Bears at Dawn
Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
82Trip End Sep 01, 2006
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I am in Kao Look Chang, working hard and completely exhausted! After saying goodbye to Danny and heading to the station it felt a little strange to be alone but also exciting to be starting the volunteering. The train journey was long, hot and crowded but spotlessly clean as men in uniform kept walking up and down the carriages sweeping and moping all the way, very efficient. I was desperately trying to stay awake so I didn't miss my stop but thankfully people with buckets of cold drinks also wandered up and down providing sugar and caffeine. Once at Hue-Hin I needed to organize a tuk-tuk to take me the 45min ride out to the rescue center. After much haggling, mobile phone calls and three possible drivers we finally set off. A scenic and bumpy drive to the center and I'm starting to get nervous. When we pulled up there are loads of people sat around a table chatting (and staring at the new arrival)
I have been at the center for a week now and am really loving it. The days are long and hard work (especially as it's averaging 37 degrees and is only gonna get hotter!) but is really fun. Getting up at 6am (the gibbons start singing at 5:30 though so no alarm required) and we finish about 5:30 in the evening. Everyone is rostered on different jobs each day and once done you are free to do what you like till the next job. The main jobs are preparing the food for the animals and cleaning out the enclosures as well as coming up with new enrichment ideas. There are loads of macaques and gibbons which have been rescued from the illegal pet trade but my favorite is Meuow the tiger. He was kept in a tiny cage outside a garage for months living off chicken scraps and so has brain and nervous system damage. He is so gentle though and loved the blood ice lollies I came up with!
There are about 18 volunteers at the moment all really nice as well as 12 dogs, two hornbills (one who loves playing football) and elephants from the next door rescue project wandering around
As I have worked with animals before and they were pleased with how I was getting along I was offered Quarantine training, which is looking after the injured and baby animals at the center. The job is harder as you are on your own but the 8 month old sun bear and baby gibbons are great to work with. So from tomorrow I will be in Quarantine alternate days which I am really pleased about.
This week though I have been scratched by gibbons, attacked by fire ants, grabbed by macaques, given frozen watermelons to bears, almost flooded one of the enclosures on my second day, given a shower to lagurs, scrubbed out water pools, eaten too many ice creams from the 'Ice Man' who comes everyday and have a swollen pus-covered arm from a reaction to a plant - its been great!
The other night we watched some of the Animal Planet programmes featuring the center as well as the very interesting documentary 'Born to Brothels' as the academy award winning film producer is filming a new animal documentary at the center, I had no idea how big this place was before I arrived
Of all the animals the best name award goes to Bandit, the baby macaque with only one arm and the worst goes to Dundee, the originally named crocodile!
OK on that note I miss you all, and hope to hear from you soon
ps. promise to include pictures of people too next time....