Thursday, April 6, 2006

Sandakan 02-12-2005

Hello hello, s'me again.
As per title, we're in Sandakan, currently surrounded by children shouting encouragement for very (very) loud computer games. We're on the third floor of a dingy shopping center, sitting in the dark (all the better to see the screens with I guess) and typing. Or trying to type anyway, D's getting very frustrated over a runaway W key on his keyboard.
This is not what you'd call a happening sort of town, we've wandered the streets, eaten curry for almost every meal, walked up the top of the hill to see the panoramic views promised by the LP guide... or at least we tried. Halfway up it started to spit with rain, 30 seconds later it was a downpour. Never gotten so wet in such a short amount of time, bit like jumping into a swimming pool fully clothed and then walking up a big hill but never mind. Never see rain like that in little old Adelaide so it has novelty value. Fortunately the aforementioned lookout had a roof (courtesy of the local rotary club) so we sat and waited out the rain in the company of a few rather bemused Malaysian men (probably wondering what sort of people don't recognise when it's going to rain). It was a pleasant walk back down through a little bit of dripping forest on a very slippery path.And that's about all there is to see in Sandakan.
But nearby there is a place called Sepilok (probably translates into 'The place of Tourist hoards) where there is an oranutang sanctuary. So being the good little tourists we are we toddled along this morning to have a look. Now bearing in mind that the last couple of days here we've seen 3 other tourists and that's it so even tho we KNEW we were going to Sabah's premier tourist attraction I didn't think that there'd be THAT many tourists there. But there were, probably about 100 or so of them (ok fine, US - although I like to think we're a little different because we spend less money ).But the actual oranutangs were pretty cool, we were lucky enough to see quite a few of them, at least 10 including a mother and baby (insert awwww noise here) and a whole heap of macaques too. All the oranutangs were juveniles (apart from mum and bubs) so we had a whole variety of sizes from very very small - human toddler size - up to half adult sort of size. Very entertaining, they look a little bit like famine babies I thought (sorry, is that completely politically incorrect?) with long dangly arms and legs, bit fluffy heads and pot bellies. But the tourists OMG! I just wanted people to just pipe down and watch for 5 minutes, so noisy. One guy (UK) in particular really bugged me when he reached out and held the hand of one of the orangs, geez mate are you blind? illiterate? just stupid? Clearly signposted in about 20 different spots ' please don't touch the animals' (risk of disease, plus they're trying to rehabilitate them back into the wild). Just gave me the shits cos I know he'd know better than that. Now he's just walked into the net cafe (leaning over to cover my screen ).
We hung around for a while after all the tourists left and watched the few remaining monkeys and orangs and listened to the cacophony of insects overhead, that was really nice. The jungle is unreal, makes me feel very small.Speaking of jungle, tomorrow we head out into in on a little tour for 3 days (2 nights) on the Kinabantan river. No idea what the actual itinerary, we booked it over the phone, arranged a time and then the guy hung up!It will be good to see a bit more of the real deal, the trip here on the bus we saw a little of actual jungle but mostly we saw miles upon miles of oil palm plantations and the occasional forlorn dead 500 year old rain forest tree trunk in the middle of it. Depressing. And just so you know, we're in a much nicer room this time, we even have our own shower (with hot water!! ) We're greeted by a smell of mothballs as soon as we enter the building (doesn't go through to our room fortunately) and on every landing there's a little dish of sand to put out your cigarettes in (there is actually the beginnings of an anti-smoking campaign here but it has a LONG way to go).
On the hunt for a laksa soup tonight but all there seems to be here are curry shops, KFC (the curry shops do a crispy chicken which has miles on KFC) or cake. Already it feels like we are running low on time, we're going to be in an awful hurry to get to Kuching in good time, oh well, we'll see how we go.

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