In Sepilok, we stopped off at a random food court on the side of the road for lunch. I liked the fact that we seemed to be the only tourists here.
I ordered a Meehoon Goreng Singapore. It was way too spicy. I suffered through this one and didn’t even get a quarter of the way through before I gave up. The soup it came with was good though.
Chicken and mayo with rice. This was nice and mild for The Koala.
A’s fried noodles with an egg on top. This is a ubiquitous dish and for good reason. It’s yum, cheap and filling.
Cruising in Sandakan
On Christmas morning, Mr Aji dropped us back at Sandakan airport where we had a rental car waiting. I’d been a bit worried about renting a car in Borneo. I was worried that we might end up with a clunker on dodgy jungle roads. Instead, the roads were smooth and the car turned out to be a super sweet ride.
Because we arrived in Sandakan on Christmas Eve, we had arranged with Hertz to pick up the car on Christmas day. Hertz was closed on Christmas day, but they let us have the key a day early at no extra charge.
The car was 185RM / $82NZ / $61US per day. We found this was the going rate for a standard car in Sabah, but the model we got was usually double that price. Splitting the rental between the 5 of us, this really was the best way to get around the area. Most tourists take taxi around Sepilok, but with 5 of us, it would be 2 taxis to every destination. The other option was to join a tour, but a guide really isn’t necessary for the attractions that we went to in Sepilok.
I highly recommend Hertz car rentals at Sandakan airport.
Our car was pretty big so was difficult to park at times.
Car Rental Highlights
- Heaps of room in the back for all of our packs.
- Air conditioning.
- Sweet sounds via ipod.
Car Rental Tips:
- You must have a credit card to book a car.
- Make sure they put in your CVC number, not your PIN. I spent over $20NZ on the phone to my bank because the guy asked for my PIN when he should have been asking for my CVC.
- You must have an international drivers license. Although the renter and the driver doesn’t have to be the same person.
- Bring an ipod to plug in.
- Petrol is cheap here.
Palm plantations are just about everywhere in Sepilok. They don’t look that offensive, but everywhere there are plantations is another place that wildlife cannot live in or even pass through.
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
A ticket gives you a full day pass so we came for both the morning feeding and the afternoon one. This isn’t a zoo and the animals can roam where they please. We were waiting around near the entrance when I noticed something on the roof. It was an adult female climbing over the roof and she climbed over and headed right to where we were standing! The staff freaked out and got everyone indoors of the ticketing office until the orangutan moved on. She wasn’t menacing, but I’ve heard that an orangutan can rip a grown man’s arms off so I guess they didn’t want to take any chances.
The morning feeding was packed with busloads of tourists. There was a troop of naughty macaques and some juvenile orangutans.
There were no buses of tourists at afternoon feeding and no naughty macaques either. Just 2 adult female orangutans and a tiny baby.
Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
The most expensive entrance fee out of all the sanctuaries, but totally worth it for the close encounters with the proboscis monkeys. Maybe because it’s fairly out of the way and more expensive to get in, this place was really empty on the day we visited. Don’t miss out the video that they show. It’s really informative and entertaining and will give you a new appreciation for the proboscis monkeys. They are gentle creatures and the enlarged nose doesn’t bother me anymore. They live in the mangroves and suffer every year during the dry season.
Sandakan Crocodile Farm
Give this one a miss. There are much more animals than crocs and I found it super depressing. Apart from the injured crocs in quarantine, the other animals appeared to be good condition but the enclosures were dismal. One croc was 45 years old and had been there for 43 years. Considering the prison-like enclosures, 43 years in a cell isn’t something to be proud of.