A Travellerspoint blog

More time on the river

overcast

05 May 2017

Pretty good nights' sleep, again Yana's magic with food is amazing - breakfast is great.

Today, the plan is two different feeding stations : Pondok Tanggui and a return to Leakey.

Wayne wasn't feeling well (it happens)... so he stayed behind to recover.

The river

The river

This trip is all about the Orangutans. Each station we went to was a different experience and we saw different animals. One of the highlights was seeing "Carlos" -- currently the dominant male in the area. "Tom" was the dominate male but hasn't been seen for about four months and Arif lets us know that there was probably a fight between the two with Carlos being the winner. So goes life in the jungle!

The current king....Carlos

The current king....Carlos

Salamat Datang.....Welcome

Salamat Datang.....Welcome

Entering Camp Leakey

Entering Camp Leakey

Mom and Baby

Mom and Baby

Mom and Baby 2

Mom and Baby 2

Carlos

Carlos

Silence Please

Silence Please

3

3

Buds

Buds

.hmmmmmm

.hmmmmmm

4

4


Forgot to add from yesterday - while we were at Leakey - all of a sudden a sneaky little Gibbon Monkey decided that he was invited to dinner....He would hang in the trees above our heads and very quickly swing from branch to branch, swoop in and grab some food (bananas) and head back up into the tree to eat. The branches he was on were too narrow for the orangutans so he didn't worry that they would come after him. He was actually very funny to watch.Gibbon Profile

Gibbon Profile

Sneaky Gibbon

Sneaky Gibbon


06 May 2017

Today is our last full day on the river. (After our second day we were all wondering if 5D/4N was too long....it's not. There was no wifi and rarely cell coverage but that was OK. We had the chance to leisurely enjoy this area without outside interference)

After breakfast we make our way along the river - always on the lookout for birds or other primates. Our morning destination is Pondok Kerja where we will have a chance to plant trees that have been donated by Orangutan Applause. The planting area was about 1Km walk into the jungle along a primitive walkway (no OSHA out here) to the base station. This a government run, one man station. The gentleman who works here has the job of separating the seedlings, planting some and assisting volunteers (us) with planting and marking.

Tree lined walkway

Tree lined walkway


Our walkway into the jungle

Our walkway into the jungle


The tree guy

The tree guy


Tree planters

Tree planters

Jim planted an Aru Tree (aka Christmas tree)

Jim planted an Aru Tree (aka Christmas tree)

My Tree

My Tree


Our last feeding station is one that is government run and is the most basic. It also had fewer boats going there and fewer Orangutans. We found it ironic that, at the other camps, the animals are given bananas, mangos and milk and here just sugar cane. I think they know were the best "eats" are.

When going into the jungle on a boat everything for the trip is pre determined. After a hot day in the jungle a glass of beer sounds very good but ..it has to be ordered ahead of time and....well, I forgot to order the beer. We didn't find out until we asked Arif about it on our 2nd day. It wasn't a big deal but if you remember from my previous posting...most reasonable requests are usually granted. Arif came to us yesterday and told us that we'd have beer for our last day. How it arrived was an actual event: There was a large boat coming up the river towards us. They got very close and Arif runs to the front of our boat. They pass over a styrofoam cooler. We thought it food was for dinner....nope...it was the beer. Dessy can do anything!!!!

The beer has arrived

The beer has arrived

The Captain nestled our boat along a reeded area to moor for our last night. Arif had one last treat for the trip. Once it got dark, he brought us all out to the front of the boat and up in the trees were hundreds of blinking fireflies. What a way to end our trip.

07 May 2017

After breakfast we made our way back to the main river and to our port in Kumai where we were transported back to the airport. Sadly, it was time to say goodbye. I doubt that another trip to this wonderful place is in our future but we'll always have such incredible memories......and also.....well, there's always Facebook (lololol)

Our Crew....with sad ..until we meet again

Our Crew....with sad ..until we meet again


Posted by pjburke 00:26 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Our First Orangutan Sighting....

semi-overcast 95 °F

04 May 2017

Our stacked cushioned beds were surprisingly comfortable - though there was the high decibel drone of the two snoring men...and it wasn't the crew.

Bedding before netting

Bedding before netting

Bedding after netting

Bedding after netting


The sun rose about 530am and as we wandered out of our mosquito netting cocoons, we found that our boat was nestled under a very large tree filled with proboscis monkeys. More visible in the morning light, it was fun just to sit and watch. We do realize already that is going to be a HOT day.

Another delicious breakfast starts the day. The boat is underway meandering down the river with no expectations. Arif never made promises about seeing animals. What was really nice was that when we did having sightings, he wasas excited as we were. All of a sudden....oh...look ....Silver langur monkeys (aka silvery lutung). At times, they seemed to stop and pose for pictures.

Silver Langer

Silver Langer

We continue further down (or maybe up - I'm not sure) the river. Our destination is the first feeding station....but wait....the sharp eyes of Arif spots something. Could it be??? An Orangutan...a wild Orangutan!!!!

Our first wild Orangutan sighting

Our first wild Orangutan sighting


We were excited at the possibility of seeing Orangutans at the feeding stations (which means they are wild,not contained at all.) The Orangutans are very intelligent and they do know that each day there will be food twice a day if they choose to come eat. Arif tells us that at this time of the year, there is so much foliage that they don't "need" to feed at the stations. Other times of the year when food is not as plentiful - more Orangutans show up....but I digress.

Arif quickly gets on his walkie-talkie and tells Captain Limon to stop the boat. There he is - sitting up in a large tree....it was incredible. We sit quietly and watch him...take photos - of course. After a while, he gets bored with us after a while and swings away and we are off to our first feeding station. A little more info ...if you care to read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangutan

Our day proceeds to more monkey spotting....lunch and then on to Camp Leakey which was started in 1971. More information on Camp Leaky: https://orangutan.org/our-projects/research/camp-leakey/Linda ...on a mission

Linda ...on a mission

Our Fearless Leader - Arif

Our Fearless Leader - Arif

Instructions to Feeding Station

Instructions to Feeding Station

Salamat Datang.....Welcome

Salamat Datang.....Welcome

Entering Camp Leakey

Entering Camp Leakey

Even though it was raining, we couldn't tear ourselves away. Arif told us we could stay as long as we wanted which ended up being 60-90 minutes ....just watching their feeding and interaction. It was fascinating.

Coming in for a bite to eat at Camp Leakey

Coming in for a bite to eat at Camp Leakey

Hangin' Out

Hangin' Out

Big Guy

Big Guy

Just Hanging Around

Just Hanging Around

Would His Mom Approve???

Would His Mom Approve???

Camp Leakey Feeding Station

Camp Leakey Feeding Station

Borneo

Borneo

Feeding time was up and we had no choice - it was back to the boat arriving to a mug of hot ginger tea and banana fritters.

Dinner for the trip was usually about 7pm. During that time, Captain Limon and Sonny set up our sleeping accommodations and we would wonder to bed when we were tired...falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle that surrounded us.

Posted by pjburke 21:42 Archived in Indonesia Tagged organutans Comments (3)

Welcome to the Jungle

Kalimantan, Indonesia

overcast 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.

Changi Airport Singapore

Changi Airport Singapore

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.

Indomart Employees

Indomart Employees

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)

Our group

Our group


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.

Our Air Chariot

Our Air Chariot

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.

Airport in Pangkalan Bun Kalimantan Indonesia

Airport in Pangkalan Bun Kalimantan Indonesia

Brenda Meeting Dessy

Brenda Meeting Dessy


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

Swift House

Swift House

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.Our home in Kalimantan

Our home in Kalimantan

Brenda and Linda excited about the trip

Brenda and Linda excited about the trip

Arif giving instructions to his new guests...

Arif giving instructions to his new guests...

Arif with his ever bright smile

Arif with his ever bright smile


......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.

The first of many feast prepared by the lovely Yana

The first of many feast prepared by the lovely Yana

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.

Proboscis Monkey - posing

Proboscis Monkey - posing

More Monkeys

More Monkeys

....and more

....and more

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...

Relaxing after a hard day :-)

Relaxing after a hard day :-)

Posted by pjburke 17:47 Archived in Indonesia Tagged organutans Comments (8)

Singapore and way beyond!!!!!

29 April 2017

Off to Singapore today for a quick three day stop.

Sometimes people ask how we choose where to travel: wish/bucket lists, suggestions and sometimes I'll just see a photo and think "I just have to go there". For research, we do find travel books are good resources and a good source for travel books is the library. Luckily for me, the Pima County Library (Tucson) has a large, current travel book selection which includes most countries. Fodor's, Frommer's are good basic books but I'm more inclined to National Geographic, Rough Guide and Lonely Planet and then again, there is the internet. There are so many blogs and websites that have great info.

You might ask why Singapore! Yes, we've been here before - twice actually - but Brenda has not. We had planned our Borneo trip for May 3rd-7th, and we needed to work around those dates.

My thought process was: where would be a good stop for convenience, good food and some nice sites? Singapore's Changi Airport is a huge hub and actually one of my favorite airports. From there it's easy to get down to Indonesia. Also, Singapore has great food and is easy to navigate with only one drawback. It's expensive. We're staying at the Mitraa Hostel in LIttle India. I booked a 4 bed dorm for the three of us but they gave us a 6 bed dorm (same price) - cost is $90 per night and as far as Asian prices go - that's expensive (for us).

A mix of old and new - describes all of Singapore

A mix of old and new - describes all of Singapore

Our spacious dorm in Singapore

Our spacious dorm in Singapore

Little India - Singapore

Little India - Singapore


We arrived about 730pm, got settled and headed out for some sustenance. It's Saturday night and the streets are teeming with people of every shape and color - locals and tourists a like. Just down from our hostel, on facing street corners are two groups of food stalls. We've learned that you always look for the place that's busy. One side of the street was full, so it's across that street where we grab the only empty table. These areas are occupied by five or six different food stalls that share the same tables and the same beer girl. An enthusiastic, smiling man beckoned us to his stall. The dishes looked good (each about $5Sg = $3.50 USD), we order. This is all new to Brenda so we explain: you order food from the stall that suits you and then give them the table number. We had asked for beer so we are approached by the "Beer Girl", we give her our order and she delivers. Each person is paid independent of the other.

After dinner, we start the trek down the Serangoon Rd, passing every type of shop imaginable. After a bit, Jim decides his leg is bothering him and he heads back to the room. Brenda and I have a bit of energy left so it's off to see what little gems we can find.

30 April 2017

With Singapore being two and a half hours behind Sri Lanka and the fact that our room is quiet and without windows, we woke up and find we've missed breakfast. That's ok. As Brenda and I perused the shops the previous evening, we saw one restaurant that was really busy and through the window Brenda saw someone eating what Brenda described as "a tree". It was actually a cone dosai. With that dish in mind, we made it back to Komala Vilas for brunch. So glad we did - next to string hoppers, dosai is one of my favorite dishes and this place had some that were new to me. We enjoyed our brunch a plain dosai, kama dosai and kama dosia with onions - all really good.

Plain dosia made with lentil flour

Plain dosia made with lentil flour

Rawa Dosai - a spicy semolina dosai

Rawa Dosai - a spicy semolina dosai

Our last visit to Singapore was five years ago and JIm and I enjoyed a nice afternoon at the Gardens by the Bay, which at that time, were quite new. They have enhanced the gardens in the last five years. Exhibits there change frequently and the current one is "Tulips". It's a nice way to pass a couple of hours and gives easy access to the Marina Sands Hotel (for a quick peek). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardens_by_the_Bay

Gardens on the Bay - Flower Dome and Cloud Forest

Gardens on the Bay - Flower Dome and Cloud Forest

Gardens on the Bay - Flower Dome

Gardens on the Bay - Flower Dome

Wooden Art - Gardens on the Bay

Wooden Art - Gardens on the Bay

Gardens on the Bay - Van Gogh in Tulips

Gardens on the Bay - Van Gogh in Tulips

Large Ceramic Flower

Large Ceramic Flower

Another Amazing Piece of Art

Another Amazing Piece of Art

Another interesting piece of art inside the Flower Dome

Another interesting piece of art inside the Flower Dome

Marina Sands Hotel from inside the Flower Dome

Marina Sands Hotel from inside the Flower Dome

Misting the upper areas of the Cloud Forest

Misting the upper areas of the Cloud Forest


It's also just a quick MRT (metro) ride way from Chinatown and that was our destination for dinner. Wandering the street, we stopped to check out a menu and was summoned in by a very enthusiastic young waitress. The dishes, authentically Chinese, brought us back to your days in Wuhan.

Our finally destination for the night was going to be Clarke's Quay to take the harbour cruise. An awesome way to see the cityscape all lite up. Sunset in Sri Lanka was about 6pm but here it's about 7pm. So,we were a bit early. Rethinking our plans, we head back to the hostel and will do the boat cruise tomorrow - our last night in Singapore - hope it doesn't rain!!

01 May 2017
Happy BIrthday to our sister-in-law Ann Burke!!

Again we slept in...it's also laundry day today. Fortunately, the hostel has a washer ....and a dryer (not often seen). In other places, we've used their laundry services or washed out a couple things as we go but once we get into Indonesia, we won't have time to send out our laundry...and we REALLY need to get some done.

With laundry done, we're off for our last day in Singapore. Brenda took the lead today and she thought the Singapore National Museum would be nice. What a great choice. The museum is very deceiving. From the outside, it looks like a period building but expands to a huge area with great exhibits. Admission for those 60+ is $10Sg , otherwise $15. Brenda got an early birthday present from the man behind the desk.

Singapore National Museum

Singapore National Museum

Our next stop was supposed to be a small boutique shopping area but it didn't live up to expectations so it was off to the MRT. On the way, we saw that we were passing the famous Raffles Hotel. It was built in 1887, named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the man who founded Singapore and is now part of Fairmont Hotels. It is also where the Singapore Sling was first made. We decide to stop in and "maybe" have one. Well.....NO...not for $36 per drink. I'll make one when we get home and we'll toast Singapore....for a whole lot less.

Raffles Hotel

Raffles Hotel


Evening came as the lights along Clarke's Quay glittered against the city backdrop. Not a rain cloud in sight. It was as mesmerizing as I had remembered. The forty minute ride brought us through the the quay areas with the Marina Sands Hotel the highlight.

Singapore at Night

Singapore at Night


Our trip to Singapore had come to an end and it was time to get back to the hostel, pack and get ready to start "Part II" of our adventure.

02 May 2017

Currently writing from the hotel in Semarang, Java, Indonesia. We flew in from Singapore (via Jakarta), met up with friends from Utah (Wayne Wurtsbaugh and Linda L'ai). The five of us will travel tomorrow to Borneo for a klotok (small boat) trip through the Tanjung Puting National Park to see Orangutan (among other animals) in their natural environment. Might not (read: probably won't) have internet until sometime on the 7th...But I hope to have some really great photos to share. Check out: http://www.orangutanapplause.com/orangutan-tour/

Posted by pjburke 08:37 Archived in Singapore Comments (3)

Sri Lanka Wrap Up

sunny 91 °F

28 April 2017

Update: Check out the "Kandy" posting - now in Singapore and have great internet service. I was able to upload a video clip for some fire walkers.

Simple breakfast at our hotel but not to worry because we knew it would be massage time at Jasmin at 11am. I called in the morning to confirm our reservation, asked to be picked up at Olanro and then dropped off at Palms Villas..His response."of course".

Our massages were wonderful - a reward for our long bus rides - 75 minutes - 2100Rp = $14.

Arriving at Palms Villas was like coming home - big hugs from Auntie and Sonny. Gerry walked in and, of course, had to give Jim a hard time.
A bit of lunch, some pool time and a nap - it was really what we needed to recharge. We met an Irish couple in the pool who had been traveling around SE Asia for quite a while. Having experience in the bar trade, they were looking to set up a guesthouse in SL but just not sure where. Gerry and Theresa...good luck to you!!!!

We came out for dinner and June had come on duty at 2pm...again hugs from her. As soon as we walked out, the power went out and stayed out for about an hour. That was something that we had experienced throughout Sri Lanka - though it usually didn't last for that long.
Lights on - dinner and of course, cold beers and then it was off to bed. Our flight to Singapore doesn't leave until 11am so no early morning for us tomorrow and we're very happy about that.

29 April 2017

Up, breakfast (one more of Aunties waffles and ice cream), finish packing and it was off to the airport with Tony, but not before our best wishes to the wonderful people we met in Sri Lanka. We're only half way through our trip. Singapore being our next stop. We're very excited to see what the next three weeks will bring.

Auntie, Tony, Gerry and Sonny

Auntie, Tony, Gerry and Sonny

.......I generally hate "good-byes" and this departure is no different...so it's "until we meet again" which I sincerely hope will be soon.

The three of us, Brenda, Jim and myself, feel that Sri Lanka is definitely a special place. We found that it's people, though still recovering after having suffered through years of war and a devastating tsunami, are warm, lovely people. Guesthouse owners have gone over and above to make sure that we enjoyed our time with them. Sri Lanka is beautiful from it's beaches to it's mountains. Jim made every effort in attempts to try every version of Curry Rice that Sri Lanka had to offer...and I'm not sure, but I think he succeeded. We would like nothing more that to return to this wonderful country, see areas that that we missed due to time constraints and maybe, just maybe, more rice and curry for Jim.

Posted by pjburke 20:18 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (2)

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