Sandakan War Memorial
Had a nice sleep in this morning. We got up at 9am and headed downstairs for the free breakfast. Malcolm and Julie were just finishing up their breakfast. Breakfast was average, toast, jam and boiled egg, can't expect anything more for a budget hotel. Today we were going to fulfil the reason for coming to Sandakan, we were going to see the Orang-utans at Sepilok and we were looking forward to it. We were also going to see the Sandakan Memorial which is on the way to Sepilok. Malcolm and Julie had done both attractions before when they were last here and were quite happy to do Sepilok again but not the memorial so they were going to spend the morning shopping then meet us at Sepilok at 2pm in time for the 3pm feeding.
After breakfast Vaughan and I headed out by ourselves to look for postcards which were proving hard to find! Most of the shops around the area were tailored for the locals. We caught the local bus at 11am for 3 ringgits (so cheap) and it dropped us off at the junction to the Memorial Park. The walk to the park was about half a kilometre but seemed forever in the heat and humidity. We passed some very nice houses along the way. When we reached the park it was free to get in, I wanted the bathroom so we headed up towards where the restrooms were near the tiny museum. Vaughan continued into the museum while I headed 20 meters down the path to the restrooms. I walked into the women's to find a bloke in there hosing away and he didn't even bother to shut the door to his cubicle! Then when I came out of my cubicle and tried to open the exit door, I couldn't open it.
Sandakan War Memorial
Much to my horror after a few hard tugs on the door I realised I had been locked in! The door was bolted from the outside, what idiot would do this without first checking if their was anyone in the bathrooms first! Well I spent the next 10 minutes shouting at the top of my lungs and banging the door trying to get someone's attention! After a final hard kick on the door someone finally heard me and let me out! I was not happy, I went up to the museum and found Vaughan happily reading away the information boards inside, he lost his water bottle quickly so I could quench my dry sore throat! The museum was excellent and told it how it was. The Sandakan Memorial is on the site of a Japanese POW camp for Australian and British troops and the start of the death marches to Ranau. Out of the 2400 troops that were marched through the harsh jungles only 6 survived and that is because they escaped! The atrocities and cruelty of the Japanese towards the prisoners was quite distressing to read about so much so I had to stop reading.
Gardens and Sandakan War Memorial
Time was getting on and we were getting hungry so we headed back down to the main road to a strip of shops that had a couple of cafes. The cafe was mainly locals and the food was cheap. As usual you order a curry and comes to you cold so I once again gave it them back to reheat! After lunch we parked ourselves on the side of the road in the blistering heat waiting for a bus, one happened along after 10 mins. We were charged 10 ringgits each which I thought was oddly steep and a young girl tapped me on the shoulder a while later and told me we were over charged and only should of paid 5 ringgits, cheeky conductor pulled a fast one on us! We were dropped off at the Sepilok roundabout and luck had it there was another bus waiting to take us to Sepilok, thank God it was there we didn't fancy walking the 2 kms in the heat.
At Sepilok, Malcolm and Julie were waiting having lunch in the cafe, they had spent their time going to the Rainforest Discovery Centre. We had a bit of time before the feeding so we looked around the Exhibition area with informative displays on the life times of the Orang-utan. We followed the boardwalk along through the rainforest and we heard a rustle to our left and found a male Orang-utan was swinging through the trees next to us, we stopped to watch him before he disappeared into the dense greenery. At the feeding platform people had already gathered, there wasn't a lot of shade and it felt extra hot there so Vaughan was suffering in silence. I can take the heat and humidity but it even got to me after a while. The Orang-utans and Macaques also knew it was banana time! So they too were making their way to the platform.
A baby Orang-utan was showing off its gymnastic talents on the rope until his mother grabbed him by the left hand and yanked him off, it was very funny to watch. Soon the keeper turned up and it was a race to see who could get the biggest and best banana! The Macaques were cheekily sneaking up from under the platform and taking bananas when the Orang-utans weren't watching, although one did get caught and was slapped on the head, it was very funny!! We watched the performance for about 20 minutes then Vaughan was getting too hot so we decided to keep going along the boardwalk back towards the exit. I left him at the exit and decided to walk back to see if I could see any more Orang-utans along the way. Most of them were still hanging around the feeding area, the crowd had dwindled and Malcolm and Julie were still there.
I stayed for a bit then started to walk back up towards the entrance only to be stopped by a ranger to warn me of a male Macaque lurking in the greenery near the boardwalk. He said it wouldn't be wise to try to pass him as he might take a bite! The male soon emerged and other Macaques were coming towards me on the boardwalk and before long a fight broke out among the Macaques, probably glad I didn't walk down there! I headed back towards the exit with Malcolm and Julie only to come across a small crowd one member of which was Vaughan gathered close to the railing where a large female Orang-utan was perched. We stood there and watched her and she couldn't of been any more than a couple of feet away and she didn't seem to mind us watching her. It was a fantastic experience to be close enough to study her. At one point she looked at us and the corners of her mouth turned up in a smile, it was amazing and it really made my day.
Look mum I can do the splits! Sepilok
After a while she got bored of us staring at her, opened the gate and wondered off in the opposite direction. All the time we spent watching her I managed to get some good photos and a video. After wandering through the shop and buying a couple of t-shirts, we headed back in to town on the bus. I got off a bit earlier to go to a souvenir shop, at last I found some postcards.
Come here you little sod! Sepilok
In the evening we packed our bags as we were leaving tomorrow, spent some time on the Internet then headed out along the waterfront for dinner. The place we picked had nice food and they served chicken that wasn't on the bone! I enjoyed my meal so much I had a second helping as did Vaughan! We went though a few beers too as it was happy hour! It was great end to a great day and we had enjoyed Sandakan, it had grown on us.
Tomorrow we would be heading to Sarawak for a new adventure in the rain forest.