Borneo – Orang Utans

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It was difficult, but we said goodbye to our beloved aLoft. Air Asia took us on a short hour and a half flight and dropped us in Kuching – the capital of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo.

Kuching is just like Grandma’s house. It’s cozy, smells a little different, it’s too warm, and is filled with unnecessary clutter, but yet you are attracted to the idea of staying longer than you should while you slowly take in the colors and quirkiness. Cat statues, figurines and street names that don’t let you forget this is the city of cats. The promenade is magical and the relative lack of tourists makes this place even more of a gem.

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The four of us wandered around the town before finding Bing! coffee shop. After a coffee and good conversation about James terrorizing his high school faculty, we continued to wander through the sleepy streets.

For lunch we found Magna Carta café. The open-air wrap porch was the perfect place to spend several hours of the afternoon hiding from the sun.

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It was a relatively early night for me, which allowed for James to enjoy time with his parents sans his sidekick on the rooftop of the Lime Tree.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

By 8 a.m. John, Jude and I were waiting for James to stroll into the lobby so we could head to Semenggoh Orang-Utan Nature Reserve.

Established in 1975, the Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Center is a place where injured, orphaned or handicap orangutans live. They are encouraged to forage for food and build nests all on their own so they can eventually be released into the wild.

The feeding time for the fruitarians was at 9 a.m. and the orangutans decided, unlike James and I are capable of doing, arriving on time. Before we even walked in, a grandma and a young orangutan were playing in the rafters of the viewing platform.

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We were also amused by one male swinging around on the ropes and collecting coconuts from the sanctuary guide.

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The two orangutans came down to the ground halfway through our viewing time. There in the middle of the dozens of visitors the two wrestled, tickled and played on the floor in the middle of the excited crowd as if nobody was watching.

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Just before 10 a.m. the two decided to make their grand exit, and they did so arm in arm as they walked away from the crowd.

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At 10 a.m. we were forcefully asked to leave the center, as the whole goal is to eventually send the orangutans back into the wild, they wanted to minimize viewing times and exposure to humans.

We headed back to the visitor center and as Jude was buying water, an overly excited guide ran in shouting for everyone to hide their water bottles. The orangutans are fed milk via plastic water bottles, so when they see visitors drinking out of or carrying water bottles, the orangutan rightfully believes that it belongs to them. You can imagine how that ends.

The two sociable orangutans were quickly coming to have a seat at the café. They sat around and posed for some photos before our driver reminded us it was past time to leave.

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That afternoon James and I spent a generous chunk of time back at the hotel while John and Jude enjoyed Kuching. James was productive doing his PR consulting and I took the opportunity to apply for a dream job back in Seattle.

For dinner we decided to go to Top Spot Seafood. A dozen neon-lit signs set the mood for seafood eateries that are permanently parked on the top of a massive parking garage.

Plastic tablecloths and chairs are heavily sprinkled on every available surface area, and you can’t tell where one food stand begins and another ends. The place is filled with locals and tourists and buzzing with excitement. We found a table and unable to understand the majority of the menu, had our waiter order for us. Minus the squid mixed into our chicken noodle dish, everything was incredibly good.

We had a fun evening sitting on the rooftop enjoying the food and laughing with one another.

Our first two days in Borneo couldn’t have been better!


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