Thursday, July 21, 2011


In tourist resorts, people will hound you a lot to join their tour, buy from their shop etc. But, Bali has to be one of the craziest places where you simply cannot shake off a hawker no matter how skilled you may be.

'Look in my shop'.
'Looking, walking, looking...'

'Need driver tomorrow?'

'Jet ski?'

Whatever it may be on offer, think carefully about shrugging them off.

The silent treatment is good, if you like staring at pavements that is. Personally, I feel stupidly guilty at ignoring their polite greeting, so quickly smile and then look at the pavement shaking my head.

Hawkers come in a variety of guises. Men, women, there is no telling who will be worse.

Last year we were stung by a hideous driver. We thought organising him through the hotel was a good vibe, although bear in mind I had booked us the one and only skanky hotel in Bali! Clearly no one there is to be trusted.

The driver desperately tried to stop many a time to drop us at some 'traditional' Balinese thing, be it dancing, batik or plain Blah...

Thing is, we had just spent a few weeks travelling around Java (hence the cheap hotel, a booking we soon changed!) we had seen all the batik we had wanted to see. We had had our wedding rings made and engraved at a cute back street store where the 'factory' was the back work room. We certainly did not need to see more.

We were strong, but not strong enough. The driver succeeded in taking us to a Barong dance where we had to pay for the 'pleasure' of seeing even more gamelan (we were in fact on our way to BUY our own gamelan to lug back to Japan!)

We eventually got through to the guy that we did not need to see any ceramics, silverware, batik. He was not amused.

After our day in Ubud, we met him to drive back home. The journey back was longer and more painful. We had to refuse some night time dance performance, which then led to him telling us our hard his life was. He worked long hours, drove, had a family to car for ...blah blah.

He also had the nerve to make up a story about how his boss takes such a big percentage of the fare that we were about to pay.

In the end, we felt so sorry for him and were so glad to get out of the car, that we did tip him. However, we peered down the stairs in the hotel only to see him going back him to collect the money he had made us give to the front desk.

Ugh. It is too tiring.

Last week, I was so in the zone of the beach vibe that which enjoying my favourite avocado juice, I was offered a massage. At 20 000IDR, I would never complain. Why not.

During the massage, I ignored the uncomfortable feeling of her rough hands and her ring digging into my skin. I also turned a blind eye to the fact that this was not a massage, but more of an assault to the skin and muscle, should there be any left when she is finished. And, I thought of the cheap price we were paying when she battered my face, digging her thumbs into anything but my pressured points.

How shocked were we then to learn, that, at the end of all this, the damage to our purse was just as bad. The total for two people had been hiked up to 140 000IDR!!!! (for the record, my husband didn't feel so much grief during his massage time).

I think the moment we fell, was the moment we said that yes, we were on honeymoon. I imagine that some people have prejudices about those who come to the islands here to celebrate their nuptials, and presumptions of much money are no doubt presumed.

Even if you are, do not say you are on honeymoon. It could lead to financial grief.

Sadly, the anger kicked in slowly and we paid begrudgingly. By the time we got back to the villa, we were fuming and as a result decided to not go on a fishing boat with a guy who was offering us a great price in the same area of the beach.

Who knows whether he was genuine or not now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 9, 2011

KALAWEIT , Indonesia, 4th January 2011 - boat ride

I can't believe it is my last full day today.....

I woke in the night and heard lots of strange noises. I heard a gibbon shrill, so was convinced it was around 4am, but it wasn't. It was 2am. When I checked the time, I wondered if it was the escapee.

Then I could hear scratching; I thought it to be the rat, and then the gecko, the then beds creaked and the snoring.....Nevertheless, I still had to go for a pee!

When the gibbons did start their shrill, it was early and loud. There had been no rain, so the creatures started early with their song.

Tongki's last full feeding day today and I almost missed breakfast because I went back to sleep!  The little beggar bit my shoulder as I grabbed his big poo. Cheeky blighter.

I went off with the guys for the morning feed. I was even more surprised to see that the levels of water were higher, even higher than yesterday. The island collects the water from the river easily, so the levels can get really high, even without rain. It was good to feed the gibbons, I might not be able to do it tomorrow if there is more water.

1015 - WOW.
Adam and I have just returned from an amazing, ultimate boat journey. Coleman and one of the other Kalaweit staff took us out on their own boats. What an experience. These boats are so solid, but so low to the water that when you wobble you really do think you are going in.

We went through the jungle and the scenery was simply astounding.

Going through the beautiful forest
Where are the trees?

Heading home

The colours were amazing. The greens, light and dark. There were trees on one side, then a vast opening on another. There had been a fire a few years back.

We parked up by a watch tower and sat at the top of the tower in pure silence for half an hour or so. We sat in pure silence and it was pure bliss.

Me with the gang
The Kalaweit team

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

KALAWEIT , Indonesia, 3rd January 2011

I cannot believe I only have two days left. I would love to be able to stay time.

I have to add also, that, after four nights of interrupted sleep, I finally slept like a baby! I woke at 4am to the sound of the rain, which seemed to stop, just as day broke, perfect timing.

I didn't realise the extent of the rain until the 7am feeding. The puddles came up to my bottom!

Apparently, when the floods were here, the guys had to use their boats to feed the gibbons on the other side of camp.

So, we handed out the bananas, papayas and timun (courgettes) and returned to camp.

I had my brekky (yummy veggies, fish and rice) and then it was time to go again and give treats to the gibbons. Everyday is something different. Today was strawberry milk (susu). Other days have been vitamins, chicken, boiled eggs....these guys are well looked after!

But, when we got to cage 55, we had to pay good attention as they were aggressive gibbons. Nanto, the vet, suddenly let out a shriek, he had spotted that the gibbons in the next cage had escaped. How he spotted I don't know, but he has sharp eyes, and could even see at a distance.

As he turned around to tell us, the gibbon in cage 55 grabbed his t-shirt and pulled him back towards the cage with such a force, that even he was shocked and could barely pull away. It took him a minute or two to escape the gibbon's grip.

We needed a plan of action. Pauline and I were told to go to camp, Nanto led the way; it wasnt sade for us, perhaps as girls we weren't strong enough. The boys and him and to go hunt the escapee.

Pauline and I got to have a good girly chat while we did the laundry, but when the boys did return, there was a sombre air about them. They didn't catch the gibbon..he is still on the loose. They closed the escape route, and made an opening for him to return to.

Nanto didn't seem too concerned. That is why they are on a island, they can never go too far!! They hate water, so we can hope that the gibbon will go home when he is hungry.

8pm feeding time, Tongki was conked out. He was holding his towel, lying on his tummy. When I went in, he reached out his hand to hold mine as he carried on sleeping. he whimpered as I pulled away to get ready to feed him. His eyes were so sleepy. 

Oh boy, I am going to miss him when I leave.

He had three syringes of milk but only one banana.

Bed time now. big day tomorrow - My last full day!!!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

KALAWEIT , Indonesia, 2nd January 2011

Today should be the big trip into town. Adam and I are very excited because we can stock up on goodies, mostly food related!

But, it's also sad because Sophie and Jean-Pierre return to France tomorrow, so they must fly to Jakarta today.

We all packed into the boat, rucksacks and many people......................

                                    ..................................And what a great day it was!!!

First, we had to disembark half way. The journey was taking twice as long, given the weight in the boat. We reached a village on the riverside and then sent Sophie & Jean-Paul on their way so that they could make their plane. We were to wait for the truck to collect us.

Bon voyage!

 We walked around looking for the 'shop', where we found some tea. And then, as if like a wildfire, the word had spread amongst the residents and, suddenly, the whole neighbourhood was out to look at us and talk with us. There were so many kids and not one of them was shy, well not the boys anyway. Within seconds, they were throwing themselves into the water in a display of energy and vibrancy. Some of them even spoke English, counting to ten before the big plunge.

We took so many photographs together, the boys acting like superstars and the girls just staring. A stray cat without a tail went by, but I had some cat food already (for the cats at the harbour). And some chickens ran in the street.

And then the truck came for us. The road to Palankgya Raya was a rocky one. We crossed a number of rickety bridges. Even on the small roads, we still had to make space for scooters.

It might have been bumpy and Ayung was bouncing around on my lap, but it was still a wonderful chance to see the riverside villages.

Outside one house, a mother and her daughter were collecting rambutan from a tree outside.One old lady was walking down to the river with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth!

When we eventually hit the main road, the traffic was mad; scooters overloaded with families filled the streets and cars veered in and out again and again.

We went straight to the Kalaweit offices, checked emails, bought t-shirts and then we were lucky enough to pop over to the Kalaweit Radio station.

It was so great to see the inside of something so wonderful. Kalaweit Radio reaches out across Kalimantan to spread the music and to spread the word of the gibbon rescue. Thanks to the radio, so many people know who to call when they see an animal in distress and they can be rescued and cared for.

We hit the shops for a quick spree on cookies and chocolates.

We got a great lunch and then headed back home on the boat.

Back at camp, there was just time to feed the gibbons and then hit the sack, pooped!