Orange Apes and Torrential Downpours

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Once again, the day started with a trip to the Indonesian consulate. This time everything went very smoothly as we were on time and well prepared. We were out within half an hour with instructions to return at 4pm to pick up the passports.
We wanted to go to a nearby orangutan rehabilitation preserve to take a look at these great hairy orange primates. Iza did not want to irritate her eye any more with the bike ride, so with Tomek they opted for a day in town.
After another 45 minute ride, we arrived at the orangutan park at around noon time. Once again, our timing was off. Feeding time was at 9am and the next one was in three hours. Our chances of seeing the orange monkeys were quite slim according to both the guide book and the park ranger. We decided to press our luck and hired a guide for a short 2km jungle trek.
We were not very well prepared for the walk. All of us wore shorts. Ola had short tennis shoes on, and Weronika and I wore flip-flops. The trail was well worn, but still muddy and slippery at times. Along the way we saw some termite mounds, carnivorous pitcher plants, bats hanging out in under a roof, marching ants, giant ants, and an alien-looking centipede. Everyone was a little dismayed at the unsurprising lack of orangutangs, but our minds were busy fretting over and trying to avoid the supposedly ubiquotous but as for now invisible leeches which wait on leaves and branches for a tasty meal.
Success. Far off in the distance the leaves are rustling. A slinky tree bends as an orange furball flings itself from one canopy to canopy in our direction. Enter Murray. Each orangutang in this park has a name. Like people, they also have different personalities and temperaments. Later we learn from a sign later on that Murray is quite short tempered and is prone to shower visitors in urine. A real life poo slinger. Luckily, he stopped a short distance away from us up in the canopy and made noises as our guide advised us to continue before Murray shows his true colors, which are not as brilliantly orrange as his fur.
With the hike a great success, we sat down to relax, threw off our shoes, and cleaned our feet. Ola nervously threw down her shoe as she noticed “something” in it. Further inspection showed a fat little leach squirming around in her tennis shoe. A small bite between her toes bled lightly, as she expressed her general disgust and displeasure of the situation at hand. Unfortunately, leeches are a reality of jungle trekking which we were all aware of. This may have been the first leech, but I doubt it was the last one as we head deeper into the rainforests of Borneo.
As we rode back, the sky opened up the little bullets of rain pelted us as we drove down the road. We stopped for a bit at a bus stop to seek shelter, but from the look of the angry cloud cover, it did not look like the rain was stopping any time soon. We bit the bullet and continued in the rain, quickly becoming drenched. We drove slowly and carefully to a nearby town to grab an extremely cheap but tasty lunch (RM15 for four of us, with coffee). By now the rain let off for the most part, and we drove back into town.
Drenched from head to toe, we entered the Indonesian consulate. We looked like absolute bums, dripping wet and not quite clean from the earlier jungle trekking. We nervously produced the now soaked receipts to pick up our passports. Success. We now had 60 day visas to Indonesia.
In the evening, we celebrated our newly acquired visas with some drinks as the clothes dried. Tomorrow is another early day as we catch a high speed ferry to Sibu. From there on, we hope to be able to do a short trip to the traditional Iban people’s longhouses, where a whole village lives under one roof. We went to sleep to the nightly Chinese singing contest around the corner from our hostel.

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