Wednesday, December 30, 2009

funny, large primates... & orangutans

We just arrived in Banjarmasin after spending 2 nights on a boat viewing the orangutans. The boat is smaller, 2 levels and had a crew of 4 (cook, captain, guide and the deckhand). We sleep up top in the open air with a mattress and mosquito net. On the first day we saw several types of monkeys (proboscis, macaque, gibbons) from the boat as we travelled down the river. On the first day we stopped at a feeding station, used to give supplemental feed to orphan/injured orangutans that were returned to the wild. We watched as a large male ate his bananas and cassava root. He was an intimidating fellow!

Then we docked along the edge for the night. The next day we went to another feeding station and saw several orangutans; moms and babies and assorted single adults. Unfortunately there ended up being around 20 other tourists there and some were not respecting the rules of not touching or feeding directly. So we left early and walked around the area. We were fortunate to come across a wild boar mom and her 6 piglets (boarlets?). I nicknamed them Bacon & Bacon Bits. (I've always imagined that if I ever had an acreage I'd rescue a few livestock and give them ironic names like for chickens I'd call them: noodle & nugget). That night we again docked along the river to watch the amazing fireflies. It is hard to describe but they twinkle in the palm fronds like Christmas lights. I've never seen anything like it. One even landed on me & was quite neat to see up close. However, we soon had to abandon our first dock site. We could hear loud splashing and palm frond trunks snapping. After the crew and us debated whether it was a crocodile or an orangutan, we decided it sounded like a strong and angry orangutan. Then we moved down the river! There is a potential that orangutans that are released may come looking for food on the boat. The idea of waking up to a hungry, large, strong, hairy red primate going through your stuff is rather unsettling. We did in fact see one female orangutan at the second feeding station eyeing up a banana bunch on a docked boat.

So now we are in Banjarmasin for the night with plans to fly to manado via Jakarta in the morning. Manado is in a good snorkeling area so we are hopeful we can find a place to stay. Today we went out to the mall and more so than in other areas of Indonesia we are quite the spectacle. If I interpret the stares, pointing and laughing correctly, we are quite hilarious. I just respond with a big smile and everyone smiles back and continues to giggle. In all fairness we are both giants by local averages.

No comments: