Saturday, March 5, 2011

KALAWEIT, Indonesia - Christmas Day 2009!!! (Hampapak)

OK, I have been on the boat for what feels like a very long time, in reality, it's probably only around 20 minutes, but we are venturing into the unknown. All I see are trees and water and trees and water. Camp must be near...

Arriving at Palangka Raya airport was interesting. The airport (hut) had just a few passengers, and as you can imagine, I stuck out immensely, a sweating ball of curiosity and fascination. Emil & Eko, my drivers, took me along the Palangka Raya plains to the Kalaweit office and now to the boat where it does feel like an age, but it has started to
become more enclosed now....We must be near!!

Arriving at camp was a bit emotional. What an amazing feeling to finally be able to lay my bags down at the end destination.

Clambering out of the speed boat was fun, not elegant, but not too traumatic! Waiting at camp were Jean Paul, and his girlfriend Sophie and Adam. It looked very chilled indeed and it looks like this will be a very relaxed and lovely time.

I arrived bang on the gibbon's (in the clinic) feeding time - YAY!

Welcome to Hampapak!!! -
In the clinic, there are 3 gibbons. These guys are newly rescued and ADORABLE. Adam showed me how to feed Tongky,a cheeky boy gibbon, who liked to play around a bit before actually drinking his milk and eating his fruit.

It was all pretty magical and I really could have cried my eyes out, such was the emotion running through me. Tongky was awesome!! He came for his syringe of milk.....eventually anyway. So cute. Then I held a baby banana for him to bite from. Watching him eat right there in front of me was amazing. I couldn't get the smile off my face. Pure magic.

He took his time eating but it was great to simply stare and take it all in. This is what it was all about.

I was shown ''my room'' - 2 beds per room, with mosquito nets and some cupboards. Of course I have chosen the bed with the cartoon characters on the sheets!

But, it was already time for lunch - Steamed rice, cucumbers or courgettes in some salty, but really yummy sauce and some fried eggs. I was so hungry that I wolfed it down, so happy to be on the island of Hampapak, grounded. Dessert was the finest banana I have ever eaten, it was the size of my index finger, but as fresh as could be!! Yummo!

Then the guys (Adam and the Kalaweit staff) wanted to go off fishing...I went along for the 5 minute speed boat journey up the water to one of the dudes' houses. It was, quite simply, a hut on water.

A very small hut, at that. I could see a thin futon style mattress hanging on a rafter and, it seemed, that was all there was space for.

Outside the hut, he had wooden boxes, sitting under the water level, and apparently, storing fish, but we had no joy fishing with the rods, so we got the net and captured and load of snake fish, AKA dinner (!)

One of the guys grabbed a fish and showed me its teeth...You would not want to get bitten by them! So, you can imagine how I freaked when a few of them jumped out of the bag!! But we, rather they (!) rescued them, no worries!

Back at the ranch, the little beauties were washed and we just had to relax. Adam threw in some bamboo sticks to the sunbears. There are two in an enclosure next to the main hut. They are just adorable, I have never seen anything like them, especially not so close. Two small sunbears, separated from their families too early. One, the little one, just whimpered and ate his hand nervously. The other one, slightly bigger and stronger went straight for the bamboo and ripped it open to get at the banana.

All this as the rain started to fall. Right now, the storm is over us. It's just a little rain and thunder, sounds great on the corrugated iron roof. The thunder is spreading over Kalimantan and isn't too strong. Apparently, the rain was really bad before (remember , I had been told about the floods) and Chanee was actually contemplating stopping the volunteers from coming!!! Thank goodness that was not the case.

It's wonderful right now - It's 3.15pm and I am just sitting in a hut under the rain amongst the Borneo rain forest. Simply an amazing Christmas day.♥♥

All the animals have gone quiet in the rain, save a cricket or two, whistling away.

There's a baby macaque to the left of me in a cage (in quarantine). I can see him pottering about a bit, but the gibbon cage in view opposite, shows no signs of movement. I guess he is is hiding from the drizzle, just like the rest of them.

In quarantine, there are up to 80 gibbons being looked after. We walked through earlier and I have to say that, not all of them looked cute or friendly, like little Tongky in the clinic. Fair enough, mind, these are the ones who have been brought up in the wrong environment and then rescued after their owners had chained them up. One of the cheeky blighters stuck his hand out at me to swipe at me...scared me, but mostly reminded me that they are not called te-naga-zaru (テナガザル) for nothing (long armed monkey, in Japanese, although, please note, that they are lesser apes and not monkeys).

There were a couple of oldies, baldies, and fanged up ones too...made me think of my friend, Donna's fear!! But I am still reminded that these are special creature and I aim to do my little bit to help to save them.
Also on camp, there is a mad horn bill, a big black bird with a fantastic yellow beak (bigger than a toucan) and a white furry bottom! He has been pounding on the roof, back and forth, although, now, in the rain, he is happily hovering over the toilet area under some shelter.

There is also a marabou who, at this present moment, is just sat near me, collecting water around his feet and letting the rest run down his back.

He looks rather sad and bald. I don't know his story, but I know he bites. His beak is rather long!

The python killed off 2 of the gibbons, but has been found. My only fear now, is that the big buzzing thing that was in my room earlier will have made an exit by the time I go to sleep.

Tomorrow, I will meet Rahud, my sponsor gibbon. I can't wait! I hope he likes me!

(4pm) Feeding time soon, for the gibbons, not for me, although, I am already hungry! lol

This time, I looked after Manisa (all the gibbons inside the clinic are boys). We took him out and wrapped him in a towel. He was only 4 months old. I suddenly felt rather warm with this furry creature on my lap, but bless the poor blighter, he had peed with nerves on me! Great introduction! Nevertheless, he drank and ate and drank and drank.

What an appetite and soooo cute! But, we have to resist the urge to stroke them or cuddle them. It isn't good for them to get too used to human contact and attention as this will make it harder for them to be released into the wild, or to be paired up with their partner.

Snake fish for dinner - !!!!!
And so to bed...but not so easily!!

Bugs galore to freak me out -

First up, a big spider in the bed next to me!!! By big, I wouldn't say it was the size of my hand, but, then I shone the torch at it, its eyes stared right back at me.....

And then, a toilet trip, with a scary twist; similar glaring eyes watching you as you do what you have to do from a corner in the ceiling. But, apparently he has remains in the same spot for a short while, so I am told he is ok!!!

Finally, Adam (pictured above with Manisa) was hollering ''Snake! Snake!''. I simply had to go and watch and stare. He found it under the mattress in the bed next to his (soon to become my bed...!) I was fascinated as the Kalaweit staff and Adam too caught it.

I have no idea, nor want to know if he was dangerous or not, he was just bagged up and left, to be released far far away from here tomorrow.

For now, slumber sets in early. It's only around 9pm on Christmas day, but, a healthy fatigue begins to weigh on us all and we all say Goodnight & sweet dreams.

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