It's an amazing feeling to be sitting on the porch of my own private bed and breakfast tucked away in the rain forest of Northern Borneo. While there is plenty of space for more people to stay here, since I have arrived there have been no other guests. With beautiful handcrafted furniture on an enormous porch cooled by the falling rain and the slowly spinning fans overhead, it's an excellent place to immerse yourself in a book after a long day of trekking through the soaking wet jungle.
I came to Sepliok not only to visit the Orangutan rehabilitation center, but to hike through the rain forest and have the opportunity to see monkeys and wild orangutans swinging from the trees above. With it raining, as it tends to do in the rain forest, I made my way down the side of the road to the rehabilitation center to see them feed the orangutans that are living in the nearby forest. While paying the entrance fee and additional “camera permit” I inquired about the trails that I had read began there at the center. The woman informed me that I had to have a permit. I said ok and asked where I could get a permit. She told me to contact the forestry department. I said how do I do that? She said with the telephone. Seeing that this was going nowhere, I thanked the lady, paid the fees and entered the park.
Surrounded by a crowd of people decorated in brightly colored plastic ponchos they had purchased at the park entrance, an official looking Malaysian man came out carrying some bowls, a bottle of milk and a whole bunch of bananas. As he approached a small wooden platform Orangutans began appearing from the tops of the surrounding trees and making their way to the platform to consume their morning meal. With thousands of cameras focused on these three orangutans eating a few bananas, I figured it would be just about as exciting to see these apes in a zoo.
Finding exactly what I expected at the orangutan feeding show, I departed from the group and began my quest to find the trail I was told I could not enter. It didn't take long to discover the path and with everyone distracted by the feeding apes, I disappeared down the trail and took off into the jungle. Not far down the path I stopped to read a sign that confirmed that I had chosen the right path for my rain forest expedition. While reading the sign and checking my boots for any initial sign of leaches, I heard rustling in the jungle all around me. I at first spotted a pair of eyes staring at me before they again began moving. Suddenly there were more eyes and more movement when an entire family of about twenty monkeys burst from the bushes behind me and ran up the path on both of my sides before again ducking off into the bushes. Not ten minutes from the circus I was just watching and here I was finding the same animals in the wild. Such a beautiful sight to see.
As my journey continued on, I found plenty more monkeys along with various other jungle inhabitants but not surprisingly, I didn't find a single orangutan. They are supposed to be pretty elusive and quiet and the chances are pretty good that even if I managed to pass any of them I most likely would never have seen them. While the monkeys were pretty prevalent, the leeches took the prize for the most frequently spotted creatures along the way. I think I spent more time pulling them off of my shoes and pants in hopes of preventing them from their feast of sucking the blood from my body. As a rough estimation, I think I must have pulled two hundred and fifty of them off of me before my morning's trekking adventure was over. While I found the occasional one crawling beneath my rain pants, only two managed to partake in the pleasure of sucking on my blood. Tired of fighting the constant battle on the most leach infested path I have ever come across and having been successful in spotting plenty of wildlife along the way, I abandoned my ten kilometer jungle trek about half way through and returned to the comfort of my own private bed and breakfast for a nice afternoon of relaxing on the porch and writing in my journal.