Written July 5th
It’s right before dinner time after my first full day in Tuanan. The jungle is such a cool environment, in the fascinating sense, not the temperature sense, because it is super humid here. The camp’s conditions are surprisingly comfortable and should be easily bearable for the next week. My pseudo bed/toilet/shower is better than nothing! We feast for every meal on local food made by the camp’s cooks, who are women from the local village Pasir Putih. And the cold bucket showers are refreshing after a long, sweaty day. (It is entertaining to reread my blog entries as I type them up back in the States because I can vividly remember wanting to do anything else almost every time I had to dump cold water over my head).
We explored the jungle today. reporting the orangutan nests we found. Pak Odom, our guide, is a veteran of Tuanan and we were lucky to be in his group. His eyes never missed a thing and we got to see many nests and he taught us about many of the fruits the orangutans fed on. I also got to see my first orangutans today, Ketambe and his mother Kerry. Ketambe is a five year old and is still not used to humans being around, so he spent most of his time breaking branches and throwing them at us. It was fun to play with Ketambe, but the experience of getting to see such an exotic and endangered animal is not lost on me and will be a memory I will not soon forget.
Picture credit to Andrea Pfaff for the great photo of Ketambe!
To get to Tuanan, we had a two hour boat ride up the Kapuas River, which besides being a fun experience in itself, was also a great bonding moment with my soon to be great friends. (The first time I wrote this I used the word peers, but I think they’ve earned a nicer description after the three weeks we’ve spent together).
Indonesia, as a nation, is certainly poorer than the US. Many of the roads and building are in worse shape, but there are some areas that are still quite developed. Many of the hotels were very built up and were equivalent to US standards. I think many Americans would be plenty surprised at the luxury they could find in Indonesia. This luxury is not for the average Indonesian, but for Americans, our money translates well. (Throughout the trip, I routinely purchased meals for $5-$7 that would have been $30 in the US).
I am glad I do not have to drive in Indonesia, because I am not sure there are actually any rules to the road. Motor bikes and cars swerve around each other, drive on the shoulder, and get inches from each other. It is interesting interacting with strangers here because I am something of a celebrity. Indonesians do not often see white people, and I have already taken photos with a few families who asked me to pose with them. All in all, a god start to the trip and I look forward to experiencing the rest.