Land of the Orang-utan

We left Semporna today to move over to Sandakan, a town on the northern edge near ancient forest. We’re staying at the Forest Edge Lodge, and, as you can see from the photo, the vegetation is lush.

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After having a great meal at the lodge (satay with coconut dipping sauce, vegetarian curry, fried tofu), we headed over to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Reserve which was about a 10 minute walk. The reserve takes young Orangutans that are orphaned and gets them to an age where they can be released. The animals live in the reserve, in the wild, so to speak, not cages. They put out some food twice a day for them which include native fruits and plants. There were found younger apes and one older one (based on size). Here are some photos:

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Kapolai and Mabul

Today we visited the island of Kapolai. Well, none of the island is above the waterline. But they’ve created a resort on stilts. We didn’t get to visit the stilt resort, but we snorkeled the reef.

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It was quite good. Here are some features:

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Later, we went over to Mabul. The snorkeling was not that great over there, but we did see a few fish that we had not seen elsewhere. Here’s a photo of the village next to the dock.

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Finally, back at the hotel, we saw this large heron on the building across the street.
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We came to learn by watching him, that he was fishing for birds, i.e., the swallows flying overhead. They must land near his perch and he snatches one and then eats it. Life can be short in this ancient ecosystem.

Mataking Island

We didn’t stay at the resort (photo below), but we did land on the island and go snorkeling there. (Photos on following posts.) I can’t say enough good things about the location as it had it all. Nice flat reef for snorkeling, and a sloping decline to the depths. Large fish like trevally and schools of other fish would swim the edge of the decline, and so, as a snorkeler, it was great because we saw both large and small fish. It was like an open water swim, but over the flat reef. The flat reef is actually a sandbar that used to be part of the island but has been reduced.

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Semporna Dive Town

This small town has two sections. The first section is the main town, which is poor, but developing. Lots of activity; Malaysia is on the move. The second section of town is the dive portion. This is the upscale part of town where the grocery store is and sit-down restaurants (as opposed to the back-alley food stalls in the other part of town). Here’s a photo of the upscale portion:

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Here is a photo of the dive boat (you can see the town mosque in the background) and a couple of local fishing/transport boats.

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Here’s a photo of Kate with her morning coffee after just having breakfast. Fortunately, this great little place is NEXT DOOR (i.e., 15 steps) from the hotel door.

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Snorkeling in the coral triangle

Today we went snorkeling. The expansiveness and variety of coral and fish were stunning. If you have snorkeled over a reef in the US, then you will immediately understand when you see some of these photos (taken with a new Olympus TC-3 underwater camera). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Those are parrot fish in the third photo. We probably saw 50 or more species of fish, maybe 100. Over just one outcropping, I saw at least 15 different species.

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