05.02.2017 - 05.03.2017 89 °F
02 May 2017
Off to Indonesia.....
Leaving Singapore almost started on the wrong foot. For some reason, I thought our flight was at 11am but it was at 10am. I also wanted to get there early, as I thought there was a typo on my ticket. As luck would have it, traffic was light to the airport and when we checked in with Garuda, even though the "Burke" was left off my documents, it was correct in the airline computer. No one in line to check in, so it was a breeze.
We hadn't had time for breakfast before we left the hostel but we did at the airport. Chinese noodle soup tasted quite good but as soon as we got to our gate...a cup of coffee was even better.
This flight (or rather these flights), Singapore to Jakarta and then on to Semarang came off without a hitch. Arriving in Semarang, a driver from Quest Hotel was waiting for us.
This is the point, where we are meeting up with Wayne and Linda, friends from Jim's early 70's Peace Corp days. We spent time with them last August, visiting them in Logan, UT, when we were in Park City. At that time, we told them about our plans for Borneo. Not an 'easy go" to get them to Indonesia but they arrived safe and sound after traveling in eastern Java for about 10 days.
We finally met them at the hotel and caught up over a beer. It was then off to dinner. Our choices were the hotel or small warungs down the street. We opted for the warung. I think we might have been some of the few westerners they've ever had grace their cafe. Food was basic but good.
A quick stop at the local "IndoMart" (Indonesian mini mart) proved to be a fun stop indeed. We needed to stock up on a few things: snacks, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. But as we were leaving, the staff decided they wanted to take photos of us. Cell phones came out and we also got pics of them. It also took a trip to Indonesia to learn the "share" function on my smart phone....obviously it is smarter than me.
Semarang is a transit stop. Nice room, comfy bed and a hot shower before we take off for the jungle. Quest Hotel ($37 per night)
03 May 2017
All five of us head back to the airport in the morning for our flight to Pangkalan Bun. Small turbo prop but the flight is smooth, which was very agreeable to Brenda who, though she doesn't let it keep her from traveling, really doesn't like to fly.
A trip to Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan), has been in the planning stages for a long time. We tried to make it happen when we left our teaching gig in China back in 2014. Issues with the company we were working with and Jim's adverse reaction to Doxycycline prevented those plans from coming together...but this time it was a go. We picked a date, contacted Brenda and she was "all in" and then we asked Wayne and linda if they might be interested. They were up and down but finally were able to make it happen.
I've been working with a local company in Kalimantan since last year - Orangutan Applause http://www.orangutanapplause.com/. Dessy and her husband Arif are the owners with Dessy being the main contact person. We'd had so much contact over the internet that when we met at the airport, it was like meeting an old friend.
Pangkalan Bun is a pretty small airport. Upon arriving, we wandered, in no particular order, from the plane towards the arrivals building and into the baggage area. The baggage area being a little bigger than our living room led into the reception area where drivers waited for their charges. Dessy was waiting with a huge smile and a hug. With luggage collected we were off to the boat. We did find out that the airport is actually on the Air Force Base, so all taxis (or in Indonesian taksi) are regulated. No private vehicles are allowed. A sea of blue sedans await their riders and after we're all situated it's off to the harbour.
With five people and Dessy, we're split into two groups. It's about a 20 minute drive. Along the way we notice large concrete warehouses and try and understand what our driver is trying to tell us. My guess was the closest.They are very large bird houses - swifts to be exact. It's quite a lucrative business. They build their nests inside these building with spit and then once built the nests are sold, mostly, to China. It's a delicacy that is extremely expensive - up to $2000 per kilo. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_bird%27s_nest
We finally arrive at the harbour and it seems like a dream... Our dream come true! We are greeted by Arif (Dessy's husband and our guide for the trip). This trip with be 4nights/5days adventure on the back rivers of Kalimantan, visiting Orangutan Feeding stations but also observing the jungle animals in the wild. Because they are wild, it's never guaranteed that there will be sightings but we are hopeful.
......and we get very lucky. First off, we settle in and our boat leaves the dock heading towards the Tanjung Puting National Park, the Sekonyer River and its various tributaries. Before much else happens, lunch is served. It was quite a feast.
Feeling fat and happy, we all find comfortable observation areas and keep our eyes peeled for any sign of life. And...there it is...we see a whole tree of proboscis monkeys ( big bellied, flat nosed monkeys). As we make our way along the waterway, there are more proboscis monkeys, which are always ready to put on a show - jumping from tree limb to tree limb.
The sun sets and after dinner about 7pm - it's an early evening for us. The staff (Captain Limon and our deckhand Sonny) set up our bedding for the night. Our seating during the day, turns into our beds at night. Two doubles and one single sheeted beds with their own individual mosquito netting cages fill the floor of the boat. With the sounds of the jungle animals (and a little snoring) we drift to sleep.....I think I might have even heard Tarzan...