After a thirty minute 7am flight we arrive in Sandakan, east Borneo.
Yesterday we took a two-hour journey to the base of mount Kinabalu, the largest mountain in Borneo, standing at 4101 metres high. We chose to do the Linwagu trail, a 6 kilometre trek through the mountain’s lower level terrain (circa 1,500 metres), which would have been a lot easier had I not been carrying the extra 10kg (‘the boy’) on my back.
Kota Kinabalu has been all about the scenery – beaches, mountains and treks, but the areas surrounding Sandakan are all about the wildlife.
Although most people automatically associate Borneo with orang-utans, Proboscis monkeys are on the ‘must see’ list, particularly as they can only be found in Borneo amongst the mangrove swamps and riverine forests.
The monkey derives its name from their large, drooping, red nose of the adult male. (Think Gonzo from The Muppets.)
We decide to spend a full day at the sanctuary to visit both viewing platforms at feeding time and to watch the video reel detailing how the sanctuary was founded by Mr Lee, a local business man. Call me cynical, but unlike other primate sanctuaries I’ve been too I couldn’t help thinking that Mr Lee was only in it for the money rather than the welfare of the monkeys. The story goes that he bought a huge expanse of land to de-forest and turn into palm oil plantations. He’d destroyed the majority of the Proboscis monkey’s habitat, forcing them towards the coast, but then he had a change of heart and decided to save the last part of their forest and open a sanctuary. He also decided to open a large resort, shop and a café! Like I say, call me cynical, but I think Mr Lee saw the dollars.
Anyway, as much as I don’t like greasing the pockets of Mr Lee it was well worth the visit. ‘The boy’ loved watching the younger monkeys playing and swinging through the trees and unexpectedly we were able to get within a few metres of one family group. One very sad thing we witnessed was a mother carrying around the corpse of her baby that had died the previous day. They continue to carry the body around with them and spend hours picking the flies and insects off the fur until it finally decomposes.
Proboscis monkeys, tick. Orang-utans still to come….
Top tip of the day:
‘The boy’ was very uncomfortable today as he’s teething. We’ve found it handy to have a small see through make up case with us at all times containing baby essentials. Ours has the following in it: Calpol and neurofen sachets, teething granules, bonjela, hand sterilising gel, baby nail clippers, mini bottle cleaning brush, small bottle containing washing up liquid to clean milk bottles, spare dummy, small pack of baby wipes and a small bottle of factor 50 children’s sun cream.