Welcome to the jungle baby!! Arriving in Bukit Lawang (Boo-keet Lu-wang) after a very long travel day, we were snagged up by a local guide who promptly guided us off the bus, to a a hotel room, and into a jungle trek package. We signed on to leave bright and early the next morning for a 6-hour trek followed by a night in the jungle, more trekking the next morning and culminating with a inner-tube ride down the river back to our hotel.
What I expected and what I got was quite a contrast. I expected that like trail horses, we would walk on well marked paths with obvious stops and marquis in front of trees and plants explaining what they were and how they are used. You know, more like a zoo. What I got was a hike with steep terrain, slippery treacherous turns and long sections that required much more climbing than walking. A wild place, navigated by a Salamat (our young, charismatic guide whose English was quite good though he kept apologizing about it).
We worked hard the first day (and goofed around a bunch too), trekking a long way up, up, up and all around and in the end were greatly rewarded. As it is not a zoo, the guides never guarantee what one will see but we felt quite lucky to see an abundance of primate life on our journey. We got a close look at Thomas Leaf Monkeys (that jump impressive spans from one tree to the next), white-handed Gibbons, Long-tailed Macaques and most impressive, a good look at the red-haired wonders, Orangutans.
We saw 2 Mom Orangutans with babies in tow and watched as they played amongst the trees. Mom would do something and baby would mimic hanging from branches in all sorts of acrobatic type combinations. Kind of like when Sasa and I used to pretend we were mannequins at the mall, but we were much more still. A pair got pretty close and sat and observed us for a while too. I wonder what wisdom Mom imparted on the baby about the creatures who dwell on the jungle floor and always seem to be pointing square-flashing objects up at them.
Arriving at camp, we were greeted by wonderful smells as the cooks made a meal with a few pans over a small fire that was good as any we have had yet in SE Asia. After the hike and with full-bellies, sleeping in the jungle under a long tarp on the hard ground was easy. I think the really bad mattresses over the last month probably help condition us for that moment as well. The sky was gorgeous, filled with stars and tons of twinkling lightning-bugs (fire-flies to West Coasters).
The next days hike was short but intense as we climbed straight up a mountain-side to a clearing that rewarded us with a great canopy view. As I was feeling ill, I couldn’t tell if the hike was hard or if it was just me, but Scotty assures me that it was indeed and ass-kicker. Salamat gave me some jungle medicine, leaves of some sort, that he assured would improve my ill-condition. I don’t know if the pain passed on it’s own or if his remedy had a hand, but by the time we made it down the mountain to the river, I felt a lot better and throughly enjoyed the refreshing last leg of the journey in the inner-tube. It was either that, or the really bad rendition of Hotel California that the 3 of us sang on the way down, trying desperately to remember all the lyrics. (Try it, it’s hard without the music to help!)
Back at the hotel we enjoyed dinner with our lovely Canadian neighbors and called it a night. Back to KL, the holding tank, until we reach our next destination–Sulawesi. It’s already been a month and I cannot believe how time flies. I do not yet miss home but I undoubtedly miss my loved ones- friends and family. Scotty and I are doing our best to take care of one another, keeping each other safe and happy. Hope you all are doing well!