A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Chewbecki

Last day in Borneo

So I'm heading home today, its been a fairly uneventful couple of days since I did the mountain, for a few reasons, firstly after climbing up and down said mountain I couldn't walk. On wednesday I managed to haul myself to Manunik (the smallest island in the Tungku Abdul Rahman national park) with Kirsten (who appears to have changed race after 3 days in the sun!), Fiona, Selina and Annabel. We just chilled out pretty much, I went parasailing which was good fun then we took the boat back at 3. We got a suprise when we got back - George, Ahman, Lynn and Amoy had all come to suprise us (after telling us they couldn't meet us in KK) so we all went for dinner and drinks in the bar downstairs, we also had some mango shisha in a hookah - Selina said it made her feel like the catipillar from Alice in Wonderland. I didn't tell her but I think she looks a bit like him.
The day after I woke up feeling pretty rough, just really sick with a bad stomach ache, I still went with Kirsten and Selina to get their tattoos - Selina got a moon and 3 stars and Kirsten got Cinta (the Malay word for love and the name of her favourite Orang-Utan) tattooed on her wrist. We went foir some lunch but by then I felt horrible so I went to bed for the rest of the day. The next day I still felt bad so went to the clinic, the doctor thinks its probably just from climbing the mountain and then having to much sun so I have a few different pills to take just to settle my stomach but I still feel crap and a half! My flight this evening is at 6 and I won't get into Heathrow until 6am (GMT) on sunday. Great!
Anyway, I better end this thing now. I just want to say to everyone I've met out here - you are all amazing and I will never forget any of you! Please stay in touch!
This really has been the best 2 months of my life, working with Orangutans is something that I have always dreamed of doing and I can't believe its over, I only hope that I will be able to do more to help these amazing animals in future! I also hope that the grand plans for the Sun bears go ahead! They really are such beautiful animals and need so much help! I will be doing my best to raise awareness for them back home!
I can't quite believe my time here is over, I feel so at home in Malaysia and hope to come back one day (hopefully when I am a high flying Primatologist! Fingers crossed!) I'm not sure how I'm going to cope back in England not seeing Orangutans every day! I will miss them all so much!
Right I'm off now! BYEEEEEE

Posted by Chewbecki 19:08 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Leaving Sepilok, KK and Mount Kinabalu

The last few days have been a bit of a rollercoaster. Leaving Sepilok and saying goodbye to everyone was awful, esspecially when I have no idea when I will see people again! I just want to say to everyoner I met there that you are all fantastic and made the last 2 months absolutely fantastic! We had a leaving dinner on friday night which was lovely but so sad to say goodbye to all the rangers!
Anyway, we left the rest house on saturday and flew from Sandakan to KK where we got to stay at the Rasa Ria for our last official night of the project! We met up with Marie for pizza when we arrived, but we found out shes leaving Rasa Ria! If she ever reads this I wish her the best of luck with everything and I hope her dreams of joining the police and setting up an animal shelter come true! I'm so glad we got to meet Marie before she left!
We stayed up for some cocktails after an amazing buffet dinner and saying goodbye to Naaemah who has been fantastic at organising!
The next day we had an early start - we had to say goodbye to Kate at 7 and then Katie at 9! Selina, Kirsten, Georgi, Fiona, Jen and I stayed around until 12 (Annabel and Emma stayed later), dropped our stuff off at summer lodge in KK and went for lunch at the rainforest cafe and an explore of the Filipino market and the handicraft market. Emma and Annabel arrived at 6 when we had to say another goodbye to Emma and Jen who went off to the airport.
We went for an Italian that night - I haven't had pasta in months and it was amazing! We decided we needed to load the carbs for the day ahead!
Yesterday was another early start, Selina, Annabel and I (Group 3 - one team, one way towards excellence!) left the hostel at half 7 with warm clothes and waterproofs! We took a taxi to Inanum where we took a bus to the Kinabalu park HQ which took about an hour and a half. We paid our entry fee then the money to climb the mountain and money for a guide. We started climbing at about half 11 and I can honestly say it was the most horrendous thing I've ever done. Sure the views were stunning but by the km 3 I was close to giving up, but I pushed through. Things got really bad as we approached Laban Rata, my ears were still giving me problems and I was breathless and dizzy. I did not love it. At all. It was such a relief to get to Laban Rata but I was dreading the 2.30am start to reach the summit. Which unfortunately Selina and I didn't quite make. I didn't sleep at all and was out of breath even lying in my bed - I was also absolutely perishing, it was friggin freezing up there! You wouldn't expect to be so damn cold on the equator! I was so gutted but I spoke to the others and decided that I really couldn't walk the 2.7km to the summit in the pitch dark, Selina left with Annabel but she had to turn back as she started to suffer from altitude sickness after another 0.5km. We were both so upset not to make it to the summit but it made us feel a little better when Annabel got back and said 'That was the most awful thing I've ever done.' They couldn't see the sunrise because of the mist, and she had never been so cold in her life, she couldn't even take photos because her hands were so cold! But Annabel I take my hat off to you, you did alot better than I could have! I am still really pleased with myself, it may only be 6km to Laban Rata but it was the hardest 6km ever, in parts there are steps that are almost vertical. Laban Rata is at 3000m up Mount Kinabalu, which at 4095m is the highest mountain in South East Asia, so I think I did pretty well considering I'm hardly the fittest person on the planet!
I quite enjoyed the walk down, it took about 4 hours but seemed easy compared to the 5 hour trek up where I was stopping to catch my breath what seemed like every step! And it was worth it for the buffet lunch when we got down! We arrived back at the hostel at about 4 and were greeted by a very brown looking Kirsten and Fiona (who had spent the day on Manukan) who had brought us cake! Genius!
Now I am sat in my sun bears t-shirt and thinking about the fact that I am never climbing a mountain again... well maybe I can managhe Snowdon.

Posted by Chewbecki 02:32 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)


I can't believe its over. I'm so totally gutted to have finished, I can honestly say the last 2 months have been the most amazing 2 months of my life! For the past 9 days I have been working at the clinic with the infant and juvenile Orangutans and it has been fantastic. I really felt that I was actually helping. The daily tasks we had to carry out were preparing milk, electrolyte and food for the Orangutans in the clinic and in quarantine. We also had to clean alot (Orangutans might be the only animals that can be sick all over themselves and sometimes you and still be cute!)
By far the most enjoyable task of the day was taking the Orangutans out to play and bathing the babies. We would take out 3 at a time - the juveniles (mostly aged between 3 and 4 years) in the morning and the babies (all under 3) in the afternoon. Unfortunately it rained a couple of days so we couldn't take out the babies, but having nothing to do gave uis a good oppurtunity to provide some enrichment for some of the Orangutans in quarantine. Rosalinda was a favourite of mine, she had fallen from a tree and broken her leg and so was confined to a small cage while it healed. She was very affectionate and got very frustrated as you can imagine and would cry out and try to grab me as I cleaned under her cage. I decided to give her food cut into small pieces inside a kung (dog toy) and she really seemed to prefer to work for her food, it also gave her something to do. We also gave Mui-Mui (a tiny new baby that Jen went to collect when she was confiscated from her owner) some baby toys to keep her amused. The other residents of the clinic include Rosa who was allowed out to play in the indoor nursery but suffers from an eating disorder so is very thin, although it was easy enough to tempt her with a honey sandwich! Boy was another sad inhabitant of the clinic - he was playing on powerlines and burned his arm which had to be amputated, Elen who was the Orangutan that was captured from the rainforest discovery centre in our first week is still there awaiting test results and it is hoped that she will be rteleased together with Boy. Oscar is in and out of quarantine quite frequently as he is usually hanging around the clinic causing trouble, unfortunately because of this habit it is likely that he may have to be moved to a zoo in KK. Tompong was moved from the ICU to quarantine in the middle of the week, she is very thin and was suffering from severe diarrhoea but its hoped that she is on the mend now.
There are 10 juvenile Orangutans that we took out to play in the trees and on the ropes for an hour in the morning, Sogo-Sogo was a particular favourite of mine (she is my adopted Orangutan), like Ganang she is very quiet and suffers from stress (she bites her bottom lip alot which I am informed is a sign of stress) she loves to climb and is very good at it, but she seemed a little out of sorts in the last few days, moving very slowly and often coming back down to sit with us. Some VIP guests came round on thursday and we were worried she'd show us up, but it was actually Rubin (the fatty of the group) who came down and put on a show! Fortunately he had recovered from eating leaves that stung his mouth the previous day (he was clearly very uncomforatble and was salivating and holding his mouth open, so I took him in and gave him milk, electrolyte and bananas!). Ampal is another interesting character, he suffers from a protein deficiency and is very skinny with quite thin hair. He was Selinas absolute favourite and loved it when we blew into his mouth! Nonong was another favourite, she has malaria and after a particularly bad bout lost the feeling in her left side and she is yet to start using it, despite this shes an excellent climber, shimmying herself along with 1 arm and 1 leg, unfortunately she won't be able to join climbing sessions with the older Orangutans until she starts to use her left arm and leg. Eniro is a character - he loves to pull your hair when hes in his night cage, and so we were dreading taking him out, but he was a sweetheart and liked nothing better than coming and sitting on each of our laps in turn! One day when Annabel was lying down (a little hungover!) he leapt onto her stomach for a hug! Poogel is a bit of a wimp (he looks alot like Rubin but not so fat!) a few times he freed himself as we got him out and it took 3 of us to get hold of him, although I felt that we reached an understanding by the end of the week though! We also took out Rosa, Gamai, Ungkoyon, Atama (who was always covered in sick!) and Tambi (always had a face on and looked like he was about to have a tantrum!).
The babies are all lovely, I don't think they are quite as charismatic as the older Orangutans yet, but they are so damn cute! Yee Siong is the littlest and some say the cutest - he looks a bit like a troll doll with his spiky hair! Afiq was my favourite, I loved how he held onto me and sucked my thumb through the bars of his cage! Cinta - the only baby girl apart from Mui-Mui is beautiful and very affectionate! Gembira and Ceria both look pretty similar (I had a much harder time in general learning who was who in the clinic!) and are both very sweet! And then there is Jaya, who can be lovely - we were forewarned that he was a devil when you bathed him, but he was fine with us, until we didn't take him out one day and he launched an attack on my arm - the bruise is horrendous, no one would have thought that such a tiiny sweet little baby Orangutan could make such a mark!
I've loved the clinic so much and I am so sad to be saying goodbye - it really was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do!
This week hasn't been all worj though, we had Wellsons leaving bbq and also Kirstens birthday night out - we went to the fun fair which was fantastic (and way cheaper than back home!) I particularly loved the ride that spun us round and had a guy dancing in the middle! Fantastic! Then we went onto karaoke at melody (Katie and I did our rendition of complicated... and bring me to life... and follow me....!) then to Tropical where we literally danced the night away - another fantastic night out!
I have to dash now, late for our leaving party! Will update again from KK!

Posted by Chewbecki 02:44 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Sepilok Laut and Sandakan

On Saturday we went to Sepilok Laut - a centre in Sepilok reserve in the mangroves. Annabel, Emma, Selina and I decided to trek the 5km there accompanied by Dusain. It was a really nice walk, although it rained torrentially for about an hour and by the time we got there we were drenched and covered in leeches! When we arrived there we met Katie, Jen and Kirsten who had driven to the coast then got a boat to Sepilok Laut with Sylvia, Naaemah and Amoy and 7 policemen (there for our protection apparently!) We arrived for around 12, 15 minutes after arriving we saw a Komodo dragon wating some prawn shells that they had thrown down! It was huge! Totally amazing! At about 1 we had some lunch and a nap then took the boat to a little fishing village where we were met by a lady who had 7 children! Alot of the local children were there and they performed a dance for us - they were so good! We were given cups of sweet coffee and some cakey type snacks and they passed a couple of very cute babies around!
When we got back to the reception we had a bbq expertly cooked by Sylvia and Amoy! We had a few drinks with the policemen (one of which looked exactly like the cowardly lion from the wizard of oz!) who I was told after a few beers miraculously spoke perfect english! At about 9 Dusain told us there was a crocodile in the water just a few metres from the building, we shone a torch and the light reflect off its eyes! It was quite a small one but it was so exciting! Really glad I got to see a crocodile (even if it was only the eyes!)
The next day we left on the boat at about 9 and then Ahman picked us up and we went back to the rest house to sleep! (The floor of the reception was not the comfiest place to sleep!)
Annabel, Selina and I had asked Dusain if we could go up to the outdoor nursery on Monday and he said we could. It was only Wilson there in the morning when we went up but it was great to be back! I got to meet Joey (who is so cute but a total menace) and Siti! And Austin and Hope were both there too hugging onto each other as much as ever!
Tuesday was a great day! We got up to get the 8.30 bus to Sandakan, it only costs RM 4 and takes about an hour. Quite a big group of us went (Fiona, Kate, Kirsten, Jen, Georgie, Emma, Katie, Selina and I) but we split up into smaller groups. Katie, Fiona, Selina and I went around a few shops and bough a few bits and bobs, then we took a taxi to the English tea house at Agnes Keiths house where we met Alice, Nina and co were also there as they wanted to film us together before Alice left Sandakan the next day. We had pimms at 11 o'clock, it was great! Then chips and cakes and things! Good stuff! Alice went to get her hair cut at 2 and we wandered around the shops for a little longer and briefly met Annabel and George on their 'date'! We had tried to get in touch with a tattooist through Amoy but had no luck, so Nina booked us an appointment at half 3 (shortly after Amoy's tattoist got in touch!) we had to go to a hotel where they had a room booked as the film team wanted to film it, we went up and Selina and I chose our designs - Selina went for an 'Aso' which is a Bornean dog/dragon hybrid that protects you from malevolent spirits, I got a Borneo Rosette on my foot, which is a stylised eye of the 'Aso' and they Dayak head hunters used to get them tattooed on their shoulders when they when they had sucessfully taken a head!
When I was getting my tattoo Amin (the artist who was doing me a Batik) called and brought my batik to the hotel, its absolutely stunning! And it turned out that Amin was related to the tattoist! Everyone seems to be related in Borneo! We left the hotel at about half 6 and took a taxi back to the rest house, it was so sad to say goodbye to Alice, I'm really going to miss her and I hope I can see her again soon!
When we got back we joined in Christines leaving party after dinner! Which turned out to be another messy one (involving another pile on - this time on me, and Katie getting stuck to a chair and running around with it attached to her - Amoy has video evidence) but very good fun! Have just started working in the clinic and I love it so far! Will update when I finish! TTFN!

Posted by Chewbecki 05:27 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Rasa Ria and Tuaran

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!

Posted by Chewbecki 03:38 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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