Octsober 22nd: Wasn’t too bad a night, Robbie claimed he didn’t get much sleep because of Peter’s snoring but I heard a lot of snoring coming from my starboard side, so not sure how much sleep was had! Robbie likened the sound of Peters snoring to being on a passage on Southern Star with the engine noise. The mosquito nets seemed to do the trick – no nasties in the night. I woke up quite early and got up and got some good shots on the camera. There was a beautiful Kingfisher sitting in the trees just opposite. They are bright yellow with a bright orange bill and feet and bright blue wings. Very pretty. He stayed there for over an hour, hopping down a couple of trees. The river was flat calm, you could only hear a few bird noises, and the jungle foliage was reflecting on the water, it was magnificent. The others eventually all got up and we were served a lovely breakfast of pancakes, toast, scrambled egg and a choice of marmalade or a Nutella like paste made from peanuts. We set off for the first Orangutan camp of the day about 7:30am ready for the feeding at 9:00am. I must admit I thought yesterday had been so good it would be hard to top it, but I have to say it was really worth doing the 3 camps. The 3rd one was down river again and that was at 3:00pm and they were all different and well worth the time. We took hundreds of photos and could have stayed there for hours watching them. They are so human like in so many ways, but very strong limbs and very hairy!!
After the last camp we headed back down river towards Kumai and our own boats. The trip was uneventful, mainly playing cards and water pistol fights. In the end our guide Dodi pinched the guns for a play and we told him to keep them as he enjoyed it so much.
As we came into the main river opposite the town we saw what we thought were Dolphins, but was actually Dugongs having a bit of a fight in the river. Back on board Southern Star, and all was well. David and Andrea from Diomedea had very kindly hopped on board last night after their day trip and run the generator for an hour or so for us which was great.
Robbie pretty much went to bed but I stayed up and sorted out the photos which there were hundreds of, and stupidly deleted one whole day off the SD card because I was tired and not thinking. Arrrrhhhhh! I Googled it and apparently I may be able to get them back but will leave that to someone more experienced than I. Sam- where are you???
Octsober 21st: We were picked up by our boat (called a klotok) just before 8:00am and headed down river. The klotok is an all timber boat, about 15m long and about 3m wide. The top deck was basically clear except for a hand basin. There is a roof which is tarps over a timber frame and the sides are open, with roll down tarps. There were steps down to the lower area where there were two toilets (western style thank goodness) but no plumbing, you grab a ladle of water from a large bucket to flush!! There is an area between the toilets and then you step down to the kitchen area, there wasn’t a lot of appliances apart from a gas camp cooktop. Then there was a storage area where they had the bedding stored, and then through to the wheelhouse, which is low down on the very front. Robbie of course had to do an engine check and it was very basic. A truck motor with a lot of string and cable ties holding everything together. (More on this later!) A gear stick was a big handle sticking out of the floor that you move either forwards or backwards. There were 4 staff, the guide, the captain, his assistance and a cook. The cost was 1.7 million rupiah, or $170 per person. This was all inclusive, boat, food, guide, National Park entry etc.
We had a lovely trip up the river, very narrow in places, jungle on both sides although in places you could see the land had been stripped behind the outside layer. The water got darker as we travelled, eventually it ended up black, but started out a very muddy brown. We did see a crocodile dive under the water as we went past. We saw lots of small monkeys and some of the Probiscus monkeys, which have the long nose. I spotted an Orangutan, he was just hanging in a tree chilling. At first he was so still I thought it must have been a growth or something in the tree but then he moved. Of course the camera wasn’t nearby! We also a Hornbill, a black and white large bird, with a massive horn on its bill. We were served a nice lunch of fish, chicken, rice and watermelon. We had a lot of fun and laughs on the trip up. Per had brought his Orangutan suit and on a number of opportunities threw it on and made very Orangutan like moves surprising firstly the crew on our boat and then any poor boat that passed us on the river, including some locals who didn’t know what to think! We also had an awful lot of fun with the water pistols, especially targeting unsuspecting rally members who were also on other boats.
As we were motoring up the river near the first camp, all of a sudden we just literally glided on into the thick bush on the edge of the river! The steering cable had snapped! Surprise, surprise – NOT! Pretty soon there were about 5 -6 boats piling up behind us as the river was quite narrow. So we all had to transfer onto another boat to get to the camp, while our captain repaired our boat. Our guide assured us the repairs would be completed by the time we had finished the visit to the Orangutans (and it was)
Our first Orangutan camp feeding was at Camp Leakey at 3:00pm. There were about 8 other boats all with 2-4 tourists on board so it was quite busy. We had only walked about 1 minute on a timber boardwalk when our guide Dodi (Just like Diana’s boyfriend he told us) stopped us, there was a large female Orangutan blocking the boardwalk. Dodi made me walk past first and I was just in awe of her, she was really beautiful, very big but docile and sitting there like she was just checking us all out. We all edged past her, taking lots of photos of course. We had a 20 minute walk into the bush into the jungle and the feeding area. It is very natural and just a timber platform in a clearing where they put a large stack of bananas and then walk away and everyone waits for the Orangutans to show. It is quite strange as they seem to be solitary and only fed one at a time, except for the Mama’s who had the babies with them. The first Orangutan showed up and just sat on the platform and gorged herself on bananas, probably for about 15 minutes, once she left the others followed. You would see and hear the Orangutans coming in the trees but they never really all fed at once. Their table manners left a lot to be desired, they just squeeze the bananas out and stuff them in their mouths, sometimes a lot at once and then sit there with the banana’s oozing out! The babies, of course stole the show, very, very cute and always touching their mama with one hand at all times. They stay with their Mama’s for about 5 years.
Back to the boat where we were fed deep fried bananas which were gorgeous, and then we headed down river to our anchorage for the night which was only a short distance and basically was just an indent in the jungle bush of about 2 metres. We relaxed and played 500 until another really good dinner was served. Our bedding was brought out and set up for us, mattresses on the top deck along with really nice mosquito nets.
Octsober 20th: Went into the town (Kumai) with Peter and Heidi who had organised a car to do some shopping for Peter to try and find some heavy duty battery cables for his engine problem. Heidi and I got dropped off at the Mall and the boys continued to do their boy stuff. It was lovely for us girls to be able to wander around the shops with no stress or timelines. Alas – there were only 4 shops in the mall! An optometrist, a donut and coffee place, a restaurant AND Hypermarket! This is one of the best shops we have found yet in Indonesia. It was just like K-Mart but also had a really good range of groceries. I brought a few bits and pieces, including two water pistols for our trip up the river. The boys eventually found us having a coffee and a donut. We had some lunch in the Hypermarket and headed back to the boats.
Octsober 18 & 19th: Arrived at Kumai at 12:00 lunch time. Diomedea offered to take us into town in their duck which saves us the hassle of taking ours down and also finding somewhere to park it when at shore. We had a walk through the town and a cold drink. Our mission was to organise the Orangutan jungle tour. Could not believe the concrete buildings with the bird noises. Turns out they are owned by Chinese who have built the big buildings and installed the speaker systems to attract the swallows who build their nests in and on the buildings. The nests are made from clay or mud that the birds swallow, and mix with their saliva. The mix is then used by the birds to build their nests. After the chicks have left, the nests are harvested and used for soup, cosmetics and medicine! Yuk! Better find out which and boycott those products quick! We determined that Andrea and David only wanted to do a day tour but we, Stormvogel and Oda were happy to do the overnight, 2 days and 1 night on one of their river boats which are called Klotoks. We inspected one of the boats and it looked, OK. So we booked it and headed back to Southern Star. We ended up moving as we were told we were a bit far out in the river and they have a lot of huge tankers and ships manoeuvring so we were quite happy to move closer in to the edge of the river, which is just jungle. But is deceiving, only a short layer and then apparently the jungle has been decimated for Palm Oil which they use for a number of things. This has also threatened the Orangutans by eliminating their habitat.