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Leanne With a year off work. I am off to South America to experience living in country so different from my own.

Kinabatangan River

CHINA | Tuesday, 8 November 2011 | Views [843]

I have just been travelling with two lovely Dutch girls – Judith and Marjolein (I had to call her May) they were great fun to be around and not just for their keen sense of humour but also it was a chance to observe how two gorgeous 20 something girls get around – and to think I was concerned about dressing appropriately! It all started on the bus from Semporna to Sepilok. I boarded nice and early and was settled into my book when the seat next to me was taken by a nice looking young man, I had to force a Hi out of him, that’s when I noticed (and I’m sure he did to) two gorgeous looking girls board the bus and take seat’s across the aisle from me, they saw me and were quick to give me friendly smiles. As the bus left Semporna it was apparent the seat infront of the girls was vacant so the young man (Australian) quickly scooted across. After a couple of hours he then tried to get a conversation going, all he got out of them was yes and no answers and a polite interest in his diving photo’s.  At the Sepilock junction about 8 western’s including me got off the bus and looked around for some hint on which direction to head, I had arranged a pick up but was an hour earlier so I stuck with the group. We headed to the nearest backpackers about 400m down the road, most of them were staying there but the two girls didn’t want to, so I offered them a lift with my driver and we quickly became firm friends. They turned out to be medical students starting a six week internship in Kuala Lumpur next week. As soon as we were settled into Sepilock we headed to the 3pm feeding of the Orang-utans, after waiting in silence we were rewarded with one big Orang-utan swinging through the forest, he quickly established himself as a show off then drank all the water and started to pick through the food. I thought that was pretty good but it soon became more entertaining with several females and babies arriving to sort through the food and lick the empty tin tray for water, I guess they will have to make the trip to river for a drink. I was impressed with their obvious strength and I couldn’t believe the size of their feet and hands. Even though there wasn’t a barrier between us they didn’t take much notice of us.

The girls had rejected all the ‘tours’ of the Kinabatangan river as they felt they were too expensive (280 = $80 per person for 2 days), so they invited me to travel with them to find our own way, stating they wanted an adventure, I am a bit over doing anything adventurous at the moment but couldn’t resist having the company of these two girls. After a bus and two minivans later we ended up at the Gomantong Caves, the girls excitement turned to disgust as they discovered the cavern was splattered with bat droppings with a very healthy supply of cockroaches covering everything, we slipped our way along the boardwalk until we came across some ‘cavemen’ hanging out at the back of the cavern, one of them was keen to show us the ‘famous’ Swiftlet nests, the girls were groused out even more when they learned they were made from spit and Swiftlet nest soup is considered a delicacy. Being away from the tour pack was now a problem as we needed to make the 25km journey into Sakau, a local was hired and we drove along the murky river to our B&B at the very edge of the forest. We boarded a tinnie for a 4-6pm afternoon cruise of the river and the first thing we saw was an Orang-utan with a baby – very special, we floated there for a while enjoying  watching the baby taking some test runs out on to the branches. We enjoyed this cruise so much we ended up taking another cruise the next morning, loads of monkeys long tailed, short tailed and the Dutch monkey. Not as many birds as what I imagined but did see loads of Hornbills, Egret and a magnificent blue and gold kingfisher and a lovely synchronised pair of ?? with light blue beaks. Obviously the jungle was alive with mosquito’s, all three of us were reminding each other to take our malaria tablets and apply repellent. May would report on her growing number of bites, I think Judith was losing interest in the topic but I kept up the sympathy and never pointed out the correlation of clothing vs bites. I was dressed in loose trousers and long sleeve top no matter how hot it was and didn’t have any bites where as she was dressed in a tank top and shorts and was scoring an alarming number of bites! Go figure. 

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