Saturday, April 10, 2010

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

Sabah, Malaysia will leave ecotourism, jungle tourism and wildlife sanctuary fanatics infatuated. If not, madly in love. As written on one if its brochures, "Eco-treasures from mountain high to ocean deep". In Sandakan alone, there are at least 5 destinations where tourists can learn about ecosystem protection. Due to time and budget constraints we were only able to visit 2, but we managed to squeeze a poignant memorial park in between.

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, feeding time.

Our Couchsurfing host Calvin who drove us around Sandakan City's sights the day before, picked us up from Sandakan Harbour Square B&B at 9:00 AM on the dot. He said he just finished his work at the auto parts sales shop. Done with work at 9 in the morning?! How lovely! Only in Sandakan I reckon.

He offered once again to give us a ride. This time an old classmate of his, who's vacationing back home from his work in Singapore, will be coming with us. We fetched Arthur from his quaint neighborhood, a 15-minute drive from the harbour. Soon after we were on our way to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.

The sanctuary sits in the middle of a mangrove forest, past palm plantations, more than 30KM away from the city center. To get there, you may hire a cab or take the 9:00 AM shuttle in front of Sandakan Hotel (as per our accommodation's owner). You may also request for the sanctuary's transport services, just contact them through these numbers.

Admission fee for non-Malaysians: RM60 adults and RM30 for kids 12 years old and below (an additional RM10 for each camera you bring in). There are two feeding platforms. Platform A's feeding times are 9:30 AM and 02:30 PM, and Platform B's are 11:30 AM & 04.30 PM. Calvin said he has never been to Platform A, and he's almost certain that tourists are mostly accommodated in Platform B.

Pinay Travel Junkie Confession: I am obsessed with proboscis monkeys.

That was actually the third time for us to see these quirky creatures. The first time when we were cruising by Brunei's riverbanks, and the second time while we were hiking early morn in Sarawak's (Kuching) Bako National Park. They can only be found in Borneo!

Proboscis monkeys have large pendulous noses (they get bigger as the monkeys mature), and are pot-bellied (due to a complex digestive system). Their diet mainly consists of leaves, seeds and some unripe fruits. And oh, they learned how to eat pancakes! Story has it that a few monkeys broke into the staff's kitchen years ago and ate leftover pancakes. Since they loved it, the staff continues feeding them with pancakes but minus the sugar.

Unfortunately, unlike the orangutans (also main residents of Borneo), humans cannot touch or pet the proboscis monkeys. I would sure love to hold their noses and see how it feels like (they turn red with anger or excitement)! Though they seem to not mind the presence of humans, they'd still rather keep their distance. Plus bear in mind there's always that risk of viruses getting passed from monkey to man and vice versa.

Watch the video and see how the proboscis monkeys line up on a tree branch before going to the feeding platform. It's as if they're posing for the pictures!

Before leaving the sanctuary, I bought a not-so-cheap RM25 small proboscis monkey stuffed toy. At that time I was 2 months pregnant, and I was already starting to collect things for our future baby. Small trinkets from around the world that would spark his/her (we still don't know the gender) interest with the environment especially about wildlife at an early age.

Left: Entrance to Platform B. Right: Proboscis monkey stuffed toy we bought.

Wouldn't it be cool when an adult asks our kid, "What's your favorite toy?" and he/she replies "A proboscis monkey" (instead of 'Spongebob' or 'Barney'). Then adult goes "pro-what?!" in bewilderment and fascination.

Done with the sanctuary, we're off to Sandakan Memorial Park next.


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pinoy boy journals said...
May 13, 2010 at 2:14 AM

your baby will be one lucky kid when he/she grows up! to have a set of parents like you both, he/she will surely be the envy of his/her friends! =)

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
May 13, 2010 at 3:41 AM

Thanks Jerik. We do hope baby will have an interest in backpacking someday. And oh, happy 27th birthday! Cheers to more trips!

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