Mothers and Babies

Trip Start Feb 26, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2013

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What I did

Flag of Indonesia  , Sumatra,
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today is Orangutan day.  We all agreed to have a 6 am wake up knock six the door, get breakfast and be ready to start our jungle walk to see the orangutans here.  Since I fell asleep shortly after I went to bed - before 10 pm - I was awake before the knock.  Actually I got cold during the night and woke up several times, but did wake up just before six sopo when the knock came I was washing my face in the bathroom and wasn't sure that it was the knock.
We gathered for breakfast.  Everything OK except that they lost the key to the breadbox and so couldn't serve any more toast and were reluctant to serve the eggs without toast.  We said we would be happy with just the eggs, some got omelets and others were willing to share their toast so all was well.  We had to wait a bit for the desk manager to lock up our valuables in the lock boxes - apparently security is an issue here - there are all kinds of warnings.  Mrs. Evy says that is because people are poor here.

We crossed the swaying foot bridge and headed in the opposite direction.  I don't think I was paying much attention because I couldn't tell you where we turned off to get to the Gunung Leuser National Park.  Our guide Sigar (or Fresh or Sugar) walked with us very slowly to accommodate Mr. Malcolm who has a very bad ankle.   In the beginning it was quite pleasant -- we walked by a locally-owned rubber plantation and saw the cups collecting the white sap.  We saw a man slashing some trees to start collecting the sap.  We also saw the house of the plantation owner; he is Indonesian and his wife is French.  We saw a soupsap tree with a fruit, two durian trees, some cacao trees, and two huge trees that were similar to mohagany.  A one point, we turned a corner and headed up the side of the mountain.  Here it began to get hairier - more twisted roots, a stream bed, just more difficult walking generally.  I was glad I had my stick.  Malcolm and I agreed at how wonderful they are.

Our guide kept making Orangutan noises to bring out the orangutans.  There were some white-handed gibbons calling out territorial warnings but we saw no orangutans.  We had pretty much covered all the places, the guides had gone into the jungle to check and found no hints of orangutans around so we headed to the feeding station.  Sigar did point out a nest from last week.  We headed out into what seemed more jungly area and then we stopped.  I am not sure when I became aware that people had seen something.  First thing I remember is Josephine asking whether I saw the orangutan and I kept nodding no until she pointed at it with my stick and I finally saw it.  We were watching when another orangutan came behind us and seemed to be heading up the path.  One of the other guides led us away and kept telling us to move farther up in order to get out of the orangutan's way.  One man told me that I was in danger because they might think I have bananas for them in my pack.  (I later saw a man with a pack giving out bananas from it).  These orangutans left - there was a mother and a 6 wk old baby.  This area was originally a rehabitation center where they released orangutans that had been in captivity.  They have since ceased the rehabilitation part in so far as orangutans come from other centers but they are still released here.  The mothers we saw today are released orangutans who mated with wild orangutans.  Females have 3 or 4 offspring during their lives and only get pregnant after their babies are independent - after 6 or 7 years.  so that  means that it is hard to build back the orangutan population and it is still declining because of poaching.

Not sure when I became awake of the feeding station and the orangutans in the area.  There was another mother with a 3 or 4 year old child orangutan.  They were so adorable playing together, rolling around and hugging.  The mother would lie down as if she were so tired.  The younster would swing from branches and vines and walk around.  It also would pick up and drop a stone.  It had lots of ways of playing and lots of enery.  I tried to take photos but it seemed it was not my best day.  Either I was in a wrong place, or the orangutans were too far away, or trees were in the way, or my SLR battery died, and the Lumix battery was close to dying.  While we were waiting for Malcolm to arrive in between sightings, there was a butterfly with blue on the outside of the wings that was very attached to me and kept sitting on my arm.  Mr Graham took a few pics of it on me.  We were all so happy when we saw the second set of orangutans when Malcolm had reached the spot so he could see them after his extreme effort to get up there.

We watched quite awhile.  After another group came, the mother and child left swinging through the trees.   After that, we went back down the mountain.  It wasn't easy - going uphill is hard for me but this was rough going - luckily I had my sticks.  I thought I only slipped and fell on my butt once, but Josephine reminded me it was twice.  Oh, well. - It was worth it.  We came back through the village and saw all the restaurants and hotels.  We were going to be coming back to a restaurant after showering.  And we did.  We all seemed to enjoy our meals.  The spaghetti had by Malcolm and Massimo was much appreciated with bellissima's from both of them.  Josephine and I had some lovely juices.  I am getting too sleepy now to continue.  I will try to add later.

Walking back to the hotel with Daywe, she told me how surprised she way that we all ate so much of our Indonesian food.  Most Westerners in her experience only eat a little bit to try and then go back to Western food.  She told me how Indonesians like chilies mixed with garlic and pounded into a paste almost called sambal.  The eat the little chilies and the curly chilis and the little green chilis.  They have two other condiments that are very strong and leave the breath rather odorous - worse than garlic.  In fact, it may take a week for the smell to go away.  I couldn't quite grasp what these vegetables were - bean-like sort of.  I think she told me other things about Indonesian food as well that I have forgotten.  Both Mrs. Evy and Daywe are extremely good about imparting information.  It seems important to share with us their Indonesian culture.  We learned palanpalan for very slowly.  I think I have please and thankyou down now.

Once back at the hotel, I think we were all pretty tired.  I washed my wet shirt, socks, and something else.  I blogged about our orangutan experience and then lay down for a nap.  I woke up around 5:45 pm and decided that it was too late to do anything so I might as well sleep a bit longer.  I was awake that it was raining at one point earlier and then I woke up again at 6:40 pm, rushed around collecting my valuables, changed, and went to meet the group for dinner.  We walked into the village from the hotel entrance over a cobblestone path that was wet from the rain.   Mrs. Evy had chosen a local Indonesian restaurant where we had family style service - which is typical Indonesian way of serving meals.  There was way too much but it was all good - the gadogado, the pineapple curry, deep fried mashed potato balls, beansprout curry, and then we had fruit for dessert with a milo drizzle.  They also gave us complimentary tamarillo drinks.  They must have been sweetened because the fresh tamarillo halves that only Malcolm and Massimo seemed to enjoy were very tart.  This brings us to the end of the evening...and the end of the day - almost 9 pm.

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