I know some might say that Turtle Island Parks is to much tourist and not good for the turtles. And that was also my assumption before going. But i must say I was surprised. The facilities, accommodation, food etc. is nothing to write home about but that is not why you are there so that doesn't matter.
The experience to see turtles laying eggs is amazing and in my opinion the rangers do a good job in protecting the turtle having people stay come forward in smaller groups, pointing out that people shouldn't use flash (which nobody did) etc.
You will always meet people who think this i terrible or have seen a turtle laying eggs when they where the only one around, and that's nice. Good for you. But Turtle Island Borneo is a good place to spot this fantastic animal especially is you are not on an on-going-around-the-world-trip-with-all-the-time-in-the-world.
I can only recommend a trip to Turtle Island Borneo. The only thing that is difficult on this trip is to find information before you go. Therefor I've made a small site giving you some information about the trip. Besides this read reviews on
the Internet and you are good to go.
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre does a great job in trying to educate people about the plight of orangutans and caring for orphaned, injured or displaced orangutans.
The Centre provides several time spots for viewing videos of the work being done, and twice a day tourists can venture to a viewing platform to watch orangutans arrive for feeding.
Be aware that it can get very hot waiting for the feeding sessions so bring a hat, sunscreen and something to drink. Beware also of the 'creepy crawlies' that inhabit the jungle!
There are several Fat Cat restaurants and cake shops around the city centre. The cake shops sell a variety of rich cakes - perfect for after dinner indulgence.
And if you want to try something a little different, stalls in the centrepoint precinct sell sweet corn icecream.
A couple of kilometres east of central Sandakan is Sim Sim Water Village. Sim Sim is one of the largest water villages in Asia - home to more than 25,000 people. Access into the village is easy with several solid concrete pathways. The villagers are very proud of their homes - many are brightly painted and have beautiful gardens of potted plants - and are happy for tourists to have a look. Some of the houses were considerably larger than what I expected. They have fresh water and electricity but the plumbing....
Well worth a look!
The Puu Jih Shih Temple is located on a steep hill affording excellent views across to Sandakan Bay. It is located about 4 km out of the town centre (10 - 15 RM by taxi).
The impressive temple has well kept gardens. Entry is free (there is a donation box). A long line of statues borders the entrance road. Inside are several large buddhas.
The temple grounds are a cool place for reflection and catching a breeze on a hot afternoon.
If you are in Sandakan and have an hour to spare, you can do worse than visit the central market. It houses stalls of all kinds - downstairs is fresh produce: meat, fish, chicken, fruit and vegetables, upstairs is an eclectic range of goods from bags to sarongs, kitchenware to dried foods.
The market is very clean, although the fish section can get a little smelly towards the end of the day.
Prices for traditional motif sarongs are good and some bargaining is possible.
Of all the weird things I have done in the course of my travels, having a superfluous leg wax in Sandarkan surely ranks right up there among the strangest!
I should explain the context. I was returning from four happy years in Western Australia to move in with my then-fiance (now husband) in South Africa. I was flying the cheapest route with Malaysian Airlines, and ever ready to exploit the opportunities presented by a stopover, I stashed my baggage in the left luggage facility at KL airport and hopped onto a flight to Kota Kinabalu to embark on my swansong as a backpacker.
At the end of a wonderful couple of weeks in Sabah, I was somewhat unkempt, and began to worry about how this would affect my fiance's first impression of me after several months apart. I got it into my head that what I needed was a legwax and set off to find a beautician to Do The Deed.
Of course, Asians tend to be much less hairy, so finding a service provider to help me proved to be a bit of a mission. I trudged the backstreets of Sandarkan in the stifling heat and humidity and was beginning to despair when I spotted a logo that I recognised. Judging by the bewildered expression on the beautician's face, I was the first person to ask for a leg wax in living memory, and they set about trying to find the necessary materials. When they finally managed to locate the wax container, they opened the tin to find that the heat had rendered it entirely molten, and we had to rig up a fan to get the blasted stuff to set hard enough to extract the hair!
The supreme irony - which I only later discovered - is that the whole exercise was entirely superfluous as my German husband isn't in the slightest concerned by hairy legs, and would have been equally delighted to see me had I pitched up in my original hirsute form!
The Turtle island Park at Selingan and other islands protects a lot of turtles. It is most definitely not the best place to see turtles because of all the tourists. The island trip is expensive and has crowds of visitors clamouring to see the nesting turtle. Photography is extra and video not allowed. The snorkelling is poor and the island has very little going for it.
We had been on Pom Pom Island, off Semporna a few days before and there were as many turtles but without the crowds of people. It was also excellent snorkelling with upwards of 10 turtles seen on each snorkel trip. My recommendation is leave Selingan to the package tourists. Go and volunteer with TRACC on Pom Pom and actually enjoy the turtle nesting experience.
After lunch we headed back to Sepilok. By now its raining harder and we wondered if the the feeding area would be open. No worries!! The feeeding continued , on time and with fweer visitors. We were delighted when we arrived to see a mother and her baby . The tiny baby was about 9 months old. I wondered if they are ever dropped as the mom's swing high above in the trees as they cling on. We also see a small oprpan . At 6 year old she's smaller than normla as she was near death when she was resued . She seemed now however and full of energy.. We also see a couple of large Orangutans , who eat their fill and quicly disappear into the jungle.. We stayed until closing time and then with our camera chips full we say goodby to this magical place..
I hope the next generation does better at saving these important creatures from extinction and take the steps needed to preserve this amazing planet.
Only a 20 minute walk from the from the Sepilok Orangutan Rehab center, but we had our driver drop us here on our return from the Memorial Site.
This is a huge area with walkways through the rainforest. It would be paradise for botonists and bird watchers. The trees along the way are labeled and there are numerous tablets with full descriptions of many of the plants.
Overhead is a series of canopied walkways. Its fascinating to look down at the trees from above. It gives a whole different view of plant and animal life here.. There are many rare birds here and a couple of towers are availble to catch a better view.
At one end of the area is a botanical garden with a huge plant collection. Some favorites for me were the orchids and a huge fig trees. Oh and I loved the huge alocasia , the biggest I've ever seen. You could spend a couple of hours in this section alone!!
We arranged to have a taxi pick us up at the entrance of Sepilok Orang-Utan Center and take us the Memorial Site for a cost of 80RM including the wait.
The site was empty and so quiet when we visited. Its not a part of travel that I enjoy but I feel the need to come to pay my respect for the lives lost and to learn what I can form a not too distant history.
There are plaques explaining the horrors that once unfolded here. Where we stood by a green shaded hillside there was once a POW Camp of World War 11 British and Australian soldiers. This is the site of one of the most tragic tales of World War ,the Sandakan Death Marches. We climb the hill to a small museum and look at the pictures and read the account of the POW’s fate who were held here by the Japanese , in inhumane conditions.
The Sandakan Death Marches were a series of forced marches from Sandakan to Ranau which resulted in the deaths of more than 3,600 Indonesian civilians and 2,400 Allied POW’s held captive by the Japan Empire during World War 11. By the end of the war, of all the prisoners who had been incarcerated at Sandakan and Ranau, only six Australians survived, all of whom had escaped. It is widely considered to be the single worst atrocity suffered by Australian servicemen during the Second World War.
Along the way ,as the rain pored down ,we spotted a Waglers Pit Viper .The snake was well camouflaged and we were lucky to see it at all. It was wrapped around a branch ,eye level to us.
It is reported to be extremely venomous. Their venom is a strong hemotoxin, and is fatal to humans. It is an anti-social snake most often alone.
Even though it was close enough to touch we gave it the respect it deserved and kept our distance.
The Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation centre houses injured or orphaned Orang-Utans, caring for them and nursing them back to health before they can be released into the forest. Many are orphaned babies that cannot survive in the forest alone.
The center is literally next door to our hotel so after breakfast we walked over and watched the video, even though we had seen it already in the Nature Reserve in Kota Kinabalu.
Once the reserve opened we took the short hike along a raised wooden walkway to the feeding platform.
The playful and entertaining Long Tail Macaw Monkeys greeted us at the feeding platform. There were at least 80 of them swinging about and I must say they put on quite an opening act. We were careful to hold on tour belongings however as these little guys are notorious thieves!!
I had heard Sepilok is often quite crowded but there were only about 20 of us on the large platform. There is an advantage to the rain after all.
Finally the “stars” showed up, but only two .I was hoping for more but I understand, with wild animals you never know. The Orang-Utan is one of the most endangered of Malaysian wildlife species. Found only in Borneo and Sumatra, the Orang-Utans’ survival is constantly threatened by forest fires, felling of trees, poaching and illegal hunting. The Orangutans are fascinating to watch with their all too human expressions and crazy red hair!! They are skillful acrobats and maneuver around the ropes, trees, and vines effortlessly. We watched until they climbed higher and higher and were eventually swallowed by the jungle.
The ticket to Sepilok is 70RM including a 10Rm camera fee. The ticket is good for the whole day so we left kn
We visited here during the monsoon .
The rain started in early evening and it added to our atmosphere as we enjoyed a cold beer at the Banana Cafe before dinner .
That night however the rain came down with a fury. It was the loudest and heaviest I’ve ever experienced. A part way through the night we began to wonder if we would be washed away.
Thankfully it eased to a normal stream just before morning and we drifted to sleep to its steady beat.
Morning dawned cloudy but the jungle let us know all was well by a cheery chorus from its many birds.
As soon as we arrived we arranged to go here to see the 4:30 feeding. This is a private sanctuary owned by a palm oil plantation owner.There are about 300 monkeys in the sanctuary and we were thrilled to see at least 70 of them. Wow what an experience , we really got to see them up close and personal. We spent over an hour here watching the monkeys interacting with each other and taking hundreds of pictures.
Honestly I think I was as much in awe of these as I was with the orangutans.They are quite a spectical with their huge noses and their pot bellies. The big nose is thought to be used to attract females and is a characteristic of the males, reaching up to 7 inches in length. They are one of the world’s most unusal animals.
There are two large family groups here, along with a group of bachelors. Each group kept to themselves and dined separately
The proboscis monkey is unique to Borneo and a protected species. They live mostly in the mangrove forests and are in danger of extinction. Its total population has decreased by more than 50% in the 36–40 years to 2008 due to ongoing deforestation and hunting.
The proboscus have a very complicated digestive system .Food must ferment ( which is why they have pot bellies) They cannot survive captivity. Deforestation is their biggest threat.
We were so fortunate to see them..The cost for the taxi ,and the entrance was $100.00 for the two of us .This included the driver waiting. It was so worth it for this once in a life time viewing.