Sunday, May 8, 2011

KALAWEIT , Indonesia, 29th December 2009

There's a new couple arriving today, so I have moved into Adam's room, into the bed where the snake was found!!!!

The couple will complete the camp as there are three rooms, each with two beds for the maximum of 6 volunteers.

This is a great balance because we get to work closely with the members of staff and get a much more hands on experience.

Adam has volunteered at 2 other gibbon places in Thailand, where there are as many as 30 volunteers at one time. It was much harder to get more directly involved.

In Thailand and Vietnam, there is a big market for gibbons as pets. Atrocious.
I had thought that, like the orangutan, that gibbons were limited to the Indonesian islands, but this is not true at all.

The pets are kept in cages outside houses in Thailand and Vietnam so that when visitors arrive to the house, the poor gibbon makes noises, most probably feeling threatened by the new visitor. Such cruelty.

I felt super tired today, but dragged my lazy body out of bed knowing that I could see Tongki. He was, as always, so cute, holding my hand, like he does all the time now.

Then, a spot of laundry. I rather enjoyed doing the towels, it's very therapeutic, especially to the sound of the gibbon song and in the heat of the sunshine.

So now, we await breakfast followed by the arrival of the newbies...busy, busy!!

Still very knackered, I am now sprawled on the veranda half dozing. I was about to pass out when, at 11am, we decided to go and check on the gibbons and collect the garbage from their cages. The garbage is mostly strong, or empty cartons from their strawberry milk treats, but we managed to load up an wicker basket.

Then, the banana delivery came...! By boat! So, we loaded them into the hut. Hopefully, there will be some lengpek for tongki too! Ayung and I ate some fresher than fresh rambutan..YUM!

It is bliss out here. Right now, midday, some of the gibbons are calling to one another, the birds are singing and the frogs are ribbiting. Simply wonderful; a great time to let you mind wander.....

When I woke up, it was so hot I could barely move. but, I could hear that Rio was leavng to go back to Sumatra. He would often help at Hampapak when Nanto, the local vet wasn't on the island. Some other staff leave too, and camp feels very empty.

The stillness and the peace are quickly shattered by young Ayung shouting BERNANG!!! to me at the top of his voice. He wants to go swimming. Everyday, he wants to go swimming!

Boiled bananas!!
Now there is a treat! Plus a few regular ones for desert. The taste is amazing, so sweet, so fresh.

There is a gentle storm brewing, imagine this - sheet lightning across the forests of Borneo. For once, it is not a scary storm, more one that you can marvel at and enjoy for the distance adds to the safety. It's not even raining here yet, but I am sure it will by bedtime...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

KALAWEIT, Indonesia, Monday 28th December 2009

What a life!!

I woke up a little before the gibbons started their song, so I went out to take a video and record the sound!

But, the video is barely a glimpse of the magic, you should really come here to see for yourself!! Kalaweit is always welcoming volunteers, so do check in!

In the bathroom, the spider has moved across the wall somewhat and has a couple of friends with him, one installed behind some bottles, but remains undisturbed, even by me.

6am - The love affair of the century! Tongki and myself!
He hardly wanted to eat, more be sleepy, cute and hold my hand. When he looks you in the eyes, his stare is intense, with such trust, but such hidden sadness too.

The tears well up as I write this two hours later, so you can imagine the wreck I am at feeding time.

It is a wonder he trusts humans at all. I cannot imagine the things he has seem and the family he has lost. The reality is, poachers probably shot his mother and father dead before his young eyes. But the poaching (for pet purposes mainly) isn't always so straight forward. Sometimes the whole family might be killed, so the poachers go find another family.
Up to 10 gibbons can die, just so one person can have a gibbon as a pet.

Of course they are adorable, but we have to let them live their natural lives. However, it is hard to let go when Tongki pulls back on my hand, clearly feeling relaxed and content in my presence.

Then it was time to feed the rest of the gibbons. They are all so different! Thankfully, I was a little more prepared and remembered the aggressive ones!

Chanee came by and talked with us just before lunch. What we were talking about made me realise how me feeding a small cute gibbon was such a tiny deed in the the big picture. There is so much going on in Indonesia. There is a lot of corruption too. It made me realise that I wanted to share my knowledge and support Kalaweit forever. And no, we have Kalaweit in Japan, as well as Australia, Belgium, Germany and of course, France.

We spent the afternoon playing with the Maribu. He is a funny bird, he stares at you with his glassy blue eyes, but he does like to step a little too close for comfort!!
He even cornered me down by the boats before...scary. You don't want him pecking you with that beak!

By now, the only noises to be heard belong to the flies, the geckos and Ayung, the cook's son, who is throwing bits of coconut around!

It is simply amazing to be amongst this and it's Borneo! How lucky am I to be here!!
the peacefulness is suddenly shattered by Ayung jumping on my back, but it's such fun!

After a rather yummy lunch, with crispy fried salmon, I realised I had to cave in and pass out. I woke up (feeling sticky hot!) at 3.30pm! What a great nap, and just in time for Tongki's feeding time.

4pm - I'm totally going to sponsor him when I get back. It will be amazing to follow his development and growth until his release into the wild, with a partner, where he belongs.It is great that you can adopt gibbons, I totally recommend it!

As we sat around waiting for dinner, it rained a heavy rain. Very quickly, puddles were formed ...again. I tried to imagine the flooding from earlier on in the month and how it would affect everything. At least for the gibbons, as I have said before, they would just go to the top of their cages.

The gibbons that would stay nearer the ground at feeding time, Chanee explained to us, are the ones who would attack if they were released. If they hang from the cages more freely, they will be the ones more likely to adapt to their new surroundings when released.

We also talked about the rainforests here in central Kalimantan. It is here where most of the trees have gone, so there is nothing for animals like the gibbon and the orangutan.

The whole situation is corrupt. Even for the move, Chanee needs to pay extra costs to transport the wooden cages to prove he is not logging, which is silly, as he is running an organisation against all that. It is just a way for people to get extra money.

And then, there is the issue of palm oil and, I am just skirting over the simple points. It goes much deeper than this, with people on the same sides fighting and disagreeing too.

All we can do is help; there is no one simple answer.