Malaysia Part 4: Sepilok
After our three-day stay in Kota Kinabalu, we couldn’t wait to move into our small cabin in the beautiful nature of Sepilok. This place was so idyllic, we really wished to spent another night there. We totally recommend spending two or three nights at Sepilok Nature Resort, even if it’s slightly more expensive.
Travel from Kota Kinabalu to Sepilok
Travelling from Kota Kinabalu to Sepilok is again the simplest by plane. Both airports are small and neat and the flight itself only took about 45 minutes. While staying in the district of Sabah, you don’t have to pass the passport control. That’s why we found ourselves sitting in a Grab-car only ten minutes after our arrival in Sepilok. As we were hungry as hell and couldn’t find any vegan or vegetarian restaurant on Happy Cow nearby, we decided to visit a vegetarian restaurant we found on Google Maps before. Once we arrived there, we realised that there was an English menu available, but nobody seemed to speak or understand more than that. Finally, we’ve got some fried vegetables, a curry (we were not sure if it was really without diary) and boiled rice. We wouldn’t recommend eating there (that’s why we don’t mention the place), also because we found out that there was a so much better opportunity opposite the Sepilok Nature Resort. Nevertheless, we used our stopover to buy some water and soy milk in the close-by shopping mall.
The Sepilok Nature Resort
After finishing our preparations for the following days “away from any civilisation”, a Grab-driver took us to the Resort we booked in advance. It was such a beautiful place in the heart of nature and the perfect place to relax!
Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre
Another reason to come to Sepilok was the Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre. Because of the massive wood clearing on Borneo and the illegal hunt for the apes, more and more of the young animals couldn’t survive without the help of such organisations. After their rehabilitation, the apes will be released to the remaining rainforest as fast as possible.
As the Rehabilitation Centre is one of the touristic hot-spots in the region of Sepilok, the parking space was full of buses and cars as we arrived the entrance. The centre opens twice a day, when it is feeding time. We couldn’t wait to see the Orang-Utans again, after our adventure in Semenggoh several days ago.
When we were going to pay for the entrance, we noticed the signs asking for an additional camera fee. In the hope to get some impressive shots, we payed 3€ per camera. For his 400mm lens, Jim was asked to pay about 500€, which left us speechless. Needless to say, that was a big No-Go, no matter how much we love the great apes. After we locked our stuff, including Jim’s lens, in one of the lockers provided, we entered the path to the feeding platform.
Unfortunately, the feeding ceremony was not as impressive as expected. To be honest, it felt like visiting a zoo. The ropes and platforms impeded us from taking pictures of the apes.
We left the Rehabilitation Centre a little disappointed and with an inner unrest, because Jim left his photo equipment in the locker.
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
When you leave the Orang-Utan Centre, you come across the signs of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), which is located on the opposite of the street. The BSBCC is the home of sun bears who have been hunted and kept as pets in small cages. Since 2008, the BSBCC has rescued 61 of the animals and seven of them have been released to the rainforest successfully. Before the smallest bear of the world is ready for the release, a long and exhausting time is lying ahead. The animals never learned the ability to climb trees because of the inappropriate keeping in cages. In the wild, this ability is necessary for them to protect themselves from enemies.
We visited the Sun Bear Conservation Centre at the second day of our stay in Sepilok. The doors opened at 9 am and we were one of the first visitors that day. The way to the ticket counter lead us through the forest, giving us the chance to see some squirrels running through the canopies. After we bought our tickets, which are valid for the whole day, we waited about five minutes for the first sun bears playing on the ground. How cute and fascinating they are! Some of them were working hard, moving all the woods from one place to another.
Standing on the second platform of the visitor’s path, we could observe two bears who already learned to climb and showed us their skills. When they tried to climb the same tree together, they ended in a noisy fight and one of them landed on the ground. We have been there for a long time, and it was totally worth it. There have been some monkeys, playing in the trees and curiously observing all the visitors. After chatting with one of the staff-member of the park, he pointed at the tree above us: between all the green leaves there was a well camouflaged snake, a venomous Wagler’s Pit Viper! Jim took the opportunity and made some really impressive shots.
Rainforest Discovery Centre
When we explored Sepilok by foot, the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) aroused our attention. As we did not hear or read something about the Centre in advance, we have been a bit sceptical about it. In the end it was a very beautiful and quiet place and we wished we had had more time to explore the large and spacious centre.
As we reached the centre in the evening, not many people crossed our way. We only listened to the sound of all the birds around us. Unfortunately, we did not see many of them. Maybe you should do a guided tour, when you have more time than we did.
Between the treetops there is a canopy pathway leading through a part of the Centre. From one of the observation platforms we discovered some blue-crowned hanging parrots, sitting in an impressively tall tree. However, we were not lucky enough to see some of the Flying Squirrels living in the forest.
Vegan in the Middle of Nowhere
When you are on an island in the middle of rainforests, you have to be pleased by the simple things. We definitely were at “Mama Wati’s”.
The small cabin of “Mama Wati” is located opposite the Sepilok Nature Resort. The food there is simple and cheap, but so nourishing! When you are sitting inside, you can observe “Mama Wati” when she is cooking. We ended up having fried rice with vegetables for lunch and dinner – no idea what we would have done without this charming place.
Of course, you can also have lunch and dinner in the hotel. But, unsurprisingly, there was only continental food again: pizza, pasta, and white bread. Nothing of interest for us.
Although we were well prepared for breakfast (oats and soy milk), we decided to visit the hotel restaurant – just to explore their vegan options. We left disappointed, as they served only continental breakfast (…again). Where are all the fresh fruits growing all around?!
After a relaxing night and two exciting days in Sepilok, we moved on to Kinabatangan.
Malaysia Travel Log