This week has, yet again, been fantastic! We flew to KK on thursday and were met by Danny who drove us the 40 minutes to the Rasa Ria, here we met Marie who is one of the rangers at Rasa Ria and a total legend! She showed us around the staff part of the hotel and then we were picked up and driven to our flat 15 minutes away in Tuaran where we met Naaemah who showed us around the town and suggested some good places to eat!
On Friday we started work, Marie and Marinus showed us everything we had to do which was preparing the food for and feeding the domestic animals (chickens, Javanese ducks, a duck and goose, 3 Tortoises and 2 goats called Lolly and Lulu - Lolly liked to headbutt), then we would give the Orang-Utans their breakfast of bread and electrolyte and clean the Orang-Utans night stalls. Between 10 and 11 we took some of the Orang-Utans out to play in the nursery the others were taken to the tourist platform. We did an enrichment activity with them each day, like giving them branches to build nests or filling a bamboo cane with food and honey, their interest on the task seemed largely dependant on food, and often they were more interested in playing in the drain or the hammock (which eventually broke after Yoda had been swinging on it all morning!)
They have 7 Orang-Utans at Rasa Ria and they are all such characters - particularly Alan! By the end of the week I was covered in bruises from him attaching himself to my legs, although by the end of the week I felt that we had developed a mutual respect although I possibly also have a bald patch from where hes pulled my hair! Selamat was another funny character with ears like the FA cup he would foward roll into the drain and we'd have to go and retrieve him (Alan seemed to spend most of him time in the drain but it was virtually impossible to get him out, as every time any of us went near him he launched an attack on our wellies!), Sarko, Kyute and Yoda are the 3 other boys who couldn't be more different to the 2 girls - Katie and Marudu, the boys are very boysterous, always fighting and playing but the girls are very gentle and so sweet, when we fed them they would take the food then hold it out to give it back to us! They were totally fascinated when Selina pretended to eat it!
On our first day we met Milo - possibly the cutest thing in the known universe! He's a 4 month old baby gibbon. He's really shy and it took a while for him to get used to us, he spent most of the time clinging onto Maries leg! Although by the end of the week he could just about handle the trauma of us taking him out to play - Dino made him a little play area by the outside nursery and he would run around (not climbing so much!) with his arms waving!
At the end of the day (provided it wasn't raining) we had to give the Orang-Utans a bath, they were generally fairly relaxed about it (even Alan!) and Sarko loved to run off with the towel and hide inside it!
On saturday night we met Marie and went for dinner at a Chinese resteraunt which was very nice! After Marie took us to one of her usual haunts where she told us about her 12 cats and new boyfriend who we actually got to meet on the last night!
On our lunch breaks we went to the staff canteen for food then hit the sun loungers on the beach and usually went for a swim in the sea! Then after work we would stay til 6 to make the most of happy hour at the cocktail bar!
I really enjoyed living at the flat in Tuaran - as the only English people (apart from a random man called Lobby - possibly Britains most wanted criminal...) we stuck out a mile and got quite alot of attention, although after 21 years of blending into the background it was quite nice and the attention was all positive - the people were so friendly and always smiling, I think thats one of the things I like so much about Malaysia - everyone is so much happier than in England (and who can blame them!)
On wednesday we met Lynn, another Ranger who'd been at Sepilok on her holiday and updated us on all the gossip! She was really good fun and let us watch Katie and Alan have their medical checks (Alan was remarkably more docile than I expected when the man from the husbandry centre arrived complete with thermometer and a tube of KY!) When we were in the outdoor nursery on wednesday Selina saw a snake, we took the Orang-Utans out as we didn't know if it was poisonous or not then I managed to catch it with a stick and sandwich it gently between 2 of the basins the Orang-Utans love to play in and take it out - Lynn told us that it was a Paradise Tree Snake and was poisonous to smaller animals but wouldn't have done us too much harm, we also partook in a daring frog resue when we were cleaning the nursery!
In Tuaran we were getting quite daring with what we ate and went to the market after dinner of Roti at Adys and got pudding - a pancake thing with lots of sugar and peanut goo in it AKA a angina in a bag! Needless to say we did not finish it and 1 between the 3 of us would have been more than sufficient!
We got some bad news in the middle of the week - Alice had decided to leave the project, I am totally gutted and will really miss her! We saw her on our way back from the airport today and she seems alot happier, shes staying in Sandakan for a while to make a plan!
Our last day was fantastic, we went up to the platform to take pictures with the Orang-Utans - Alan and I had a fight over my hairband, which I eventually won once my hairband had been stretched to about twice its original size!
On our last night we planned to meet Marie for karaoke - Annabels friends from home had appeared earlier in the week and they found a good karaoke bar! It was an amazing night but I suffered for it the next day! It was a shame that Lynn couldn't come but Marie and her infamous boyfriend Nick Lee were there, we found Dino there already propping up the bar (Selina persuaded him to sign a piece of paper saying that group 3 are the best volunteers and they can play with Alan when we come back - somehow I think he might not remember!) We also met several interesting local characters. It was here that we met Lobby Clark the random english guy who tried to persuade us to go to his friends illegal bar (we stuck to Lings cafe for karaoke!) Annabel had already made some connections from her previous night out and we met Jeffrey (who was friends with James the mafia man - Annabels new friend, he gave her his number and said to call if there was any trouble, and to drop his name and we'd be safe!), Justin, Roger and Rogers Dad, and Patrice who was completely mental and sang alot of karaoke with us! Even Marie did a few numbers and she has a fantastic singing voice, although anyone sounds fantastic next to Selina and I slaughtering Back For Good!
Clearly Annabels mafia connections had done some good, as there was a contiinuous flow of free beer - they just kept bringing out jugs of it! By 1 am I was ready to call it a night, my good record of knowing when to stop is most derfinately over, but the horrendous hangover the day after was totally worth the amazing night!
We met up with Alice in Sandakan to say goodbye when we got back from KK - the sleep on the plane and a large portion of chips did me a bit of good and I'm ready to start on our welcome home party now!
It's been such a fantastic week! I really miss Tuaran, The Rasa Ria and obviously all the Orang-Utans and people! We're going back to stay in the hotel when we finish so at least we'll get to see them all again!
Right, dinner time, I've missed Amoi's cooking so badly this last week and I can't wait for my vege burger! And then party time! We're going to Sepilok Laut tomorrow - its a 5km walk to get there so I'm thinking it won't be another messy one!