I have been lugging how much around in these backpacks, miss a zero and you're screwed and did you know it rains quite a bit in the rainforest?
16.04.2012 - 18.04.2012 26 °C
Day 200: Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia 16/04/2012
Up nice and early and a quick breakfast at the Chinese cafe sees me go healthy with the muesli and toast option. Bagel for Gem. How civilised. Get a nice early sweat on walking with the bags to the bus station. Check in at the airport easy enough, but surprise surprise the bags are too heavy at 43kg. A nice extra charge to set Indonesia rolling...Easy flight and land in Indonesia for around midday.
Get some cash out (more on this later) and treat ourselves to that most traditional and archetypal Indonesian dinner, the humble KFC. We then manage to catch the correct minibus for the bus terminal and on our way to the rainforest we calculate that I have indeed taken out about thirty quid, not the intended wedge I thought I had on me. Turns out I missed a zero off the 'amount required' at the ATM (there are over 14,000 Rupiah to the pound). Bus stops for a while in a small town and I run to try to get cash from the cashpoint. It seems that no cashpoints in the area accept either Visa or Mastercard and the joy of a three mile jog in the tropical rain leaves me feeling a little damp in both spirit and body. Oh well, a nice clammy journey to the rainforest awaits.
We arrive in Bukit Lawang for around 6pm and also the start of the most incredibly vicious and torrential tropical thunderstorm I have ever witnessed. 'Welcome to the jungle' we are told as we climb into what can only be described as a pram attached to a moped with a small plastic sheet over for rainproofing with all our stuff, which then proceeds to break down after two minutes. It turns out that incredibly the driver forgot that he needed to put petrol in it to keep it running. We arrive in the village after dark, soaked but feeling flush with well over twenty pounds sterling worth of Indonesian Rupiah in my pocket to last the next few days. Needless to say there is no ATM helpfully sunk into the trunk of a massive tree. We eventually flop into a nice three pound room for the night attempt to dry out and congratulate ourselves on a successful few hours in Indonesia.
Day 201: Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia 17/04/2012
Despite the jungle party happening outside our door we sleep pretty well and wake up to a good breakfast. We look for an internet cafe (a surprisingly good choice of them given the surroundings) and sort out a ticket into the National Park to see the orangutans. Also manage to change our remaining Malaysian currency so at least we now have [i]some[i] cash.
After watching the entertaining monkeys (they never get boring) in the trees we head back for our raincoats (more clouds a-brewing) and try to find the orangutan area. Eventually find the canoe needed to cross the river and after some uncertainty as to whether the feeding would go ahead due to the impending weather we find ourselves climbing the slick, steep sides of the heavily forested mountain and before long we find ourselves face to face with a mother orangutan with her baby. Such huge, magnificent, graceful creatures and though the park rangers understandably want the animals to keep a safe distance from us, we end up very close to them. Before long a huge male orangutan arrives on the scene hungry for bananas and posing for our photos like an experienced supermodel. He is absolutely massive, weighs one and a half me's and has a very shaggy auburn coat, with the face of an old man.
One of the orangutans is not satisfied with the rations given by the rangers and takes it upon herself to grab a ranger's rucksack (full of fruit of course) and scurry up the nearest tree into the canopy with it, surely never to be seen again! All in all an amazing, unforgettable experience in the jungle and at about three/four pounds for the experience a bargain to boot! Upon crossing the river back and taking off our muddy footwear I discover I have been bitten by a leech and bled everywhere. Eat well and sleep dreaming of Harry and the Hendersons for some reason...