Saturday, 11 April 2015

Orang Utans and Sun Bears

Our first a la carte breakfast is a limited success as I enjoy bean on toast - but the view more than compensates.

We’re at the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre before it opens at 9am and quickly walk to the feeding area, where one Orang is already hanging around waiting to be fed. We barely give him a glance as we head to the outdoor nursery where the younger Orangs are due to be fed. The little ones are so endearing, and there’s much playfighting as they argue over the most delicious fruits.

We watch them for a while before returning to the feeding platform for the 10am feed. There are a few Orangs present and we are enjoying watching them until the heavens open. It begins to rain really hard and I’m struggling to keep my camera dry.
Suddenly there’s a commotion at the end of the viewing area. Cheria, one of the adolescent males, decides that he wants to be as dry as the tourists and heads for the shelter.
The ranger shoos everybody away from him and a stand off ensues as he stands his ground at one end of the covered area then ambles along the back of the seats. Finally all the Orangs melt away into the forest and we leave to visit the Sun Bear Sanctuary. 
We feel sorry for the sun bears, they don’t get much love compared to the Orangs. They are pretty cute, small black bears with a distinctive necklace on their chest that varies from white to orange with or without spots but they have mournful expressions. We arrive in time to see them fed and watch them for a while before returning to the Sepilok Nature Resort to dry off.
For lunch we go to Lindung, a new restaurant between our resort and the rehab centre. Alex and I have a lychee and mint drink that turns out to be a sort of slushie and is delicious. The food is pretty good, too, although it’s hard going communicating with our waiter. Then we return to the resort and Alex chills in the wifi zone while Simon and I go for a walk round the grounds.
Our tickets are good for the entire day, so we’re back at the Orang Utan sanctuary for 2pm when it re-opens. There are already orangs at the feeding platform and we stay to watch them but Alex is keen to see the babies and the ranger is hustling us that way too. I’m keen to stay and watch the ones that are here. Simon and Alex go and so does everybody else – I stay and watch the two Orangs who are here, really enjoying the time alone with them.

When they move out of sight I follow Simon and Alex to the outdoor nursery and watch the youngsters frolicking. They really are adorable and seem to display the same traits as a human child. There is much rough and tumble, and it’s often impossible to see how many Orangs there are in a bundle.
Feeding time approaches and we all return to the feeding platform. The Orangs come down from the trees one by one and eventually there are five on the platform. Suddenly there is much excitement as the keepers bring out the milk and a nursing mother comes down from the trees. She drinks deeply and then squats on the platform and begins to groom her baby.
It’s a beautiful afternoon and everyone is enjoying watching the Orangs but suddenly mischief appears in the form of Cheria. He calmly walks along the rope above the viewing area and drops down to eye level where he appears to be striking a number of poses specifically for his audience. He lacks the wide eyed innocence of the other Orangs and has an air of barely submerged menace about him. We’re all fascinated.

Finally, the ranger tells us that it’s time to leave and we reluctantly make our way to the exit. On the way out we inquire about the night walk but decide that having done night walks in Mulu and having them to come in Abai we’d rather chill at the resort. We find ourselves a spot in the upstairs bar and stay there until dusk, when we shower and change for dinner.

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