Read alll about my wacky adventures across the sea and in the Jungle.
So I am at the Danu Girang Field Centre in Borneo. You could look it up on a map, but you wouldn’t find it. Just checkout the giant forest there on google maps, I’m in there.
Internet access is limited, and I am really shocked we have been able to use it. It has humid and extremely warm, and I mean warm. Generally within several minutes of work I am sweaty. We have been extremely busy. I wake up around 5 am or sometimes 6 and typically retire around 10, sometimes earlier. There is no air conditioning at all, and the power goes out around 11 P.M. This means no fans, so ideally you should try to fall asleep before 11. Once you get used to the heat it is actually not that noticeable unless you’re busy doing something and you’re gonna sweat buckets.
Last night I heard of an Orang in the area so I went to survey the trees. Low and behold I found some possibilities for where it might have built its nest. This morning I was outside by 5:30 looking for its nest. The best way to find them is to locate where they sleep at night and then arrive early to track them. After waiting for a while and me walking in the general area. LOW AND BEHOLD THERE WAS AN ORANGUTAN!! I had some others who joined me along the way and I began jumping up and down. I ended up taking a lot of pictures, but I was so excited and focusing on what she was doing I didn’t focus my camera that well. She is a very young girl (subadult). I followed her all morning recording geeky primatology notes. It is now evening, hopefully I can find her again in the morning. Later this week we are going to another site in Sukau and doctoral students are doing research so I will join them and help. I talked to a girl that is here and she told me a big researcher is actually looking for new students…hmm. Tomorrow is another busy busy day!
So Yesterday was my first full day here. I awoke a 6 am and it was almost completely sunny. AND THE ROOSTER WAS STILL ROOSTERING AFTER DOING IT ALL DAY. I have realized that its about 12 hours of light here starting at 6 AM and ending very quickly around 6PM. My actual class starts Sunday morning. I went to the other hotel yesterday that our group was at. It was my hope that someone would be here from the class. After arriving to the hotel I realized that nobody in fact was here. After being here for an hour though I found three other people! Later that day two other people arrived and we talked for a while, then I napped for a short time. The time difference is about 12 hours from the east coast. Later around 4 I decided to try to get some pictures of our B&B with my camera. Not the best decision. I forgot my bug spray, oops. So I now have about 30 mosquito bites on my legs and arms. Thankfully someone else had bug spray. I didn’t bring any snacks from home because I did not want to deal with holdups at customs, so I wanted to look for a place with snacks. I heard there was a little shop at the end of the road. What a little shop it was, and boy was it hot inside. I initially thought the shop was further and this place was some sort of auto parts store. A mother and her child worked there and they spoke not even a tiny bit of english. I expected this of course, but it still really is shocking to stand there and not know what to say. I have a translator app on my phone, but it requires the internet. I wanted granola bars or something with protein, but they had none. They did have all kinds of chips, but most of them had crab in them. I found biscuits(cookies) they are actually vegan and possibly the best chocolate cookies I have ever had. I grabbed some other stuff and my total was only 8RN which is about $3. I let her keep the change from my 10, I think she was very confused. I did realize that all the food has palm oil in it, many times as the second ingredient. Kraft is very big and has many local brands. It is sickening to me that these corporate industries invade the country and then set up such a system of dependency through product availability and economic expansion. Last night it thunder-stormed, which was really nice. It cooled down the 95 degree weather, with 100% Humidity. After everything the heat index is about 105 degrees. Only bad thing is so far is the B&B doesn’t have cold water, or ice :[. So there isn’t much relief. Being as this is my first time out of America, I am trying my best to not be whiny. Although I do find myself just wanting air conditioning, or to swim, or relief of my first world problems. I think once the class really gets started it will be a lesson in modesty and real world living. There is a fan in our room and at night it was glorious. Actually early morning, around 4-8 is really nice. There is a cool breeze currently at 9 and it is still good in the shade. We are going to the proboscis monkey center, so I am excited to see them! I will have my real camera so I can take some good pictures for the first time.
I didn’t say it yesterday, but I might explain briefly my flight into Sandankan. It was a nice flight, but you would imagine flying onto the worlds 3rd largest island you would find tropical jungles and see a vast series of trees. No. Not at all. As far as the eye could see was palm oil trees. If it wasn’t palm oil trees it was land that was barren. Places, from the sky that looked as large as Cincinnati. Roads cut through any remaining jungle I could spot. It wasn’t until I landed that I spotted some areas of trees, which is because the Kinabatangan river is a small protected area. The ravaging from corporate industries here has really taken an unimaginable toll on the land. I almost began to cry (laugh if you must), as I considered that just in 10 years 1992-2002 this jungle here in Sabah (A third of the island) has been reduced by 80%. I don’t know how much has been lost since. Imagine if someone left you only 20% of your home? What would you be left with, your bed and maybe half of your bathroom? This doesn’t just affect the animals it affects the people. As we drove down to my hotel the roads were lined with dilapidated old buildings, the only nice ones were palm oil companies. Large oil trucks filled with palm oil lined many driveways, waiting like reapers to collect from innocents.
So. Wow. Day one.
I arrived here three days early and intended on trying to go diving. So far it has not panned out well. So help me, I will take my luggage into the ocean, use it as weights and dive. I will dive. I booked a room at a hotel close to the one for the course. Its the run of the mill place. Not your American hotel, but a nice place. Its called the Sepilok Jungle Resort.
I walked into the front office and was immediately informed I had to go to the other office, just around back. No problem. Except for there is this kind of manmade, or real who knows, lake. So I have to walk on wood bridges, which is quite authentic I must say. Up steps, down steps. With two bags and a book bag. Mind you I have not slept really since Saturday night. I napped a little on my plane rides, and the two days before I left I only slept about 1 and a half hours. I got checked in and showered for the first timesince Monday night. My bathroom, is kind of confusing as you can see and I couldn’t figure out how to turn the hot water on. Oh well, since its 90 degrees and humid anyway who cares! After my showered I rested a wee bit.
Here comes the fun part. After me not falling asleep I decided I wanted to know if any other class mates showed up yet. I knew at least one was arriving today so I decided to go to the other hotel down the way that our course starts at. I looked on the map and it wasn’t far at all. So I began walking. Upon leaving at around 6 I realized it had began to get dark, since it wasn’t far and it wouldn’t be dark for a while I didn’t worry. Well. 25 minutes passed and I had finally arrived. It was getting darker than I thought it could. After talking to the receptionist, nobody had came. Of course. As I began to walk back I spied the tiniest cat. Now I had seen earlier there were SO MANY cats and dogs running around. However, this was a tiny cat, and he was meowing at me.
Well I picked him up thinking it was a girl in heat, nope just a boy who was hungry and had his tail broken once before. I carried him for a while and he got squirmy so I put him down. I wanted to take him back but I have to walk through a restaurant to get to my room. I had some snacks and I thought he would eat them. Well with no other options I did the only thing I could think of. I looked for a tree with fruit, this is Borneo right? So I saw what might have been a banana tree, or a baby banana tree. After several awkward attempts I climbed it grabbed some and gave them to him. There was still some lights from the street so I didn’t worry. I turned the corner, and SHAZAM. Pitch. Dark. Jungle on each side of the road and what seemed to be a never ending tunnel of cosmic darkness. Well, I forgot my maglight in Ohio. My phone, that had 10% battery life left and no service would have to suffice.
I began to walk. After I heard noises that I don’t even know existed. Cicada’s that sounded like they were inside my skull and odd howling. I began to run. Mind you I am in flip flops its still 90 degrees and humid. As I ran I realized this is every silent hill game ever. I could see nothing. I had a crappy flashlight and all I could see was moths in it and I was unarmed. After running, stopping, falling and running I reached my hotel. I was greeted with a gate that was not there before. After skirting around the gate I ran into the side of a building I had not noticed on my way out. There was a gate in the entrance to it and inside was a big red generator making awkward noises. Also relevant since in Silent Hill 2. The almost exact thing exists, except a weapon is in the gate. So I ran through the walkways, almost ran into a guy giving a toast in the restaurant, literally and back to my hotel room covered in sweat dripping from my face like a faucet. Oh did I mention my hotel key was a skeleton key? Had I been chased I would have died.
So that was day one. I forgot to eat so I went to the restaurant. I had some fresh fruit. I also ordered fries, but they never came. The prices are weird. Its 9 ringgets for fries, but 10 if you want a cheeseburger and fries. By cheeseburger, they mean a grilled chicken patty with ketchup. Not quite sure about that one.
So day two is tomorrow, I have no idea what I am doing. All the touristy things around here are either two person required or they charge you 50%. We shall see!
Japan! Unfortunately my trip here was short lived. However in line waiting this adorable 30 person tour group of senior citizens were there. These two ladies told me I should get my passport out and made funny motions to their backs. They didn’t think I knew what they said, but I did and said thanks and then they laughed together after I got it out I didn’t zip up my book bag, so they helped me. Then we talked about me being a student on a school trip until I could not to explain why exactly I was going to Malaysia.(they didn’t speak english) Hahaha oh well.
So I am flying on the way to Seattle. I actually have just about arrived. I slept a tiny bit, but my chair doesn’t move and the window is a tad awkward. Too bad I couldn’t stay in Seattle longer and visit my Aunt and Uncle! Also the guy next to me is playing some game on his iPad and keeps getting mad and jumping around in his seat. Our inflight movie was The Tooth Fairy, what a riveting feature film. So so far I have left on a 4 hour flight and got here an hour and a half later. The time changes begin.