Bukit Lawang-Paradise on a stick.xx

Ubud Travel Blog

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I know this travel blog, I supposed to be about my travel tales, where to go, what to see, what I did, blah blah blah. But like life in general, life on the road can become complicated, painful, and plagued with hard decisions. So as this is my space, I will write, and if it's travel related well.BINGO!!

Ok..so since my last update things have been wonderfully, distressingly chaotic.

Welcome to Indonesia!! Selamat Datang

-Left Malaysia after deciding that the whole c.l incident had put a dampner on the place. Flew to a shit hole of a town in Indonesia called Medan to start a new experience.

-wow, what an experience, after being driven through the night in the pitch black darkness, up hill and down dale, with men taking strolls with only the lights of their mobile phone for company. Andy and I ponder two things..A. were the hell are we going b. why does where were heading to seam to have no electricity!

-Arrive in Bukit Lawang ( a place you only visit in your jungle book dreams), and the soft cons starts. Let me explain. Indonesia is not like thailand, where people are blatant about only wanting what ever currency you have recently changed at an inferior rate into Thai Baht. Indonesians, they will smile at you, ask you how you are, where you go, are you married, do you have children and the list goes on. By the time they have worn down your travellers guard, they will then offer you something. Not for sale, at first, but an experience you really must have, see etc. And when they see the first spark of interest in your eyes...then bam...they can start talking money. In Indonesia nothing, except maybe prayers to God are free. And even then street traders will try to lure you into their shops with promises of good luck coming your way? Really? I have good luck already..I'm holding onto the money in my pocket, barely>

-First we stay in the Eco lodge, which we inadvertedly committed ourselves to after trying to blag a blagger, the man who jumped into our taxi mid way, and started waffling in our ear all the different services he could offer us. "So where you stay" he asks.."with our friends" we reply, thinking were being smart. "Oh you stay fgshfdejf;sdjmf", what he says makes no sense to us, but we decide to go along with it. ..."yeah yeah" we reply, thinking we have gotten ourselves out of what ever tourist trap he and whomever he is in cohoots with at medan airport had planned for us. It turns out that "shsdjfdkg;dkfg" is eco-lodge, where we arrive past midnight, tired hungry, sweating and half way through one of the first world cup matches. Were trapped at this hour. Indonesia is football crazy. We cross a suspension bridge which rocks and sways under the weight of our bodies and ever growing bags, and arrive at this worn out, package tourist favourite, which we find out is right on the edge of town and just a little bit too far from everything. It's also bloody expensive for what it is, but not knowing any better we end up spending 3 nights there, eating oily scrambled eggs for breakfast and some strange orange juice. Indonesia will make you fat, everything is fried to death and then fried again. Wonderful

-We become acquainted with our soon -be-guide, who is the king of the soft con. Silo is his name, after 10 years spent in Switzerland and a disolved marriage, he is back in his home town of Bukit lawang, and at a extreme advantage to the other 139 guides working the well worn orang-utan trip route. He speaks excellent english and understands Europeans, well kind of.

- We agree to do a day trip into the jungle, after I put a swift stop to the soft con, and asked out right " how much". The price he said was never gonna happen, so we feined disinterest, and slowly but surely it came down, until it arrived at a place that was in our budget and worth his while

- we set of into Gunung lueser. Wow. Due to the humid conditions of sumatra and the regular raining jags, it's muddy. This is o.k on the way up, but not so ok on the way down. -Note to self- and all other jungle trekkers, if your going into the jungle, come better prepared than a pair of battered old trainers, or non grip vans which is what we had.

- 15 minutes in, and several monkey noises later, curtesy of our guide, we are told to be quite and follow him. He points up, tells us to to look for the brown in the tree...crained necks, cameras at the ready, we get a glimpse of our first oraguntan in the wild. Lawd jesus, what a sight. To be fair I think I spent too long trying to get the perfect picture which is pretty impossible when the great ape is high in the jungle canopy and surrounded by branches and foilage, rather than just beholding the awesome sight in front of me. The picture I have of andy is priceless, he looks likes he's seen a ghost

- we keep walking, by now it's becoming apparent just how badly out out shape I am. Sweating, huffing puffing, and trying not to slip down the muddy and worn dirt track we are following. Somehow I get the feeling, were not the first people to walk this route.

-There are so many amazing things to see, I keep stopping to take pictures of plants, ants, ( I have become obessessed with ants, there smart little things) amazing tree formations, huge geckos, and we get shown the scratch marks etched into many trees of honey bears--who I hope I do not see

- we are lucky to see at least 6 oragutans on our trek, apparently if your really unlucky, you don't see jackshit. And you cant exactley ask for your money back. Orangutan sitting in the jungle cannot be arranged via mobile phone! We also came face to face with Mina the legendary semi wild one, who expects fruit tax from all visitors to her home. The "no feeding the orangutan" signs does not apply to this jungle matriarch.

- Then come the downwards journey home. Think Indiana jones on Valium, I'm going that slow. It's steep inclines, where we have to grab onto strategic branches, and place our feet very precisly if we want to come out uninjured or alive. I'm shitting bricks, and shooting daggers at our guide who has taken us into the jungle without so much as a band aid, which I later find out when I hurt my foot, and ask for a bangage, at which time he proceeds to try and give me "healing hand jungle reflexology"!!! I just want to shove my swollen foot in his face, and get back to safety. I mean, really, this shit was scary. I know it was scary as I have no pictures, when I'm scared, image caputuring is the last thing on my mind.

-We stop by a grubby fresh water stream, but decide not to swim, over head the clouds are getting bigger and fuller, and when we ask our guide if we should expect rain, he shrugs, again, I want to kick him-hard.

- The rain starts to lash down, and we are still not in a safe place, my legs start to get weak with fear, everything is getting muddier and slippier by the second. I just want to scream, "I'm a celebrity get me out of here", so a brand spanking new helicopter can descend and I can be ferried to a pub with a steak dinner and bottle of red wine. Keep dreaming lady

- Out of know where another jungle man appears,carrying food in brown paper. Our lunch, and quite possibly one of the nicest nasi gorengs I'd eaten, even if consumed in the rain with a throbbing foot. .

-After more, strategic movements, we finally get to a river, when there are three tubes lashed together with extra bits of rubber. The only problem is I have over £600 worth of camera round my next, the rain is also lashing down, and the water proof bags, promised by our guide when we confirmed the trip, have failed to materialise. Luckily we had been one step ahead of 'slick silo', and put one of the waterproof wash bags we have in the day pack. Still With the size of the waves, I'm pretty sure our bag will get fully submerged. Lucky jungle boy, has massive plastic bags with him, into which all our stuff gets put, lashed together with further bits of rubber and strapped to our tubes- the vessel home. I still don't have faith that my new toy will emerge unharmed, but have little choice but to go with it. If the guide thinks he's getting a tip, he can kiss my ass.

- And wow, what a journey home it is. The waves are high, and without our front and back guides manouvering the dinggy around the jagged river rocks, and steering us away from the jungle walls, we surely would have been smashed to bits. We certainly got soaked. But one good things to come out of that was our mud caked shoes, came back clean. Thank you river, I thought they might have to get binned. The tubing is exhilarating, fun, scary, and I'm glad it ends (all going according to plan), home. I'm done with all the adventure and just want a cup of tea

- The way back down the river, begins part two of our stay in bukit lawang. We see the most amazing bungalows with hammocks and all sorts besides the river. I'm in love, its time to extend our stay and move house. We had down graded to a 50k a night room, and the old adage is true, "you get what you pay for". The toilet needed to be condemned. It's up early to bag a space at the hammocked paradise we have spotted down stream.

- We get to Sam bungalows, and bag us the newest one, which is like a suite and immaculate for a great price, after I practically pleaded with him for a discount. We got it, and he got our custom for four nights. Our bill was
ridiculous at the end.

- We plan to leave, but then Andy gets food poisoning at one of our favourite chills outs, where the food is shit, but the beer cold, and the company good. I travel 6 hours there and back into Bin Jai to the closest atm, as we are now broke. I get back, and he is in a really bad way, and looks like he's lost about 5 stone in a couple of hours. So we stay another two days. By the time were finally ready to leave, I also have a dicky belly

And life as I know it is about to change for the worst..I start falling down hill faster than if I'd lost my footing in the jungle. All I can see is shit and mud ahead. Now I'm covered in the stuff

New update and monkey pics coming shortly.xx

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photo by: eddie8498