(and an incredible package offer for the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort for you – see the end of this post for details)
Indulge me. I know I obsess about food, and that is why you mainly come here, but today, I want to talk about orangutans. On my recent trip to Sabah, I was swept away not just by the food, but also monkeys, apes, monitor lizards, crocodiles and inquisitive owls.
Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo, is a well known honeymoon destination. It has the pristine beaches, luxury hotels and resorts, glorious sunsets, blue skies and crystal seas dotted with islands, that top most honeymoon wish lists. Sabah has wonderful Malaysian food, lots of fresh fish, aroma, heat and spice, but also curiosities like crocodile (I tried a kind of crocodile bacon at one point!). There are great street food markets (sambal stingray, you tasty thing you), lots of local restaurants, the people of Malaysia are passionate about their food and they eat very well.
I was expecting to love exploring the food and to be enthralled by the views but I wasn’t expecting to become completely obsessed with primates. It is one thing to know that primates are similar to us – 98% genetically in some cases – and to see them in a zoo. It is another to see young orphaned toddler orangutans find their way around the tree branches, cheeky and enchanting, utterly gorgeous. To see curious proboscis monkeys in the wild with their huge noses, strapping multicolour thighs, tiny babies clinging on and feeding, in large groups in the trees, sitting peacefully. Wandering to breakfast past macaques, the cheekiest and least fearful of the lot, always hovering by kitchens waiting for an opportunity to steal and smash some eggs, or any other food that they can get their mitts on.
Going to visit an Orangutan Sanctuary in Sabah is a special experience. Every day at feeding time, it is possible to go see the orangutans as they feed on a platform in the rainforest in the Nature Reserve at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort (which rehabilitates baby and toddler orangutans) and the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, deeper into the rainforest near Sandakan, where the toddlers move to be further rehabilitated and to learn essential skills like nest building and other essential skills that there mothers would have taught them for the first 8 years of their lives, before reintroducing them to the wild.