sometime in hot humid conditions to get to them. While that is not a problem for us the problem is that there are currently no rafflesia flowers blooming so we have to move on without seeing one. (this one place in Sarawak is just outside Madame Bong’s village of Lundu)