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KUCHING, BORNEO - MALAYSIA

Kuching's waterfront, life along the Sarawak River, Semenggoh & Matang Wildlife Center

semi-overcast 37 °C

After a week of traveling all around Bali, Indonesia I flew to Borneo. Where the heck is Borneo you ask? Its right above Indonesia. Its that big island on the map. Its made up of 3 countries. Mostly Indonesia, part Malaysia, and a wee bit Brunei. I visited the Malaysian part. I flew into Kuching, in the northwest part of Borneo and stayed there for 5 days.
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I stayed at the Harbor View Hotel, I forgot to take a photo of it, but it was really nice, I promise, lol! This was the view from my room. It was $43 CAD a night. They served breakfast in the morning, but it was not included and cost about $10 CAD. They also offered my favorite amenity ... free wifi :)
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My hotel was across the street from Kuching's waterfront. Its a long boardwalk that runs the length of the Sarawak River.
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Main street along the river with many shops.
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I spent alot of time walking along the waterfront. The place really came alive at night with vendors selling all kinds of food & souvenirs, street preformers & musicians. There were also great views of the giant golden temple across the river ... which is actually not a temple, but the government buildings! Fancy!
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I also noticed many Chinese temples everywhere! One right in front of my hotel.
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Chinese gazebo & lanterns along the waterfront.
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One of my favorite things to do was to watch the boats on the Sarawak River. You could pay for a ride along the river, or for a ride across to the other side. I passed though. Its the same view from land looking across as it is from a boat.
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Walking through the city I came across my very first mosque :) They are beautiful!
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I booked roundtrip transportation & admission to Semenggoh through the front desk of my hotel for only 50 Ringgit ($17 CAD), which is a steal of a deal considering my Lonely Planet guide said it would be 45 Rinngit just for the transportation one way! So the very next day thats where I went!
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My main reason for traveling to Borneo was to see wild orangutans! They only live wild & free in 2 places left in this world which is quite sad ... Borneo, and in Sumatra, Indonesia. Upon arriving at Semenggoh there is a small visitor's center with info on the orangs, and washrooms, but no snacks. No food is allowed in the area. You are given a guide who leads you through the rainforest to 2 different viewing areas. Wooden platforms have been built in the rainforest, and ropes attached to the platforms for the orangs to play on. The platforms are then piled high with bananas, coconuts & pineapple. And then we wait. And wait & wait. And then wait some more. Just to clarify, the orangutans in the following photos are 100% WILD, so they dont care how far you've traveled, or how much $ you've paid, or how long you have to stand there waiting ... they are wild, and free to do what they want. So they only show up if they feel like it.

Although it took awhile, staring up at the treetops, looking for any tell-tale sign of an orangutan, was exhilarating! My first glimpse of ginger fur leaping treetop to treetop made my heart skip a beat! This is why I love to travel! THAT feeling! Some women say men make their heart skip a beat ... for me its big hairy ginger apes, LOL!!
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Look at hose muscles!
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I ended up visiting Semenggoh twice ... this day, and again on my last day. On my second visit NO orangutans showed up :( But on this day ... 4 showed up! I didnt realized in the moment how lucky I was to see that many, until I visited again and didnt see any, and also spoke to others who had gone 4 different times and hadnt gotten to see any at all!
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Only 1 male showed up at the first platform. We watched him for awhile, and then the guide led us farther into the forest where the 2nd viewing area was. There were 3 orangs at this one! A mom with a baby clinging to her (!!!!!!!!) and another youngster a little older :) AMAZING!!
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This young one was a show off, lol! He'd swing across the ropes and then just hang there upside-down eating a coconut, watching us. He even knew how to smack the coconut against a tree hard enough to crack it open and then drink the milk out! Clever little guy :)
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Stuffing his face fulls of bananas :)
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Also at Semenggoh I saw this blue eyed lizard just chillin' on a tree!
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There was this 'highway' of ants (or possibly termites ... I dont actually know what a termite looks like) making their way along the path and up a tree!
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After a few wonderful hours watching these beautiful creatures, they disappeared back into the rainforest to do whatever it is the wild orangutans do :)

I then headed over the Matang Wildlife Center. I had read that it was a rehabilitation center for wounded & orphaned animals, but it looked basically like a zoo. But there was a vet clinic area where gibbons & macaques were being tended to.
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Although most animals were in cages, there were a few in open-air 'pits' with platforms that humans could then look down into the pit at the animals. The orangutans could 100% get out if they tried! The walls of the pit were only about 12ft high or so. If an orang can leap vast distances between treetops, then they could definitely jump over this wall. Maybe they dont realize freedom is on the other side??
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This guy looks quite bored in his jungle gym.
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Matang is located literally in the middle of nowhere! The views of the rainforest on the drive out (I just took a taxi) were stunning! So that being said, while walking the trails around the center, I was still completely in the rainforest where any wild animals could attack!
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I was by myself, no other visitors were at the center while I was there ... so every little sound made me jumpy! A leaf fell & landed on my shoulder and I nearly screamed, lol! After seeing this sign below, I was even more nervous! There was also another sign (which I forgot to take a pic of) that showed photos of orangutan attack victims!! The inflicted wounds were quite gruesome!
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I kept looking over my shoulder every few minutes to be sure a Clouded Leopard wasnt hunting me, lol! In the end, the only wild animals I encountered were this lizard and dragonfly, lol!!
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There was also a pit with a Malayan Sun Bear.
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I didnt take photos of all the animals, because some of the cages had just way too many bars to get decent photos. But here are some that I was able to get nice pictures of.
Buffy Fish Owl
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I dont remember this bird's name, but he looked like a grumpy old man, lol!
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Crocodile
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False Gharial Crocodile ... they are known for their long, slender snouts and razor sharp teeth!
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Although most of the animals were in cages, it was still awesome to see so many Asian species I'd never seen before! We definitely dont have these animals in Canada! There was a Clouded Leopard, Gibbons (the call of a gibbon is the coolest sound in the world!), hornbills, bintorangs (aka Asian Bear Cat), and Sambar Deer.

Well thats it for Kuching. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on hiking in Bako National Park, and a day at Damai Beach :)

Posted by ChantelleS 12:24 Archived in Malaysia Tagged rainforest water boat wildlife temple monkey malaysia borneo crocodile tropical orangutan

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