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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Final full day at SMKDPM – what a treat! - and goodbye - for now.

Thursday July 15, 2010
After breakfast at the school canteen, I set off with Surie, Margaret Chee, Judy Liew Su Tsin and students Priscilla and Wilfred from the Environment Club to Rasa Ria Resort. The Resort is part of the Sabah Orangutan Rehabilitation program and incorporates the Orangutan Education Centre. It is currently the home of 3 of the orang-utan sponsored by the school. The resort was about 40 minutes drive from the school.

First we viewed a video presentation about the threat to the orang-utan and the program in place to try to save them. Then we had a short walk along a path into the jungle to the feeding platform. The orang-utan are only fed by one ranger at this stage of their rehabilitation. He called the orang-utan and after a short time 2 of them came down from the tree tops to feed and entertain those present. We spent about half an hour here and then went back to the information centre for some souvenir shopping and lunch. The resort is an interesting example of ecotourism in that it is a luxurious tourist haven on the pristine beaches of the South China Sea and the jungle. The Orangutan education centre is strictly controlled and all money raised from this part of the resort is put back into funding the rehabilitation program. After a period of rehabilitation at Rasa Ria (depending on the individual’s adaptation to life back in the wild, the orang-utan are moved to the larger reserve near Sandakan.

One area for ongoing collaboration as part of an environmental focus will be to join in this program by sponsoring an orang-utan as well. In addition if is hoped that both schools will become involved in a program to sponsor a koala.

How could you not fall in love with this face!!

On our return trip, we visited the Tuaran Crocodile Farm, located about 30 kms from Kota Kinabalu. The 7 acres farm is an education centre, but also is a commercial breeder of saltwater crocodiles with up to 1,000 crocodiles on the farm at any time!

After returning to school, I met up with Badinah Bianis. She is from the Penampang area, so took me to a variety of locations around the area, including Taman Donggonan, the St Michaels Church – the oldest in Sabah, and to one of the old suspension bridges – one of the oldest forms of transport across the river. After a meal at a Chinese restaurant in the area, I returned to Surie’s house for my last night in Kota Kinabalu.

Friday July 16, 2010
Final short session at SMKDPM before returning to Kuala Lumpur. After a discussion with PN. Fauziah and Fay about our joint desire to ensure that our relationship can build into an ongoing collaboration it was time to say our farewells, get in the car with Surie once again and head to the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

All too soon my time here had come to an end - for now!

I would like to thank everybody who has made me so welcome

  • Pn. Fauziah and Fay who shared their insights into the school, its operation, achievements and challenges

  • the teachers who allowed me the privilege of visiting their classrooms

  • the members of the Student Council for sharing their experiences and questions with me - and for teaching me to dance!

  • Mayrilyn and Brittany for making sure I didn't get lost and for sharing their enthusiasm and pride in their school

  • the students of the hostels for their wonderful welcome, cultural performance and sharing their sense of community - and especially the girls who chatted with me long past the normal curfew!!

  • Sabaria and the girls at the Mahligai Seri Saloon - the facial almost put me to sleep

  • Marcella, Judy and Surie for my first day in Kota Kinabalu - the laughter and good times you shared with me were an ideal beginning to my visit and will be a lasting memory

  • every student and member of staff who greeted me with a smile and quiet good morning each day

  • Margaret, Surie, Judy, Priscilla and Wilfred for a special day with the orangutan

Special thanks to Ramzie, and Lim who welcomed me into their homes - and Badinah for the tour and friendship.

Finally a special thank you to Surie for her quiet dedication to achieving our plans, her hard work and excellent blogging skills and for welcoming me into her family. Say hi to Shah and Ameera from Auntie Janet!

Terima kasih, sampai kita bertemu lagi.


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