Festivities, Leeches and Elephants

Bandar Lampung Travel Blog

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4 chosen expats being pulled on the cart together with the Lampung officials.
The day was supposed to start early, but again due to delays start time was moved from 730 to 9am.
The wait was not fun after just 6 hours sleep (for an 8 hour person), no hot water shower and gorengs (fried food) as the typical breakfast.
 
First stop was watching the Way Kambas Festival which included various dances from around the region. On the way we stopped at another local official's place that also had stage preparations on their lawn. Having no idea what it was we went about using the toilet, mingling with the locals, picture taking for the expats they favored and having a bit of coffee and breakfast again for those who wanted to indulge.

Four expats were chosen to ride on the elephant cart together with the officials and the rest had the option of either walking or taking the bus to the venue, with me choosing the former for exercise despite the mid morning heat and lack of a hat.
Elephants lining up to show off at the Way Kambas Festival


Everyone was confused on what to do and where to go at the venue, I ended up sitting with most of the group on seats reserved for us and initially had difficulty seeing the dances in full view. Before sitting down, saches were hung around our necks (I sadly had to ask for mine as they thought I was teasing to get one since I looked like the locals!!!, my first experience of discrimination on the trip). It was fortunate that the presentation had two hosts, one translating in English.

All I could remember was that most dances were to celebrate 'happiness', one was of warriors, one seemed a flirting dance between youngsters and another with Chinese dragon-like beasts.

Eventually I moved to sit on the grass or go about mingling,  and going to the toilet like the rest.
The others remained behavedly seated.

We were then asked to choose and board individually off road trucks, and as expected, the drivers chose all the foreign looking first and I patiently waited on whichever truck was left vacant, and I got the one that was most different, in red and had a right hand drive in a country that had all left hand steering wheels. The driver was also a bonus, sweetly offering me durian and water as we queued for our turn to parade in front of the crowd. Later on did I realize that he was being teased by everyone else after seeing me as the passenger because he was---single. Ay!

After parading in front of the crowd, we proceeded to the countryside and was left in the middle of nowhere to board our bus. Then the bus brought us to a restaurant for lunch.
Traditional dances from around the region
Everything seemed nonsensical and a waste of time at this point as we were all getting hungry and very confused.

Lunch again had the blaring dangdut music being karaoked by a lady who looked more like she was working in a bar with high heels, skimpy black dress and black stockings, in the middle of the day! Boy was she eyeing and ever friendly with the male expats.

We then split up into two groups, one doing the off roading and the bigger group doing the hike and boating. We started the hike with high spirits, prepared for leeches and bugs with bug spray, some spread the nicotine around their legs and changing into our hiking shoes. Most of us were not prepared though for the tons of leeches that would crawl into the niches of our shoes and feet.
I am not a fan of creepy crawlers and I was unfortunately cursing and panicking half the time like most of the women in the group. Fortunately my friend's bug spray kept away everything else. Thinking we were going to see age old trees, it turned out that only one tree was old and was the one sadly cut down, and the rest were second generation trees! None of us could focus on the beauty of the scenery anyway as we were all busy making sure that the leeches were off our feet.

The two kilometer hike ended up back where we started! something that infuriated the professional photographers who still lugged around their tripods and cameras without having seen anything worth shooting and most of us frustrated on the point of the exhausting walk.

A boating trip was up next in the Way Kanan river, which was ever so serene it made us all sleepy.
Our boatman paddled through for an hour and we all awaited some action by seeing crocodiles, only tons of monkeys about the trees satisfied our curiousity. The sunset on the boat though was very relieving and beautiful to watch as the fire like colors darted out of the treetops.

Our group arrived at the picnic area to wait for the barbeque dinner. As with all the high expectations on this trip, this meal was also not met. What they deemed as the barbeque dinner was a huge meal of a variety of vegetables in different dishes, and the only thing on stick was....the sate ayam! (grilled chicken pieces topped with peanut sauce) Then we waited for 2 hours snacking on fruits for the other group.

The off roading group arrived exhausted as well and filthy looking, they also took time because of the travel to and fro the off roading site.
And as per their story, the drivers had a professional competition and were just letting the expats ride with them to show off to the crowd, hence the group had to wait and take turns to ride with the different drivers, one was even left in the middle of the road for two hours, poor guy.

At this point, most of the expats were grumbling at the poor organization and planning of the events since a lot of time had been wasted on waiting since the start of the trip. Several were already wanting to head to the hotel and get some rest. I was glad though that the organizers stubbornly had us take the last activity for the day, a night safari.

This entailed riding individually (for most of us) on elephants with our respective guides. Boy did this scare me.
I'd never done it in my life! and the seats were just thin cushions making the whole ordeal uncomfortable as I felt like I was just sitting on a walking bone the entire time!
Most of us had aching butts after that and the trick was to sit in the middle of the elephant's back to have a flatter spot but that meant I would lose contact of my guide whose shoulders I held on for dear life, I chose safety over comfort. 20 elephants went through the pitch dark sanctuary for an hour, from 11pm-12 midnight with nothing to light the path but individual flashlights that the guides darted left and right as they showed us deers in the dark and looked out for other wild animals whatever they may be. It was exhilarating to see a flood of stars and the moon in the night sky, something which you will never experience in Jakarta.
Despite our fatigue though no one dared to fall asleep for fear of falling over four meters down from the top of the elephants.

My elephant, Rendy was one of the  youngest at 17 years old, the oldest being 25. Was I glad to speak and understand Bahasa a little bit better at this point. The journey was through hectares of grass land and through rice fields. Those were the scariest, as the elephants would bend to go down and heave to go up, were you'd feel you'll eventually fall over. My guide was nice enough to hold on to my legs (no malice intended) to make sure I didn't end up below. Funny enough Rendy had stomach trouble and was farting most of the time to the dismay of my friend on the elephant at the back. We also went through the sanctuary which had 62 elephants both young (5 months as the youngest) and old.
I didn't like the fact that they were all chained to posts, that we disturbed several of them in sleep, and that the guides were poking some of the mothers to show the younglings to us, or that they used mini ice picks on the head of our elephants to steer them in the right direction, it was just too much cruelty.

This was for most of us, the highlight of the trip.

All collapsed tiredly at the hotel after an hour more of driving out of the national park.
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4 chosen expats being pulled on th…
4 chosen expats being pulled on t…
Elephants lining up to show off at…
Elephants lining up to show off a…
Traditional dances from around the…
Traditional dances from around th…
With other seeming Aborigine playe…
With other seeming Aborigine play…
Getting narcissistic as we get bor…
Getting narcissistic as we get bo…
Queueing in our individual off roa…
Queueing in our individual off ro…
Parading through the countryside
Parading through the countryside
Our afternoon boat ride through Wa…
Our afternoon boat ride through W…
Waiting for the crocodiles to appe…
Waiting for the crocodiles to app…
Still waiting....
Still waiting....
Nothing at all!
Nothing at all!
The rest of the survivor contestan…
The rest of the survivor contesta…
One of the several monkeys we saw …
One of the several monkeys we saw…
The firelike sunset through the tr…
The firelike sunset through the t…
The boatman rests from paddling as…
The boatman rests from paddling a…
4,123 km (2,562 miles) traveled
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photo by: iramalama