Monday, September 24, 2007

Mel's Great Sukau Adventure

As promised, I am back with photographic evidence of my trip to Sukau. FYI, Sukau is in Sandakan, a wildlife haven along the banks of the Kinabatangan river. Just google it la. And now I bring you, picturegraphs!
It started with an invitation to the Abai Jungle Lodge few months ago (ok in May. Yes, I am a proscastinator) and I finally found the time to haul my ass to Sandakan. And boy oh boy am I glad I did! Anyway, me and six other colleagues made our way to Sandakan at 7:30 am and upon arrival, we made our way to Sepilok Forest Edge Resort, mainly to do an update on the new tourism products in the area.

These are some of the lodges. I was quite impressed at how well-maintained they were and the surrounding greenery is really nice.

We had breakfast there, followed by some really purpley dragon fruit. I was hoping it would be sweeter though. Oh and the host shared some interesting info: The fruit turns your poo purple, so don't panic. *erm, ok*
And then we were off to Abai! It's roughly an hour by boat from the Sandakan Jetty at Jalan Sim Sim. L-R: Jungle Mel, Angeline (her first trip to Sandakan, woo hoo!) and Jusliah.

Our humble abode in Abai. So quiet and jungle-y. There were macaques right outside our lodge.

After lunch, we were off on our first wildlife cruise for the trip. Basically, we cruise the riverbanks with our guide - Junior- in search of the 'local residents'. The nature guides have AMAZING eyes. I couldn't spot half the things they spotted.

One of the earliest things we saw were a family of macaques. Hi cousin! Turns out we didn't have to go far to look for monkeys....

...I spent the whole weekend with a bunch of them. See background for proof.

The next morning, we visit the village, Kg. Abai. The lodge has a great programme whereby local villagers actively participate in tourism activities. For example, Abai Jungle Lodge has a Tree Planting activity where visitors donate RM1.00 to plant a tree in their name and the villagers are in charge of the programme. From the programme, the participating then gets RM10.00 in return from each tree planted. It's a win-win situation: sustainable development at its best with the tourism industry giving back to the local community. The tour agency, S.I Tours, have even helped some young scholars through university while many find career opportunities working in the lodge or with the company. Cool huh?

Another 'not-so-wild'life of Sukau. The Lazinus Sleepingnuss Feline.

I planted a tree! Grow big and strong my little one...

This was the existing public toilet in Kg. Abai....

And now thanks to Sabah Tourism Board, this is the spanking new toilet facilities! Me so proud.

Anyway, I'm not meaning to show off but....WE SAW ELEPHANTS! An amazingly rare sighting. In the wild and in the flesh!

"I'm an efelun...See me swing my big trunk."

And then it rained. Yolanda still sempat squeezing in a smile before getting drenched.

Enden I get to do what I'm never allowed to do back home...MAIN HUJAN! i'm playing in the rain, nyeh nyeh. Pneumonia schumonia.

Heh I found this funny. This is what happens when everyone gets excited and they rush to the side to check out the spotted animal. "Oooooops...relax everybody...back to your seats...We'll turn the boat around."

So yes, I had a blast. I don't have much wildlife shots, I relied on the photographer du jour on that - his camera more canggih. I leave with a shot of my group in our sarongs - The lodge had a rule: No sarong, no dinner! It was a fantastic trip - made new friends, saw ELEPHANTS and the like and it was just great to be outdoors. Till the next trip!

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