I’m wildly late in posting this but I’m a teacher on her summer vacation so it’s now time to catch up. At the end of March I had a week off of school for exams (I had many weeks off – see this post for explanations) so I headed off to Bali, because… why not??
I really wanted to go scuba diving again (I hadn’t had an opportunity to since I got certified in Thailand in January) so I chose a random little island off the coast of Bali that I’d heard had incredible diving. And omg… when I washed up onto Nusa Lembongan as the sun was setting (literally, you have to go by boat) my jaw dropped.
I spent three days diving, exploring, and chilling in my hammock under my beachfront bungalow. It was pretty spectacular.
From Nusa Lembongan, I took the boat back to Bali where I met up with Carlie. She only had a three day weekend, whereas I had the whole week off, so she joined me for the long weekend and we headed up into the hills of Ubud.
Ubud is known as a yoga, hippy, art, culture hub of Bali. It’s beautiful and relaxing, set around lush rice terraces and packed with healthy Western food places. Needless to say, it was paradise.
After Bali, I went back to school for a few days before we had another long holiday and I traveled again! This time I stayed on my island and all my friends came to me! Well, kinda… When you think of Borneo/Kalimantan, you probably think of dense jungles and exotic creatures. And if you think of dense jungle and exotic creatures, you probably think of orangutans. Well, if this is what you are thinking, then you are thinking of Tanjung Puting National Park.
A group of ETAs had done this trip last year and highly recommended their guide, Erwin, so I contacted him and set up our excursion! (Highly recommend him!! Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re traveling in the area!) Six other ETAs (besides Carlie and I) flew into Pangkalan Bun while Carlie and I took a 10 hour bus from Palangka Raya to Pangkalan Bun (not fun but we survived). Once we had all arrived (after canceled flights and lots of chaos) we hopped on board our liveaboard boat and set off into the heart of the jungle!
For two nights and three days, we cruised deep into the heart of Borneo. We stopped at three different orangutan feeding camps and got to watch the orangutans swing down from their trees to come feast on the bananas and other fruit laid out for them. The orangutans here are part of a rehabilitation program – orangutans are an endangered species and many are captured by local people to be killed and eaten or harmed. Orangutan Foundation International works out of Camp Leakey, literally in the heart of the national park, where they rehabilitate ex-captive orangutans and work to protect the forest, conduct research, etc, etc. Because they are introducing more orangutans into the forest, the rangers provide extra food for the orangutans so that they don’t fight and kill each other over what food there is. And this is what visitors can see. The rangers make loud orangutan-type noises which calls the orangutans and they come swinging out of the trees, or lumbering down the paths, to the platform. Humans are no bother to them – they’ll come straight down the path into the cluster of humans, while the humans jump out of their way. It’s funny but also terrifying to be that human.
Our boat crew prepared delicious meals and snacks all day long, which they served to us on board our boat. At night, they laid out mattresses and hung up mosquito nets and we all slept on the deck of the boat, listening to the sounds of the jungle. After three days, we were sad to be going home and leaving our wonderful river retreat! Carlie and I boarded our 10 hours bus while the others flew back to their sites and we were all home for a few days before flying back to Jakarta for the National WORDS Competition. It was a busy few weeks!