Wednesday 10 October 2012

Welcome to the Jungle: Hanging out in North Sumatra

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Did you think I had up and abandoned you? I hope not! It's been my goal since starting this little blog to post once a week, at minimum, and well it's obviously been a bit longer than that. Sorry. Sort of. You see I've been off in Indonesia for the last week and I didn't quite get a post up before leaving. Forgive me? What if you look into that sweet Orangutan face? I thought so... keep reading because there is more where that came from!

Welcome to the Jungle! It’s an oft-heard quip by locals who are wittily channeling their inner Guns and Roses fan boys and girls. But welcomed to the jungle we were! With a week off of work for the National Day holiday, Other Half and I flew off to Sumatra in Indonesia to see what we could see.  We started our journey in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra and had planned on moving from there down to Berastagi to hike up a volcano. That didn’t quite come to pass however as we were quickly became charmed by the tiny village and the slow pace that we decided a few days of rest and relaxation among the sights and sounds of the jungle would do us just fine instead.

Bukit Lawang

Bukit Lawang is essentially a village that has prospered through tourism, with the main draw being the Gunung Leuser National Park Orangutan Sanctuary.  Coving approximately 950 thousand hectares, the National Park originally opened the Rehabilitation Centre in the early 1970’s to help orangutans that had been released from captivity, teaching them the necessary skills to survive in the wild along with protecting the orangutan population from hunting and deforestation.

Sumatra wasn’t originally on our (albeit rough and ever-changing) “to see” list when we arrived in China, but with a strong recommendation from a couple who went last year, and our original plans foiled by skyrocketed flight costs - it quickly leapt onto our radar and we found ourselves anticipating the trip more than either of us would have thought.

Bat Cave - Entrance and Interior

We spent the week exploring the jungle, visiting the rehabilitation centre, poking around bat caves (no Alfred’s or bat-mobiles in sight), and finding the lazier spots along the rushing Bohorok river to swim and lounge. We also happily indulged in fresh fruit juices and smoothies on a daily basis, ate enough Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) to last us a life time and discovered that our guest house had the greatest banana pancake/crepe concoctions this side of the Seine. 

Our humble abode for the week

But of course, it wasn’t without its adventures here and there.  There was no hot water, which after a two day trek (more on that in another post) means no mercy for getting the stink off and with no running water to the toilets there was a rather awkward moment when we had to discover what to do with our, um, waste.  Other Half also managed to snap a picture of a cheeky little monkey darting into our room and snatching my new sarong (you know, instead of stopping the monkey for instance – in his favour, he did rescue it from the roof later when the monkey dropped it after realizing it wasn’t food).

Making his way in to steal our stuff!
Long tailed macaque and Thomas Leaf Money

All in all a great week and whether it was because it was never on my radar, or the exotic sights, sounds and names of things around me, there were many points throughout the past week where I had to pinch myself to remember that I really was hanging out in the Sumatran jungle.  

Did you know that this is how pineapples grow? I did not. This fascinates me.


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