Face to face with a person of the forest

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Bukit Lawang Indah Hostel

Flag of Indonesia  , Aceh,
Saturday, August 28, 2010

We got up at about 8am after sleeping like logs. We walked out on to our porch way to a totally different scene.  Last night it had been so dark we couldn't see anything but now this morning we were overlooking the river and the village on the other side with the huge jungle to our left..it was amazing.  We had breakfast then decided to go for a short walk over to the village across the huge pedestrian wooden plank suspension bridge.  No sooner had we got up there than a group of five Thomas Leaf monkeys started to run straight at us from across the bridge.  We stood there frozen not sure what to do until they jumped up on to the cross bars of the bridge and then over to the restaurant roof where we had just come from.  It was a great welcome to the jungle.

We had a short walk around the village with everyone smiling and saying hello to us, and without trying to sell us anything.  It was all so lovely.  Then we went over to Graeme and Ewa’s hotel to meet them and decide what we were going to do with the day.  Firstly we visited the Bat Cave about a 2km walk from the village through eco gardens and outlying forest.  Unbelievably Ewa made the first 'nature spot’ a Praying Mantis sat right in the middle of the path in front of us.  It was amazing and even seemed to pose for photographs – what a beautiful and unusual looking creature.  We arrived at the entrance to the Bat Cave to a man who was sweeping the sand who told us he was the guide and that it was 5,000 Rupiah each to gain entrance to the cave.  We gave him the money expecting him to take the lead but he simply continued sweeping, there was a sign though so he wasn’t a total fraud.

We basically had to climb up rocks in to the cave which was pitch black we had each brought a torch so we could light the way and we did find a few creepy crawlies underfoot on our way in.  We managed to get quite far in to the cave where we saw and heard the bats which were all hung above our heads menacingly.  Having seen what we came to see we made our way back to the lodge and ran in to a Dutch girl who had a tractor tyre in hand and was on her way to the river to spend the afternoon tubing.  The four of us gate crashed and grabbed two huge rings (they were big enough to share) and spent the next couple of hours on the river getting soaked and submerged under the water.  The latter wasn’t supposed to happen especially as I had the old camera with the room key and Andrew’s watch in a sealable plastic bag but somehow on the first rocky waterfall rapids bit I threw the bag (or it fell out of my hands) and it went in the water and Andrew managed to catch it.  The camera decided not to work for a while so I’d only gotten a few photos of us tubing.  At one point we all had to get out of our rings and jump down a waterfall which wasn’t as deep as some of us had expected and I actually touched the bottom as we landed which wasn’t the best.  It was a great way to cool down though but the river was a lot more rocky than we had expected so a few of us had sore bums. 

We all left the Dutch girl and the guide to carry on down the river as we wanted to see a taster of what we had really come to Bukit Lawang for and make the 3pm feeding at the Bohorok Orang-utan Viewing Centre.  On the way to the centre we had lunch at a little restaurant that Graeme recognised as being in the Lonely Planet we all really enjoyed it but had to rush it down so we didn’t miss the start of the feeding.  It was a very steep climb up to the viewing platform and when we got there two centre staff where sat on the platform occasionally banging a plank to call the Orang-utans.  We thought we might have to wait a long while to see any Orang-utans but literally within 10 minutes they started to arrive and it was such an amazing sight to see them swing down from the trees and vines with such ease, some carrying babies to grab some bananas and drink.  Apparently the centre has successfully re-released 200 Orang-utans that were previously in captivity or victims of habitat displacement due to logging – oh don’t get either Andrew or myself started on the subject of logging!

We stayed for about 45 minutes and saw about 6 Orang-utans come to feed and hand around posing for pictures.  A few, including the infamous Mina who has bitten quite a few of the guides and is known to be ‘crazy’ came round to where we were sat and we had to quickly move out of the way, it was weird to be so close to these semi wild creatures.  We came away from the place on a high we had been blown away by what we had seen and now at least if we didn’t manage to see any wild Orang-utans on our jungle trek we could still leave happy. We all had dinner together that night in our hostel again but didn’t stay out too late as we weren’t sure what tomorrow might hold.
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Dil on

Awesomw pictures. What an experience, to see your own gene pool so close up Andy ha ha. Seriously though, what a great experience eh.

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