Happy morning at Orangutang Sanctuary

Kuching Travel Blog

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Happily one other had signed up to see the Orangutangs at Semenggoh Wildlife Sanctuary about 40 minutes out of town. Chris (Ireland) and I left the Hilton at 8.30 a.m. No leisurely brekkie for me this morning! Was good to have a gossip with another westerner tourist...but I was not feeling very well as a cold I picked up at Changi was much worse today...felt very stuffy in the head and had a terriable cough.

Enjoyed looking at the roadside scenery on the way to the sanctuary. Once there we drove into the  carpark close to the official feeding area. ...Other tourists who had caught the local bus out from town had to walk into the area...not fun in the heat and humidity that was happening even at this early time of day...well we are in the JUNGLE!!!! The sanctuary is very close to a beachside resort at Damai Beach.

Insect eating plants - everything is bigger in the jungle!
Saw glimpses of the coast as we drove to the park.

Our "tour" leader/driver advised us to leave waterbottles and handbags etc in the car boot as the cheeky orangutangs have been known to snatch things from unwary tourists .....looking for food. I decided to wear my passport wallet around my neck (usually keep it in a zipped pocket in my "threaded with saftey wire in the strap" travel bag) and keep the larger bag in the car boot.  BIG MISTAKE GIRL!!!!!!!!

We walked down to where the rangers were and were taken to a little picnic area to see the oversize venus fly trap insect eating plants..very interesting but we were all keen to see the Orangutangs! Then the rangers give a talk about the Sanctuary and give the rules which include no food or drinks, keep very quiet stay in the viewing area, and dont get too close to the Orangatangs as you have to remember they are wild jungle animals.

Mother and 2 year old baby
One of the rangers at this point showed us his leg that had been bitten by one of the orangutangs a couple of weeks ago...MY GOD...it was pretty horrible.. I tell you NO-ONE was thinking of getting up and close to an Orangutangs after seeing that!

We entered the jungle track feeling a little nervous but excited...all was quiet except for the "Hoo Hoo" of one of the rangers at the feeding platform calling the Orangutangs to "Breakfast" (There are 2 feedings a day and it is only as a supplementary for the animals...so it can be a bit of luck as to whether you will even see any come on any particular day.)

We stood on the newly made wooden viewing platforms..by now there were about 40 odd people including a school group.....everyone had their cameras at the ready .

Just hanging around
....and soon I could see a couple of treetops swaying in the distance...An Orangutang was coming! It is an extraordinary sight to see these strange creatures move so gracefully and effortlessly through the jungle trees..I was enthralled! Even more so when after a visit from this 4/5 yr old male we saw 2 mothers and their 2 yr old babies...and another young male. They showed quite human characteristics...one baby ws really outrageous and cheeky..."stealing" food off Mum, playing around with older brother, running back to Mum for a cuddle when it all became to much . The other liitle one did not leave its Mother at all but clung on like anything...this Mother also seemed to be more wary whilst feeding. Interesting to observe such different personalities in such a short time.
Mother and baby

After an hour or so the rangers ask everyone to leave so we went back out along the jungle path and read some of the information about the sanctuary and individual orangutangs that is posted on noticeboards. The Sanctuary is very well set up.

Upon our return to the car I immediately took my passport wallet off as it was SO HOT and HUMID it had really been annoying me wearing it under my clothes....THIS IS THE LAST TIME I CAN RECALL HAVING IT.....

I THOUGHT I put it straight back into my other bag after getting that out of the boot but this appears NOT to have happened as that is the last i saw of my passport wallet.....I only noticed the loss about 2 hours later when I went to get money out of an ATM Teller machine at a Kuching Bank!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Although I was still feeling quite off colour and coughing like a sick dog I had got our driver to drop me off at the Kuching Museum as we got back to town .

Ranger and older male
....I had a lovely wander round...then walked to the Textile Museum (good displays here) ...past a few Gold shops and into the bank......where upon discovering I had NO PASSPORT....NO CREDIT CARD.....and NO CASH....I think I went into shock!?!  All I could think was that I had left my passport wallet in the car when I was dropped off at the museum....so I ran back to the Hilton to find the driver  smiling at me...my first thought then was that he had found it...but no...he was just being friendly and greeting me with a smile...which soon faded as I told him I couldn't find my passport wallet.

The next couple of  hours are a bit of a blur as first we searched the car...NOPE...then drove back out to the Sanctuary to check the carpark, or if it had been handed in.

Kuching National Museum. Lovely gardens and some good displays.
..NOPE... then I raced back through the museum while my driver asked around....NOPE...FINALLY had to BELIEVE....it was all GONE!!!!!

The Hilton Staff were very sympathetic and couldn't do enough to help me...I was very upset (naturally) and crying all over the place so I am so glad they gave me such support at this emotional, traumatic time. A Hilton security man took me down to the local Tourist Police and helped me fill tell my story and fill out the forms etc.. Whilst there I saw a letter posted up for British Nationals ....."What to do if you lose your passport in Sarawak". I read this and noted down what they reccomended as thought I would probably have to use some of the steps suggested...YES INDEED! It also made me feel slightly less STUPID as I obviously wasn't the only one this ever happened to!?!  Took approx 1 1/2 hours to complete the report and get the copies needed to get the next things done. ( I actually typed the report into the computer as the policeman was not very confident typing in English!!!!)

Returned to Hotel and warmly greeted by staff ... then  put they through phone calls to Australia ...( Travel Insurance; Sister) and to the nearest Australian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur...not charging me anything for these calls . My travel insurance were quite sympathetic and gave me a list of things I needed to do..such as cancel credit card and passport, get police report (at least THAT was done) and gave me Embassy number to ring. My sister was marvellous...Calm and matter of fact that everything would be alright balanced with just the right amount of sympathy and caring.

The Embassy told me to ring back in the morning as it was after working hours !!!! What a slap in the face! I still get angry thinking about that particular phone call!!!!!!

By now I was exhausted emotionally and feeling completely drained...and alone!....and sick. I cancelled the visa card by phone and was told there was no way I could get emergency funds,  reported my lost passport over the net, and emailed my sister again.  I discovered the loss about 1p.m. and it was now 7p.m. Hilton staff (so kind) gave me a free dinner voucher and told me to go and rest in my room for a bit. I quickly checked my emails again to find one from my sister with the name and phone number of an Honarary Australian Cosulate living in Kuching.

I still don't know how she found this out! So I then rang Mr. Bob Chew and told him my tale. He was very nice and told me he would see how I could get a new passport and would ring me back.  I did go for dinner but couldn't eat much or enjoy it as still very upset. Got chatting to the staff there and they were all very lovely. I was still coughing horribly which just didn't help at all!!!! Once I got to my room there was no way I could relax and I just cried, sat, felt very alone, smoked, for most of the night. At 11 p.m. Mr Chew rang back to see how I was and to let me know He had been talking to the Embassy and someone would ring me in the morning...and I would probably have to go to K.L. to get an emergency passport issued. You would think I would've felt better after that but still couldn't sleep so spent a very awful night wishing it were all over.


nadahati says:
Wow ... what an ordeal ... but yes, you are not the first to go through all that and you definitely will not be the last. Hope that didn't sour your experience too much though. Sarawak is lovely and it is a shame your stay "ended" the way it did.

Embassies (regardless of the country they represent) always seem to be very rigid about their opening and closing hours. It's not much help at all ...
Posted on: Sep 07, 2008
boxinbcn says:
It's such a horrible feeling when you realize that you've lost something. It's nice to hear about all the kind and helpful people!
Posted on: Sep 01, 2008
breath1724 says:
you poor thing!!! you lived through one of my biggest travel fears-but it is so great to hear that there were people willing to help you out!
Posted on: Nov 23, 2007
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Insect eating plants - everything …
Insect eating plants - everything…
Mother and 2 year old baby
Mother and 2 year old baby
Just hanging around
Just hanging around
Mother and baby
Mother and baby
Ranger and older male
Ranger and older male
Kuching National Museum. Lovely ga…
Kuching National Museum. Lovely g…
photo by: aotw