Happy Jungle Birthday

Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
Trip End Jan 22, 2013

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Flag of Indonesia  , Sumatra,
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

We had an amazing 3 days in Bukit Lawang and celebrated K's birthday in the jungle!! Bukit Lawang is known for the Gunung Leuser National Park where visitors make the trip to trek in the park to see some of the orangutans that reside there.
Our 2 day/1 night jungle trek was joined by 2 girls from Germany and led by our guides Aldo and Baba. They were all so much fun and the guides were really fantastic, singing and making us laugh all along the way.
On day 1, we saw our first orangutan Sandra high in the trees in her nest. Apparently she had grabbed a tourist's backpack the day before and she was playing with it in her nest. I had no idea orangutans even make nests!! We were told that they migrate from one nest to another between 5 to 6 times a day!
As we continued, we saw a mom orangutan Jackie and her baby. The baby was very active, climbing between the trees and the mom was surprisingly very quiet despite our presence. I thought she would be more protective around her baby but she just watched us from afar as we snapped pics of her adorable baby. We continued on and saw Mina and and another orangutan on the ground. Mina is a very famous female orangutan that has been written about in Lonely Planet and other travel guides as one to look out for. She is known to show aggression and intimidate tourists. We didn't have any problems with Mina, but Baba did warn us to hurry because she frequently follows trek groups and demand food.
Besides orangutans, we saw many smaller monkeys in the jungle. Gibbons supposedly reside in the park also, but we are not lucky enough to see them on our trek.
After trekking for 5 hours, we were greeted with a downpour and trekking became very difficult. We were starting to descend the mountain so climbing down some steep hills that were muddy and slippery became quite dangerous. We were drenched but took our time and finally made it to the camp by the river, where we were to spend the night.

Now let me just talk about this camp.
The "camp" consisted of a large plastic cover hanging over some wooden branches that were sticking up from the ground. No tent. No mosquito net. No zipper to enclose ourselves from the jungle creatures and insects. And what we had to sleep on were some mats that were so thin they wouldn't even qualify for yoga! But we were in a jungle after all. We had to make the best of what we had. While Eldie, another staff who met us at the camp, prepared our dinner, we went swimming in the river in the pouring rain. We were already drenched so why not! The river was also our shower for the night so we took our soap along and bathed in our bathing suit, then washed our sweaty and filthy clothes right in the river! K and I just laughed at each other. You don't get to experience that too often!
Dinner was quite a feast, considering Eldie only had one wok and one wood burning fire pit (aka stove) to work with. We were served some chicken, soya bean sauté, vegetable curry and white rice. They were all delicious. The boys ate everything with their hands. Even though this is the fourth country where I have seen people eat with hands, it's always fascinating to watch how efficient they are. The rice here isn't even sticky so they fall between the fingers but somehow the locals manage to form a spoon with their fingers and shove food in their mouth.

After dinner, Aldo and Bubba made us laugh for hours (literally hours!) with their endless puzzles, magic tricks and card games. I kept laughing so hard my stomach hurt! They were SO hilarious. K got serenaded a birthday song by the group and what a day to spend a birthday! K definitely had a memorable one :-)
The bedtime was the worst part of this trip. We were practically sleeping on the ground with so little padding for our body, it was extremely uncomfortable. It was painful to sleep in one position for more than an hour at a time and I had to keep shifting my body all through the night. I honestly don't think I slept. I remember being awake most of the night.
On Day 2, we skipped trekking and we decided to head to a waterfall to play in the water. The rain cleared out and we had a beautiful sunny day! To end our jungle tour, we all hopped on rubber tubes and drifted downstream in the river. That was another great fun! We were so sad for our adventure to end!
Then Baba and Aldo invited us to a BBQ to continue celebrating K's birthday that night. We met up with the boys later at night, and they grilled some fish and chicken, and made a fabulous picnic for us at a top of a hill. Some of his friends joined us and played a guitar and sang, while we ate another fabulous meal with fantastic friends.
We LOVED Bukit Lawang!! Everybody was super friendly in this town. As we walked through the main street, we were always greeted by people who welcomed us, who asked us where we were from, or who just said hello. A lot of people were familiar with some Japanese vocabulary, and wanted to throw us every Japanese word they knew.
And the hotel we stayed in was the best! We were right on the river facing the national park. Our huge veranda with a hammock faced right into the jungle. We were a bit removed from the main street so it was so peaceful - all we could hear was the sound of the river, and we really felt like we were living in a jungle house!
I wish we had a few more days to walk around the village, relax, talk to the locals and explore a bit more. But oh well. K's husband patiently awaits her return and I must move onto my next scuba destination, Bali :-)

K and I said our tearful goodbyes at the airport and our 2 week journey together sadly came to an end today :-(

(Atsushi, thank you for letting me borrow K for 2 weeks ;-) We had an amazing time! See you in Japan soon.)
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Shana on

Where are the monkey pictures for me??

oshioshi on

Of course, every time I saw a monkey I thought of you!! ;-)

oli on

I'm so jealous, it looks like something I would totally enjoy :p

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