We stopped at the gas station to inflate the tires and check the consumption on #visirun tablet before leaving for the Orang Utan Island, at Bukit Merah. Filippo said: “OMG, what a struggle to reach the island! There is drought and they don’t think it would be convenient to use the boats because they can run aground in the seabed or reverse for residues of logs. I, though, insisted: I said that rather I would have got there by swimming. In short, we found two available canoes and we paddled for a few hours under the sun, with a perceived temperature of 52 degrees. They thought we were dead, but the hell I wasn’t going to see such incredible animals. And nothing. We got there exhausted, but at least we got there!”
After the tiring journey, our efforts were repaid: we are at Orang Utan Island, a rehabilitation center that hosts and assists orangutan orphans, born in captivity, recovered from the black market or from parts of illegally deforested land. Do not be fooled by the pictures: we from #Overland17 are the ones in the cage! Orangutans are free to roam the island, and humans are just allowed to watch them but only inside caged paths. A Jurassic Park-style atmosphere. Only animals that run undisturbed and no human beings, except from 2 guardians who live on the island! We interview Norfadzila Binti, who takes care of puppies, the ranger Ahmad Puzi, and the Veterinary Surgeon and Chief Director of the foundation Dr. D. Sabapathy.
We come, then, on the island of Penang: passing from George Town, we reach the home stay that will host us for a couple of nights. We were already guests in other home stays in Thailand: it’s a typical local accommodation where those who live greets visitors like a family: the way we prefer to get to know people, everyday traditions, customs and habits. Because traveling is also this! The director of the community welcomes us and introduces us to the family, who prepares us a good dinner. You have to eat Malaysian food with your own hands! Filippo, Stack and Ema follow this Malaysian habit, while Stefano prefers to use a fork! After dinner “our” family shows us some activities: Stack sets to work with the production of a basket with homemade sheets of newspaper. The hosting lady is very happy with her helper!
In the morning we have breakfast with our host family and head to Georgetown, the capital of Penang. Remember that Malaysia is a federal state.