Welcome to Part 3 of the Borneo Adventure. If you’re thinking of travelling to Sarawak or planning a trip to Borneo I hope this series of journal style posts gives you some great ideas and insights about what to see and where to go.
Today I’m taking you to an Orangutan rehabilitation centre in the jungles of Sarawak and to an incredible food market just outside Kuching.
I hope you enjoy this flavour of Sarawak, and perhaps you may book a tour, as we did, with Borneo Ethical Adventures which started with a few days in lovely Kuching.
Here goes ….
I’m writing this listening to the strains of the Blues at the Kuching Waterfront Jazz festival. It’s late, and the waterfront is still rocking – the vibe is incredible and the temperature is gloriously balmy.
It’s been another action packed day with Borneo Ethical Adventures which started with a wonderful breakfast buffet watching a downpour, rain spattering, splintering like shards on the swimming pool below us at The Grand Margherita hotel.
Bright yellow ponchos were packed in our rucksacks in anticipation of a steamy wet tropical day and we walked across the road and boarded the bus heading for the Sunday Market – open naturally on Saturday too 😉
The market was huge – like a metropolis – better than any Western supermarket.
It was filled with the fresh earthy smells of ripe fruit and vegetables, as well as the pungent smells of spices, fish and various tasty, exotic, local delights that were being chopped and cooked up fresh at the street stalls.
Alison, our intrepid leader, bought strange and wonderful tasters for us to try on the bus journey heading to Matang.
She also purchased an array of fruits, some suitable for the enrichment parcels we would be making later at Project Orangutan, along with some foodie gifts for the project volunteers, and tempeh to be cooked up for us with lunch.
“What I’m loving about this Borneo Ethical tour is the focus on others. It’s about giving and sharing and enriching others, as much as the adventure itself.”
On the journey, during much chatting, we tried peanut pancakes, glutinous rice, banana chips, dragon fruit, and Chinese apple among other savoury fried foods – the small fried parcels consisting of garlic, long bean, onion and chilli mixed with flour and deep fried were fantastic.
I particularly liked the Sarawak Layer Cake – otherwise known as kek lapis.
We arrived at Project Orangutan, at the Matang Rehabilitation Centre, and were introduced to the lovely volunteers who explained what we would be doing, and why.
Then we were seated us at a large trestle table to create enrichment parcels for the Orangutans and the Honey Bears as part of our volunteering.
Most of us had also packed donations for the NGO’s we’d be visiting on this trip.
We’d brought gifts for the Orangutan centre from Australia – essential oils, towels, different textures of fabric and an assortment of other slightly odd things which will be used to make toys and enrichment parcels for the animals – things they can touch, smell and be entertained by.
Soon we were all busy cutting up hessian sacks, and sewing them into ‘pockets’.
Into the pockets we stacked egg boxes filled with tasty morsels – things like large leaves smeared with peanut butter and one or two nuts, a few cornflakes and some sawdust.
Then we sewed them up again, for the Orangutans and Honey Bears to ‘unwrap’ like gifts.
It was amazing how relaxing a craft and sewing hour was for us humans – while enriching the Orangutans it seemed like we were also being enriched!
There was much chatter, and much competition to see who had the neatest stitching of course!
But mostly it was so lovely to make new friends and learn more about our fellow travellers and their lives, as well as share yet another new experience with them while volunteering for an important cause.
Afterwards we joined the Project Orangutan team for a behind the scenes insight into orangutan conservation and rehabilitation, spending time with experts who shared their vast knowledge with us.
We toured the rehabilitation centre and we were given an informative commentary by Leo, which was an incredible insight into conservation.
We learnt mind blowing things, not least the extent of the exotic animal trade which is so devastating, and the terrible life-long effect it has on the long term livelihood of rescued animals.
Project Orangutan accommodates the growing demand for Sarawak’s endangered species in need of rescue and rehabilitation and it’s evolved to become much more than a traditional rescue centre. Orphaned or rescued orangutans are also taught how to survive in the wild.
Leo threw the enrichment parcels into the animals’ enclaves, calling the Orangutans out by name, and we watched, enthralled as the Orangutans tore or picked them open and sifted through sawdust to find the hidden gems.
Their expressions and antics were captivating, and often very funny.
It was at once an intriguing, sad, and yet uplifting experience. We learnt so much about orangutans, the tragedy of disappearing rainforests, and the plight of endangered wild animals.
On our return from a two hour walk around the centre during which we saw a selection of animals including Sun Bears (also known as Honey Bears), crocodiles, civets, bear cats, and hornbills, we bought project t-shirts to help the cause, and sadly said goodbye to the committed people at Matang.
After a long day we finally headed back to Kuching for a welcome beer at a cute bistro bar, before rocking and jigging to the wonderful bands at the Jazz Festival.
Which takes me back to listening to the dulcet strains of jazz while drinking an ice cold Tiger beer.
What an interesting and absorbing Day! Thank you everyone!
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Me and He so very blessed to be having a blast in Sarawak at The Kuching Jazz Festival. Music, a gorgeous vibe, waterfront views and so much more. Thank you @borneoethical and @sarawaktourism .. .. .. #kuchingsarawak #travelgram #visitsarawak #thisissarawak #wildlife #offthebeatenpath #malaysia #exploremalaysia #sabah #kotakinabalu #bucketlist #travelblogger #exploremore #wanderlust #kuching #sarawaktourismboard #sarawaktourism #jazzinthejungle #borneoethicaladventures #adventure #kwjf #kwjf2018 #kuchingwaterfrontjazz #kuchingwaterfrontjazzfestival2018 #borneoethical
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What others are saying
“Alison is just THE most amazing tour organiser, most wonderful, dedicated, knowledgeable and lovable person, and so, so-oh much more!! I feel very lucky and privileged to have met Ali and ‘the crew’ on this amazing, wonderful journey.”Susanna
More Blog Posts about Borneo
Previous Borneo Posts in this series include:
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My trip was sponsored by Sarawak Tourism and Borneo Ethical Adventures.