After a brief stop at Kuala Lumpur airport hotel we got a flight to Sandakan in Malaysian Borneo (the north east of the island). Once we landed we were waiting for our luggage when a girl started chatting to us and asked us where we were from. Bizarrely she then wanted us to pose for a photo with her. Being quite British we just went along with it and didn't ask any questions, despite then discussing how strange it was afterwards. We were collected at the airport by our tour company with whom we'd booked a 7 night tour of Borneo who drove us to Sepilok to stay at a lodge close to the orang-utan sanctuary/rehabilitation centre.
We had two nights at Sepilok staying in a chalet. The main lodge looked out over the lake which had loads of birds and fish, and to our delight a couple of otters and monitor lizards (they were however very difficult to see). I managed to spot a monitor lizard swimming in the lake one afternoon which I was really happy about.
Here's the place we stayed:
Whilst we were in Sepilok we visited the orangutan centre, where they take in orangutans and try and get them rehabilitated and back in to the wild. The rainforest has been/is still being destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations which is now the main export and money maker for Malaysia. So many animals, including orangutans, are at threat of potential extinction. There is action being taken to try and save the remaining rainforest and certain areas are now protected though I'm unsure how effective or wide-ranging this regulation is.
We saw plenty of orangutans at feeding time, both the smaller ones still in the 'nursery' and the older ones who are allowed out to roam the surrounding rainforest areas at will. Once they are fully rehabilitated and released they sometimes still return to the centre from the adjoining forest (mainly because they know they can get fed at set times, though the centre do only put out what they call 'bland' food so that the released orangutans naturally hunt for other food they need in the forest). This young orangutan was just sat on the path area:
This older orangutan had been rehabilitated and was living in the rainforest, but returned with her baby to pick up some food:
After the orangutan centre we visited the sunbear conservation centre. Before going to Borneo I had never even heard of sunbears. They are the world's smallest bear and are endangered, again largely due to habitat loss.
A sunbear living in the forest (a very large area) at the conservation centre:
Afterwards we visited the discovery centre and garden, and a canopy walkway with our guide. We saw our second wild snake at the garden!:
As well as a green crested lizard that changes colour to adapt to its surroundings - here is a picture: