Monday, May 3, 2010

On to the Rainforest

One more picture to share from the river trekking. We came upon some silver macaques one day, and they had this adorable baby that couldn't have been more than a few days old. He looked right at me and seemed so human. I love this picture and I fell in love with this little one and wanted to pop him in my pocket and take him home.

After three days on the river, we left by van and drove over five hours into the heart of the virgin rainforest. Borneo has lost so much of its rainforests through logging and through clear-cutting for palm oil plantations, but there are several places that are protected. One of them is Danum Valley, and this is where we headed.

We stayed at a place called the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, a wonderful and luxurious resort smack dab in the middle of things. (Still no air conditioning, but the forest was cooler at night than I thought it would be, and there were fans everywhere. Still, during the day, we did little besides sweat.)

Every day (and most nights) we took hikes into the forest, wearing our full gear. Here are Amy and me in our gear, crossing one of the bridges. Notice those always-fashionable leech socks on our lower legs.

We saw amazing animals--more monkeys, orangutans, civets, a leopard cat (a bit bigger than a house cat and looking just like a leopard), flying squirrels and flying lemurs, weird insects!

The highlight was always finding an orangutan, and one morning we got more than our money's worth. Amy and I were rinsing out sweaty gear in our bungalow when Amy saw something move in the fig tree off the balcony. It was a large male that the locals call King--because he is the alpha male in the area, not because he looks like Elvis. He was calmly eating figs just five feet off the ground.

We called our friends from the other bungalows and we started watching and taking pictures. Eventually he even dropped down to the ground and looked right at me.We continued to watch, and I guess he enjoyed being the center of attention. He decided to move a bit closer--too close. He walked under our bungalow and came right at me and two of the Baltimore women. The workers who were doing landscape work started yelling "Go! Go!" So, still filming (of course), I backed away while he came right up on the boardwalk and posed. It was amazing to be so close to such a massive and rare creature. If I wasn't afraid of being ripped apart by his extremely strong arms, I would have gotten closer.

Today Jodi and I flew to Kuching (which means "cat") where we've rented a nice apartment in the central part of town which we'll use as our base. Jodi has lots of friends here because she comes here twice a year for 6 weeks each. Tomorrow morning we go to another orangutan sanctuary, so if you like these apes, you're sure to hear more about them in my next blog.

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