Orangutans Wanted

Day 4 of Asia 2019 trip / Day 2 in Malaysia

By Ippy

7 minute read

Premier 101 Food Centre

Premier 101 Food Centre

It was raining a lot in the morning so we decided to stay in. Will the rest of our stay here in Borneo be like this? :(

The original plan was to go and hopefully see some Orangutans in the wild-ish at Semenggoh Nature Reserve, which is where they rehabilitate injured or orphaned Orangutans and reintroduce them back into the wild. The staff at Semenggoh leave out fruit twice a day for the Orangutans if they wish to come back for a free feed.

Unfortunately I didn't realise until now that it was actually the rainy season (Dec - Feb) in Borneo, meaning that it was also the fruiting season. This meant that there was an abundance of fruit in the forest during this time and no need for the Orangutans to come back home for a feed. Fresh fruit is better than Semenggoh's freebies, according to one of the staff members we spoke to. And it's best they are able to fend for themselves in the wild anyway.

So there was a really low possibility of sighting an Orangutan. There were only 4 appearances during whole month of January. I wouldn't bet on it but A wanted to go and try our luck.

Lima Tujoh Cafe

But first, we had lunch at the cafe downstairs. We both had Nasi Lemak but I chose to have mine with curry and A picked masak merah, which was a tomato-y based sauce with chicken.

Nasi Lemak with curry

Nasi Lemak with Masak Merah

They were quite delicious, but mine was actually a little spicy.

After finishing our meals, the manager (?) gave us some free kek lapis, but of the cheese variety. It was quite nice. She also told us there wasn't much to do in Kuching, ha ha. She heavily implied we should get off our asses and go out!

Semenggoh Nature Reserve

We hired a Grab and the driver was super friendly. He spoke with us during the whole ride. We talked about food and Kuching in general. He told us how he spoke almost 6 languages - English, Malay, Mandarin, Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese. That's pretty awesome.

At Semenggoh entrance we bought our entry tickets. There was a large wooden sign saying chances of us seeing an Orangutan were very low, so they were upfront about it. Our driver knew that the real entrance to the feeding trail was about 1.5km into the park, so he drove us there.

We got out and thanked him and he was on his way. There was a small group of tourists congregated already, listening to a person from Semenggoh talk about Orangutans. We missed most of his talk. Then we ere allowed to walk to the feeding area, which was about a 500m walk away.

Feeding area in Semenggo

Everyone waited patiently and quietly for an Orangutan to turn up. I knew our chances were basically zero. The guide was standing on a platform in a clearing, whistling and calling out periodically. There were some fact sheets stuck up so I gave that a read. They also had a list of statistics - a count of all the times each Orangutan turned up by month. January 2019 had only 4 sightings during feeding time, which was really poor odds. February 2018 fared a lot better than this month. I suppose it is because each fruiting season was different; perhaps 2018's was terrible.

After 45 min of waiting, we were told to exit the area. It was a good thing that no Orangutan turned up as it meant they weren't dependent on humans for food but it was bad for us tourists :P

We spent a little time walking around the wildlife centre and found there was a crocodile enclosure. There was a learning centre which was basically a function room with large posters hung up of each Orangutan that had been at Semenggoh. One of them even had cataract surgery only a few years prior.

Semenggoh closed at 4pm so we were politely ushered out of the learning centre. We walked into their small gift shop and bought some postcards. I overheard some Semenggoh staff talk about how an Orangutan did turn up earlier today, at around lunch time. Another member of staff produced a Slow Loris in a dirty looking cage. The poor thing looked so distressed. They said someone had found it in the middle of the road and brought it in. It now had to be quarantined.

Orangutan facts

Back to Kuching

We had to figure out transport back to town. There was no signal inside the wildlife centre, so we had to walk the 1.5km back to the entrance of Semenggoh when we noticed a guy (a Grab driver) looking for his customer, who appeared to be a no show. I asked him if he wanted a customer and he kind of ignored that question. He walked off into the car park where his car was parked whilst we kept walking along the road. He drove by us and I stopped him, I repeated, ‘Are you sure you don't want a customer? We want to go back to Kuching.’ He agreed, and we agreed to pay him MYR 25 for a ride.

The guy was pretty friendly and enthusiastic but didn't have the best English skills. Halfway through the ride he got us to make a video for his brother; we were to slag off Chelsea FC. He wasn't happy with our first attempt (where I made a solid effort to act and A made a joke about Chelsea being a girls’ name (one would think this kind of sexism would go well in a country such as Malaysia, lol, but I guess that went over his head)) so we tried again and this time A said exactly what the guy wanted him to - “Eww Chelsea”. Lol.

We also talked a bit about alcohol - he was Muslim and used to drink! Ha ha. It also turned out our driver was the person who found the Slow loris that was now at Semenggoh.

We got dropped off at the first cat statue to appear in Kuching, on the other side of Chinatown. The driver was pretty nice about it and only took MYR 20 from us in the end. I took some photos of the cat statue with the Chinatown gate in the background. Chinese New Year had just passed and the cat was still wearing his celebratory Chinese clothes. We walked back towards our accommodation when we decided to check out the big shopping centre nearby, Plaza Merdeka. The ground floor had a handful of big names but the shopping centre was kind of empty to be honest. Not many customers. Eventually we found the supermarket and had a squizz in there.

Padungan Roundabout Cat Statue

Premier 101 Food Centre

Premier 101 Food Centre

For dinner we went to a food centre, which was recommended by our Grab driver who drove us in the morning. It was quite a biggish food centre, but by the time we turned up (around 8:30pm), it wasn't quite as hustle and bustle as I imagined it to be.

So this is how it works -

  1. You find a table.
  2. Make a note of the table number.
  3. Go to a stall and order and tell them your table number.

Han's Bbq Honey Chicken wings

Mohamad Satay

  1. Sit and wait at your table.
  2. Food arrives eventually.
  3. Pay the person who brings you your food.

tomato mee

A ordered a tomato mee. It was ok, not that spectacular. There was a tomatoy flavour to it but because it was in a soup, it was quite watery. Tomato Mee is another Kuching dish. Later, I read that they literally used tomato sauce to make this dish… :/ Perhaps this explains why it didn't taste that great.

I ordered 5 x Honey chicken wings and 5 x Beef Satay sticks.

Wings

The chicken wings were pretty good and nicely barbecued. The marinade was quite nice and not too sweet.

Beef satay

The beef satay was quite good too, it wasn't overcooked. The satay wasn't that sweet, quite savoury actually but not chilli at all.

I also ordered 2x 3 Layer tea, but this time, instead of brown sugar, there was a green layer at the bottom - it was pandan syrup! Yay! It was still really yummy and sweet.

7/10 #ipinions

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