Out of the hotel early and straight onto the bus!
The hotel (Wisma Leuser Sibayak) started were the bridge stopped (there are loads of different places to stay within the village and further upstream. Prices start from 50,000 and go up to 600,000) and I got the last free room…yippee!
Once the vocalisation of male teenage hormones had finished at around 2am I decided I would “try and get some sleep”, the mosquitoes had other ideas! Waking up bleary eyed before 7am my urge for the sweet nectar of caffeine laced black coffee was overwhelming, two glasses later I was feeling almost human.
The kids making the noise from last night were in fact English language students from Medan on a study tour. I got my own back later…
The village is located on a gentle curve of the river with all of the shops and most of the restaurants on the east bank. Crossing the bridge by my hotel I bimbled upstream checking out all of the small shops, restaurants and THE ROCK BAR!!!!
Now, let’s get back to those pesky kids…
I was chatting to Tony (owner of Tony’s pizzas) outside his shop, when some of the kids (well teenagers really but as I’m almost 40 I’m going to be calling anyone under the age of 21 a kid) came up to me. Each of them had a small booklet in their hands; the less shy one asked if I could sign their book. Turns out, in order to improve their English they had to go out and actually talk with the western tourists. Kids being kids they were just going up to people and saying “hello mister, please sign my book” and not much else. Me, being me, made each of them ask me three questions each and as I usually like to answer a question with a question they had to work hard to earn my signature. By the time I had finished Tony, along with a couple of other shopkeepers were struggling to stop laughing. With looks of relief on their faces I left the kids behind and carried on with my upstream bimble. Very quickly I had left the village behind and strung out along the path were small guest houses, each one more quiet than the last.
30 minutes and 27 students later I reached the end of the path. Workmen were busy repairing the way ahead and as it was hot I found a reason to turn around and retrace my steps.
50m downstream from my hotel is a weir, the main effect this has is to create a large swimming hole. With a lazy breast stroke I could hold my position in the beautifully cold waters. Of course I still had to dodge the out of control blown up inner tubes that everyone was riding down the shallow rapids.
Later during the middle of the afternoon the skies darkened, lightening flashed across the sky and the roar of thunder echoed through the trees. Then it rained…heavily! Within 20 minutes the once clear waters of the river had turned a muddy brown, the pace of the river had doubled and it had risen by a foot. Within an hour the river was unrecognisable to the one I saw in the morning and it had risen even further. After 2 hours the storm abated but the river kept surging well into the night.
In the evening before beers and pizza I went to the hotel front desk and got a mosquito net!
The morning looked promising so I picked up my bag and meandered down stream along the riverbank. A few hundred metres later I was in need of a path, I found one lying nearby
Just before the entrance I stood and watched but mostly listened to the small troop of monkeys marching across the tree canopy above me. When they had passed by I entered into the cave.
Note so self: it’s been over two years since you put fresh batteries into the torch. Next time don’t leave it so long
Ever since the early 70’s people have been coming to Bukit Lawang to visit the Orang-Utan rehabilitation centre located near the village within the 9000 square kilometre national park.
I was no exception!
After an anxious 20 minutes wait a solitary orang-utan turned up. Her name was Suma and she is 32 years old and 3 months pregnant. She slowly made her way across the platform, sat down and got comfy. Then she leaned down to take the cup of milk off the ranger. Bananas followed the milk, peeling back the skins on each one with her lips. Several quiet minutes went by as all the tourist just stared at Suma until the nearby call of a male got her excited and she went off in search of him.
The tracks through the jungle were steep and muddy. Walking along the ground I was still moving from tree to tree, using vines and roots whenever the going got almost vertical to maintain balance and a “not falling flat on arse” posture.
I do this; so you don’t have too….
…By the way you really don’t need to thank me