Monday, October 29, 2012
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The most intimidating obstructions are the sunken boats and platforms that have collapsed. There are so many! All that remains (if we are lucky) is a stick poking up here or there a few feet out of the water. We are advancing extra cautiously, watching for underwater booby traps that will surely sink us if we hit one. When the sun is out this is not such an issue, but there are lots of intermittent thunderclouds overhead that feed our apprehensions. I spend a lot of time standing out front atop the bow rails, spotting for obstacles lurking just below the surface.
|Crossing the Equator in Indonesia|
October 11 - 19, 2012 – Another Equipment Breakdown, More Obstacles & Hops, and Ketawai Island, a Little Paradise
I neglected to mention that during our stay at Nangka, last Friday while the storm was kicking up, Frank went out to deploy additional anchor rode but the windlass wouldn't operate. Frank seemed to think it had tripped off. He checked the power box only to find that the breaker had not tripped so something must have shorted out in the mechanism. He fiddled around with it for a long, long time before declaring that we can raise the anchor with the windlass (thank God!), but will have to let chain out manually, something in the motor has broken and we cannot repair it without a new part, which we do not happen to have on hand. So though I normally handle the anchoring, he will be dropping the hook from now on until we get our windlass back to 100%. It's too much to go into why.
Leaving Belitung at 6:30 AM, we sailed over to a small yet lovely island called Gelasa arriving at 2:30, where rested for the night before moving on again at first light. After departure from there we enjoyed a decent day of motor sailing for about 20 miles when suddenly we began to notice large bamboo stilt structures scattered along the water in front of and all around us. Depths shallowed to between 20 & 50 feet. As we neared the first group of the structures we saw that there were actually hundreds and hundreds of them clustered all about as far as the eye could see. My gosh we wouldn't want to cruise through here at night! It is a veritable obstacle course requiring us to be on full alert. The structures were about 30x30 square, made from bamboo and resembling a scaffold supporting a small building in the middle of a platform with what appeared to be a large net underneath. Some were occupied and some not. We of course snapped photos of a couple of the nearer ones. This obstacle course continued for the rest of our trip to Ketawai, and in fact they surrounded the little island. We later confirmed that they are fishing platforms.
The rally booklet makes a very slight mention that this island is uninhabited but a temporary clearance office and other facilities will be set up for checking out of Indonesia here. Actually, as has been par for the course the WRONG location name and dates are written in our route book. We arrived at mid afternoon into one of the prettiest bays we've visited since leaving North Queensland, Australia. It is a lovely sand & tree covered island interspersed with tents and a few pavilion type structures amid the coconut palms. We noticed a brand new wharf. The island was literally pristine. I told Frank it looked like a set right out of "Robinson Crusoe".
We jumped into the dinghy for a visit to shore and were met on the beach by an adorable young man who seemed overjoyed to see us. He led us through a pretty coconut grove to a makeshift table where he quickly offered us young coconuts to drink. Then he led us over to where his boss, Ryan was working with several other men to clear a rounded sandy area for what appeared to be a cricket pitch. The men all stopped working and excitedly approached us, shaking our hands and taking photos. Ryan explained to us that they were busily preparing for the rally boats and seemed distressed that he had nothing to offer us other than the coconuts. We explained to him that it was us who should apologize for arriving too early. He and his happy band of workers took us for a tour pointing out the various structures they were building just for the rally participants. They had big plans for us all and as we walked with them we felt a terrible feeling of disappointment that they were going to all this hard work and effort for the rally, not knowing how screwed up the organizers had left things. We absolutely hope and pray that there will be some yachts left to enjoy all that they have planned here – including free diesel, fresh water, shows, games, markets and exhibitions and yacht clearances out of Indonesia. The list goes on and on because this is to be the official last stop.
We were invited into the home of the security chief and his wife who are the only residents of the island for a drink and some biscuits (cookies). Hans and Ute came along as we were leaving the little house. Of course we did not have our cameras to get any pictures, doggone it. We waited outside for Ute and Hans and then we continued our little tour. We decided to walk the beach around the island to stretch our legs and did so with a small entourage of young men. When they noticed Ute and I taking an interest in shells, they went to work looking for the best shells. They were so cute! At the end of our walk, they presented us an armload of spider conchs, sand dollars, and little cowries. Before returning to the dinghies they gave us bags full of coconuts, apologizing that they could not offer more to us. We were overwhelmed by their kindness and hospitality and felt badly that we had nothing to offer them in return – there were so many of them.
We really needed to leave the next day but looked at our schedule and decided to stay to dive a nearby wreck in the adjacent bay and to meet the big boss whom Ryan said would be arriving. Unfortunately, we got stuck on the boat all day searching for a leak that was causing oil to seep into the bilge. We emptied lockers and searched and searched for something that may have busted, such as cooking oil. We found nothing. I then asked Frank if it was possible we had some kind of motor or pump that could be leaking because the strange oily substance was clear but emulsifying to white as it cooled. By now, the heat was sweltering and we were sweating miserably crawling around down here. Finally Frank announced that he'd located the culprit. Our water maker pump was the source. He went into trouble shooting mode only to announce that our 4-yearl old water maker is truly and finally shot. This threw me into a real funk. We are hot and miserable and it seems things are breaking down on this boat like a house of cards falling in around us. Our macerator pump is also on it's last legs and it would be a serious problem if THAT goes out. We have no other means to expel waste from the holding tank without it and this boat does not have a direct overboard dump option. Please, Lord, let Destiny stay intact long enough to get us through this season before too much more breaks down.
Late in the afternoon the guys on shore were waving to us to come back in. We were exhausted and just couldn't bring ourselves to get up and go. I didn't even go for a swim today. Finally we saw a group of them pile into a speedboat that was tied to the wharf. They zipped over toward us. I ducked into our cabin to throw on some decent clothes and before I knew it there were men on board looking down into the boat through the port lights and overhead hatches. Freaked me out just a tad. When I popped upstairs, Frank was visiting with a gentleman named Dali who is the "big boss" while the others were still walking around deck taking photos. They were thrilled to be on board. Dali had been schooled in Cleveland, Ohio for several years, married an Ohio woman and then returned here with a marketing degree His objective is to promote tourism and to build resorts. This is one of 4 islands he and his group of companies own that they are working to convert to resort destinations. He has a brilliant mind and holds high hopes of making some positive changes here in Indonesia. Before he left we made a promise to him that if we cruise back to Indonesia again we would definitely be in touch with him.
Having less than half a tank of water aboard I told Frank we will be doing minimal bathing, cooking and food prep in order not to dirty a lot of dishes that will need to be washed. Ute and Hans of course have offered to supply us water to get us through the next 5 days, but we need to conserve nonetheless, so I offered to make "bull's-eyes" for dinner instead of a nice big meal. I had tested all of our eggs and had no floaters so I assumed they were all good. As the bread was toasting in the skillet, I cracked open the first egg and nearly gagged as green slime oozed out of the shell. Bleh! What a horrible smell! Thank goodness, I had first cracked it into a separate bowl. I handed that to Frank to toss overboard. Three more went this way while I'm nearly burning the bread. The fifth had an embryo in it. I nearly lost it then. I finally got four decent eggs out of the dozen but not before tossing two more rotten ones. When we finally sat down to eat I didn't have much of an appetite. We played a game of Baja Rummy – Frank finally won two in a row! – before heading to bed.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Traveling the coastline of Belitung is a lovely way to pass the time, however. It is a beautiful island, and as we neared our destination of Tanjung Kelayang at the northwest corner, the coastline resembled overbuilt cities yet closer inspection revealed incredible rock structures so beautifully formed that they hardly seem natural. The shoreline is stacked with them and at a few places it resembled a much smaller version of Australia's Cape Melville. Stunning, really. On approach into Kelayang we dodged several boulders that were perched smack out in the bay amid crystal clear sparkling blue waters. It was like a movie set. We felt the tinge of another "if only we had known…we could have spent more time here" moment. Why on Earth is Indonesia so darn stingy with their cruising permits and visitor visas? There is so much beauty to enjoy here and yet we find ourselves just skimming the surface on our way through. What a pity. We set the hook at 4 PM in time to get a call from Imagine telling us tonight the locals are hosting a dinner and live music on shore for the rally yachts. Of course we could not miss that.
Monday we joined Hans and Ute for a walk along the beach out to the boulders on the point. This place reminded us so much of The Baths of Virgin Gorda, BVI. We were enjoying the lovely day when black storm clouds suddenly rolled in issuing forth a downpour. We happily settled into a small beachside café for respite where we passed the time eating calamari and cap cay - delicious and very inexpensive. The storm really pounded down overhead for a while forcing us to sit, relax and enjoy the cool fresh air for a couple of hours while the boys enjoyed a few more beers. After the rains passed we tried to walk the beach a bit further but then along came another nasty one barreling down on us so we fled to the dinghy and set off for home. We got word there was another dinner that night with more entertainment so at 5:30 we took ourselves back into shore while miraculously the rain abated for several hours. Dinner that night was even better than the previous. The food is just so good and fresh here. We stayed a little later than usual because the Scallys and Avant Garde had arrived and when they are around a good time is guaranteed.
Tuesday, the four of us set off on mopeds to explore the island. On my own I am a pathetic excuse for a moped rider, having survived two previous crashes as a passenger I have tremendous anxiety about these things. Anyway, I reluctantly mounted mine and took off following Hans and Ute telling myself I really need to get over this. Frank stayed behind me in case he had to scrape any of my body parts off the pavement. I was fine until we had to turn then it was beyond pitiful. They easily glided and I staggered along, eventually loosening up enough to smile from time to time. Geez I hate being a wuss! We rode along the scenic coastline, noting the majestic boulders scattered along the beach and out in the water, eventually we hit a major road where traffic picked up considerably. After over an hour of riding we came to a bustling city and yet strangely we could find no place to stop for refreshment and a rest. My hands and rear end had gone completely numb from the bike's vibrations by now, and as I looked over toward Frank I noticed his same discomfort. Frank shouted to Hans to find a café where we could catch a break. He turned off the main highway and sped off down a side road where we came to a large modern hotel. It felt good to get some circulation back into our bodies. The placed appeared empty but the restaurant was open, so we enjoyed a short break over coffee and fried bananas, drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkled with shredded cheddar cheese. It was strangely delicious!
Back out in the parking lot, we all mounted our mopeds, me feeling much more secure and confident I cranked mine on, accidentally turning the handle giving a burst of gas to the engine and immediately shot up over a curb falling into a flowerbed! What a doofus! The others had taken off already. I feebly called to Frank who had to come back and lift the bike off me looking really worried. I laughed and said, "Rather here in a flower bed than out on the road".
Not long after leaving there raindrops began to fall, pelting our bare skin like BB's. Hans sought shelter at a tiny roadside café that was not much more than a crude hut where the owner sat eating at the counter. Within minutes the heavens opened up releasing a torrent of rain, the sky turned completely black and we thanked God we were safe and fairly dry. We must have stayed there for an hour and a half eating several bags of homemade fried cassava chips and freshly roasted peanuts. They were so delicious we each purchased several of the small bags to take home. Finally the downpour eased to intermittent rain and Hans announced we had to make a run for it or we would be stuck here all day. Ugh. Off we rode, rain streaking down our visors killing visibility and suffering once again the little bullets of rain against our skin. I was actually enjoying this more and more because it was forcing me to get real and get over my moped-a-phobia to focus on other things (like survival?).
Arriving at a popular swimming and dining spot on the beach amidst the boulders we stopped for lunch. By now we were soaked all the way through, clothes clinging to our dripping wet bodies we attracted more than a little attention from the locals who were dining here. Ute and I were ushered into the back by a woman where I thought we were going to be given towels to dry off or something, but she stopped at a large bin full of ice and a variety of whole fish, bags of shrimp and a variety of other seafood, pointing and looking at us as if asking us what we wanted. We pointed to a large fish and the shrimp, and then asked for Cumi Goreng (fried calamari). On the way out, we pointed to the fresh water spinach as well and then toward a pile of teapots. She nodded her understanding and then led us back to our table where the boys were already enjoying their large Anker beers. The meal was outstanding! Finally the rain abated and we wearily rode the few remaining miles back to the anchorage where we received reports that we missed a massive rainstorm and 35 + knot winds that literally rocked the anchorage. Some yachts had nearly rolled in the chop that was stirred up and some had experienced waves breaking over their gunnels, but were assured "Destiny" and "Taimada" had survived unscathed. Well thank goodness we missed all that!
Returning to "Destiny", we noticed that several items we had left on the sugar scoop were gone, apparently washed away when the storm hit. That was a bummer. There is no telling what else may have gone into the drink, and I'm sure we won't know until we go looking for them.
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Saturday was a rest day for Frank and I, so we took it easy while we watched Ute and Hans set off for some snorkeling and possible diving. They reported to us that the water was much too murky for decent visibility so we felt OK that we stayed aboard. "Relapse" had left at first light, but someone had also snuck in to our surprise, "Avant Garde" had arrived so we knew "Scallywag" must be close behind. They came bearing awful news that they had attempted a rescue of a German yacht, "Y Not" that had gone aground back at the Kumai river, and while attempting to free them, Scallywag's dinghy received a 3x3 foot rip in the pontoon and Avant Garde sustained some rub damage to her hull. At least they were able to free "Y Not" from peril. This has been a brutal year for us yachts! Nearly every one of us has had a frightful experience. Anyway, very happy to see them all again, we let them get some rest from their overnighter and then after dinner we converged on "Taimada" for a night of live music and song! Glor and Ute played guitars, Colin, Marion and Paul played their ukuleles, while Hans manned a calypso style drum and Frank and I just sang along trying to stay in tune. We had a ball! The party went on for hours until by 1:00 AM Frank and I begged for mercy. We had a 5 AM departure planned for Monday morning. Time is screeching for us to move along.
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Sunday, October 21, 2012
October 9 - 12, 2012 - Manggar, E. Belitung - An Amazing Visit With Our Favorite People in All of Indonesia
We gathered our papers and headed into shore where we were met by Hans van Babel who spread his arms outward and proclaimed, "We welcome you to Manggar, East Belitung! You are the very first Sail Indonesia Yachts to arrive!" He then kindly explained that although they are extremely happy to host us we arrived much earlier than the specified date thus they were not prepared for us. We quickly apologized ourselves and insisted that we have no expectations because we realize we are quite early, then further explained the rally foul-up of the dates and schedules resulting in a lot of confusion for everyone. We mentioned our need to purchase some diesel for our yachts, gasoline for our dinghies, beer and a few other necessities; also that we would like to find an ATM machine and a pharmacy. We let him know we would probably stay for just a day or so and then move on. Within minutes, Hans was on his phone making arrangements.
|Typical Hans - always with a camera in one hand and the phone to his ear|
Frank and I dined aboard "Taimada" that night, and although we truly enjoyed the fabulous steak dinner they served us we agreed that we enjoy their company much more than we would have imagined. They have quickly become good friends. We are ever so grateful to Bernd and Tanja for putting the four of us together.
We met Hans, Tiwi and Indra at 9 AM the next morning.
First they took us to the fresh market where they helped us to negotiate prices on fresh fruits, veggies and seafood. While Tiwi and I were browsing the clothing shops outside Frank managed to find a doughnut vendor, returning to us with a bag full of hot delicious half-moon shaped doughnuts. That's my boy! We then hit the supermarket and returned to the wharf to meet "C.A" and "FA" who were coming in with the rising tide around midday. After they got settled in, Hans and Tiwi returned to the waterfront in a large bus. They first took us to lunch at the same lovely lakeside restaurant where platters of food kept coming until we literally stuffed ourselves on a variety of wonderful dishes and then they drove us on a little sightseeing journey that ended at the top of the hill in front of the home of the Regent. Joining them were Sari and Andre.
|Kerry, Lynette, Hans, Sari, Ute, Tiwi, Barb, Frank, Chris, Russ, Andre, Hans|
They brought out dozens of bottles of Anker beer and Guinness Ale.
|Russ on left Andre, center|
Eventually, Hans announced that he was taking us back to the yachts to change for dinner and a big evening of entertainment.
|Leaving the Regent's house with cases of beer|
At 7 PM, our busses arrived to transport us to dinner where a large group of local dignitaries joined us. We supped on delicious calamari, whole fish, enormous shrimp, chicken satay, various veggies, rice, and fresh fruits. It was incredible. Afterward we were led over to a stage where we were treated to dancing and singing by beautifully costumed youth, who eventually grabbed each of us to join them on stage for a few dances.
Afterward one of the 'ministers made a speech and handed each couple tote bags made from local bamboo filled with t-shirts, followed by a presentation from Hans and a special gift of a small meteorite extracted during the excavation of the Belitung tin mines. Of course, dozens of bottles of beer were laid in front of us. The treatment we received was simply unbelievable. On the way back to our bus, Andre backed a truck up to the door and began unloading more cases of beer, saying - "…here take it it's free for you! Also tomorrow we will bring breakfast to all of you on your yachts: 9:00! Nasi Goreng!" Hans just stood by beaming his beautiful smile; so happy to do whatever they could for us.
|Ute, Tiwi, Barb, Sari|
|Hans getting Taimada's diesel|
|Destiny at the fuel wharf|
Tiwi drove us around town showing us her favorite places to shop, then we drove out to the lovely white sand beach. The view was magnificent! Ute and I started to get out of the car when Tiwi said; "OK, but be careful". What? I asked what we should be careful of, and she replied; "Just watch where you step", as she pointed to a signpost with a picture of a person squatting with a slash through it. Ute and I burst out laughing! I asked very crudely; "Does that sign mean "no shitting on the beach!?" Tiwi nodded in the affirmative and explained there is a certain culture of people here that likes to go onto the beach to do their toilet business.
Usually the tide will carry the waste out to sea cleaning the beach naturally. I immediately jumped out to snap a photo of the sign, followed by Ute who waved for me to wait - she wanted to be in the picture. She squatted beneath the sign with a mischievous smile on her face as I snapped the photo. Not to be outdone I of course had to follow suit! Poor Tiwi just laughed at us and shook her head.
She then asked us if we minded her stopping by her house to pick up her two little girls who wanted to meet us and to see our yachts. Of course we did not mind! Ute and I both had wanted to show our new friends our boats anyway. Eventually we returned to the wharf where a huge crowd had assembled to watch the American yacht get fueled. Frank and a couple of locals were busily siphoning diesel from a barrel into our tank, via our Baja filter. Frank had to clean the filter several times during the process. I'm not sure how much fuel we ended up with but I think it was in the neighborhood of 200 litres, and with that we were quite happy. Frank waived off the fresh water, although we were not in agreement on that point and lived to regret it later. When finished at the wharf Hans, Tiwi and her girls, Andre and a couple of his colleagues piled onto Destiny, all bearing their cameras and large smiles. I gave them a tour of our boat as we puttered over to re-anchor. Unfortunately while we were fueling up three more yachts had arrived. One of them had taken our spot and more making it difficult for us to find room to drop the hook. Why do people do that!? I was a bit irritated but got over it because we happen to like these other people. We transferred our passengers over to Hans and Ute who wanted to serve them tea aboard "Taimada" before we all loaded up into the busses once again. With the arrival of the others, our little group had grown to 15 cruisers now.
That night we were treated to yet another feast., this time at the home of the Regent where the story of the fishes and the loaves came into play. The chef was only expecting 8 guests plus Hans, Andre, Tiwi and Sari. Now they had 7 more mouths to feed. Amazingly they managed, treating us all like visiting ambassadors we dined in fine style. Hans wore himself out playing host to us all but we could tell he loved it. For dessert, he passed around pieces of a lovely cake that his sister had baked for us (and it was HER birthday). How absolutely thoughtful!
Friday morning, Andre arrived at the wharf promptly at 7:00 AM announcing to us all that breakfast is served. "Nasi Goreng!" He knew that those of us leaving today would await the rising tide around midday, so he chose one last opportunity to feed us. "FA & C.A" departed soon afterward.
Ute and I had so wanted to visit one of the famed coffee shops while here but our schedule had been very busy. Hans and Tiwi surprised us by arriving at the dock, waving us over to their cars. Hans took Frank and Hans with him, while Tiwi drove Ute and I to the "#1 coffee house in Manggar". On arrival, Hans proudly presented us the Pos Belitung newspaper that displayed a huge picture of Destiny at the fuel wharf squarely in the middle of the front page. It seems we have made the front page news again. We enjoyed the delicious richly roasted coffee while sampling local pastries and cakes that Hans and Tiwi had brought to the table. Eventually they reluctantly returned us to the waterfront loaded with newspapers and freshly baked breads where I nearly cried as we said goodbye. We exchanged email addresses and phone #'s with Hans and Tiwi promising to stay in touch. I do hope we will. We certainly plan to follow their progress as they reach toward the future. The people are what make Manggar so special. This has truly been the most heart-warming stop for us in all of our travels through Indonesia.
You will have to go to the "Our Pictures" link on the sidebar of this blog to see more photos. I've found that once I upload them to our web albums, they are no longer available to share on Facebook.
By noon we were away, setting a course for Nangka, Anchorage #84 in the "101 Indonesian anchorages book", some 30 miles to the northeast of Belitung.
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At Kumai, the rally events were scheduled for Oct 4 - 7, the emphasis being on 6 & 7 for the formal welcome and the "events", hence we scheduled our tour for Oct 4 & 5. On arrival, however, Sam the Sail Indonesia Rep., moved the ceremonial event dates up by two days so that we missed the official activities that occurred during our tour up the river. They did not, however, change the dates for future official stops. The next official stop is Manggar, E. Belitung, but not "officially" until 20 Oct. This is silly because there is no other place to go between 7 Oct and 20 Oct, hence the last three rally stops have gotten the short end of the stick because by now, many yachts have carried on, blowing off the schedule in order to get on up to Malaysia in time. Sail Indonesia put the screws to Belitung and Bangka who have spent a lot of resources, time and money in anticipation of the big rally events at their locations. We do hope there will be some yachts still around to do them justice.
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Thursday, October 18, 2012
By early afternoon we were working our way back out the main river, dodging small fishing boats and large cargo ships and barges. We spent the night anchored again at the mouth of the river. At daybreak we set off on an overnighter to East Belitung. We were shocked to find the sea here is surprisingly shallow. Our instruments registered depths of less than 20 feet under the keel for miles and miles offshore. Eventually we began to see 30+ feet and then suddenly the depth gauge would show 12. This felt very strange, but the gauges were correct, correlating with our electronic charts. After a few hours out we got word that "Relapse" (who had departed the previous day with 4 other yachts including "Taimada") was limping back to Kumai with a broken rudder, a busted dinghy and that Mark had lost the end of his finger. They had sailed right into a two-mile fishing net that was set in the middle of their path. It had tangled them up so badly that they sat for 7 hours over night until the fishermen who had laid the nets returned the next morning. We spoke to Mark on the radio as he passed by warning us that they had already passed three other large nets before they had gotten tangled. Those poor guys! We continued on extra cautiously after that. As day faded into night time the horizon came aglow with what at first we thought were cargo ships traveling in the shipping lanes and yet nothing - zip - zilch showed up on the radar or the AIS. Here we go again! Our night was fraught with small fishing boat traffic. My mind kept drifting back to the horror of the 2-mile long nets that may be laying in wait out there somewhere. It was an exhausting night of watches for us both but we made it through just fine and the bonus, which I forgot to mention, is that from the time we had left that morning until around 10:00 PM, we had incredibly great wind allowing us to sail at speeds of between 7.5 - 9.8 knots. Of course when the wind died it happed quickly as though a switch had been flipped off.
We motor sailed on through the next day and realized that having lost our wind and having picked up a 1.5 knot countercurrent we would not make Manggar in time, so we aimed for a little island 5 miles to the northeast called Siadong. As we were making our way into the anchorage dodging dozens of local fishing boats we came upon Taimada at anchor there. We visited with them on the radio to find that they had attempted to anchor at Manggar but found it much too rolly over there. They were planning to make another attempt in the morning so we agreed to follow them over after breakfast.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012
|Hans, Ute, Barb, Frank|
|Relaxing down the river|
|Frank, Barb, Ute, Hans|
At Camp Leaky we were advised not to carry any food and to keep everything including hats, sunglasses, cameras, bags, etc. very close to us because the orangutans are quite cheeky and will snatch and grab anything they can before we know what hit us. Walking into the camp, we came upon a pretty little monkey sitting in a tree staring at us.
Soon we came upon the camp where the dominant female orangutan named Siswi was sitting by a cabin munching on some bananas. As we approached another female carrying a baby attached to her side joined Siswi and they sat sharing bananas.
|Siswi showing off to Hans and Frank|
|Tom the alpha male|
|Proboscis Monkeys along the river|