If you only have a few days in Kuching, this is must-see! I usually hate anything ‘must-see’, ‘must-do’, yada yada. Partly because I don’t like crowds, and more so because of my somewhat rebellious black sheep nature of having to go against the grain. But sometimes, I’ve got to give in. In truth, I am from a small town in the South East of Ireland, when the fuck am I actually going to get a chance to see this magnificent animal again? I could say on a Saturday night at 2am outside the a pub, but that would be completely insulting the Orangu-tans.
Semengoh Rehabilitation Centre is not actually a place where these wild animals go to get off the smack, or are suffering from ‘exhaustion’. It is a sanctuary for rescued animals, taken into care after they have been abandoned or abused by captivators who treated them not so nicely to put it mildly. There are two feeding times, when members of the public can attend and hope to get a glimpse of these beautiful endangered beings. Note, if the Orangu-tans come out at these times is NOT guaranteed, but worth the wait. Feeding times are at 08:30 and 15:00 hours. I went to the afternoon feeding, and these lads kept us waiting for 30 minutes! The keepers leave coconuts and fruit on a platform, from which you are about 100 meters away. You have to be far away, as these animals are wild – so don’t go there with an expectation of hugging and kissing a cute little baby Orangu-tan. This is there natural habitat where they are allowed to roam free, they rule the roost!
Watching these majestic animals swing through the trees was just awe inspiring. So flexible, I even captured one of them doing Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana A, jealous! They are one of the closest living relatives to man, with the name Orangu-tan meaning ‘Person of the forest’, a derivation of the Malay and Indonesian words orang meaning “person” and hutan meaning “forest”.
To get there you can take a public bus No 6, 6A, 6B, or 6C from the Public bank in town, take a taxi or like me, hire a guide (very easy and inexpensive way to discover things in SE Asia). It costs just 3RM to enter the centre, bare in mind the walk from the gate to the feeding platform takes about half an hour. If taking the bus, note that for the afternoon feeding, the last bus back to the city is at 4pm, and with a half hour walk you might miss seeing these beautiful animals if they decide to take their time in coming to hang out!
This is the first time I am posting pictures where I used my humble Nikon D7000 to shoot. Luckily I had lots of time while waiting for the guys to show their faces, to adjust the settings. I am finding getting the right settings a bit difficult in SE Asia, due to the harsh glare and haze off the sun, and also due to the humidity giving everything a lovely grainy glow.