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Sun Bear sanctuary


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large_5550_14685895144499.jpgBalikpapan is a surprisingly nice city (in relative terms). It is by the sea which is blue, despite being near an estuary.
I woke around 0330 and stayed in bed till 0530. I finally opened the bag of muesli which I had brought along and had it with some milk and a cup of coffee.

I had investigated taking a taxi to KWPLH Sun Bear Sanctuary but prices came in consistently at IDR400K (NZD40). They were negotiable but I didn’t think they would move very much. A taxi to Samarinda [Samarinda-travel-guide-869709] would take 2h30 and costs IDR350K. The Bear place while about half the distance, would take more time.

Since I was up so early, the angkot seemed like a good idea. I found #3 straight away which took me to Batu Ampar with some small detours. At Batu Ampar, the driver didn’t drop me at the terminal but a little beyond on the roadside where there was a #8 waiting to fill up.large_5550_14685895215145.jpgBalikpapan is a surprisingly nice city (in relative terms). It is by the sea which is blue, despite being near an estuary. Strangely, the driver took off with just me and another but picked up a few more guests along the way.

All-in-all it took me about 1h15 to get from the first angkot to the drop-off at Km 23 outside the road to KWPLH. It was a very hot sweaty 15 minute walk to KWPLH even at 0745. The sun seemed too fierce for early morning. I got to the sanctuary at 0800 and spent my time reading some of the very informative displays on conservation. The cleaner mopping the floor was very informative and gave me suggestions on more displays in the next area, which was about bears in general. Indonesians might be the friendliest people!

At around 0815 I heard a man shaking a plastic container of what sounded like cat food (but I think it was pebbles). The bear sanctuary is also home to over a hundred cats.large_5550_14685895266452.jpgEateries overlooking the sea at night.He was herding them into their enclosure for feeding and kind of a roll call (perhaps head count). Yes, it’s just like the expression “herding cats”. It was very slow and rather hit-and-miss.

At the cat enclosure, there was already a stack of them against the door waiting to get into the dining room. The door flung open and all the cats ran to a bowl each. What a sight!

I learnt that the cats are not micro-chipped and staff know all of them by name. They are available for adoption. They were easily the healthiest looking cats I’ve seen in any developing country.

I wandered back to the bear displays and continued taking in some of the very good information. I heard a lot of barking in the distance and confirmed with the staff that there was a dog shelter too.large_5550_1468589533553.jpgThe Sun Bear Sanctuary also has a cat shelter. This man is a cat herder. Each morning he herds hundreds of cat into an enclosure for feeding and headcount.That wasn’t promoted for some reason. I guess the Muslims wouldn’t be interested in patting them and the Christians would want to eat them (trust me, I’ve heard this from them throughout the Archipelago).

Soon after 0900, the bear enclosure gates opened, allowing us to go on the walkway which surrounds the bears’ natural habitat. We walked to the end where three bears had just been let out of their house into the forested area. Some fruit had been laid out for them near our vantage point.

It wasn’t the best for pictures as the bears were either too far, or too near the fence (meaning one would have the fence in the pictures too).

I left the Sanctuary by foot. Surprisingly, it was cooler and more cloudy than the inward walk. As I approached the main road, Yusof and Mita whom I had chatted with, offered me a lift to the main road.large_5550_14685895489100.jpgThe Sun Bear Sanctuary also has a cat shelter. Cats walk with me to the dining hall; definitely a trip hazard as they go all around (and up) my legs.But when they realised that I was in the middle of the city, they dropped me off near the brand new mall. We had plenty of nice chats, which was often the case in Indonesia, even with taxi drivers, cleaners etc.

At the new mall, I found a franchise restaurant called Kafe Betawi. I opted for a Nasi Uduk Rendang and a Es Campur. Strangely the rending had small red kidney beans in it too. It wasn’t bad but just different.

I walked back to my hotel for a shower. I had been drenched in sweat once again today and needed to rinse my clothing out. This trip, I had been so wet several times I couldn’t have just put my salt-encrusted clothing into my laundry bag. Quite unusually, I had ended up wearing the few shower-washed clothes and not used the remainder.

After a brief rest, I did laps a the Novotel pool and had another simple capcay overlooking the sea.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Indonesia

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