The biggest man-made natural disaster you don’t know about – My article you don’t know about

Hey guys! I have a new article out now that you probably haven’t seen:

The biggest man-made natural disaster you don’t know about.

This was a crazy article for me to write, especially since it’s so very personal to me and anyone else who lives in Malaysia. I started it when I was traveling Thailand about a month ago, and after writing the 1st draft I knew this was one of those pieces which need a lot of attention to get right. So I waited until I came back home to dress it up and send it out.

So please check it out, and share it as it would help me out so much!

Thanks guys, and I’ll see you Friday!

Sincerely,

James

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One of the biggest man-made natural disasters you don’t know about

One of the biggest natural disasters this year started 6 months ago, and I doubt you know about it if you’re not from Asia. Because besides the fact that it affected several countries in South East Asia, the major media outlets haven’t bothered to even headline it.

“Not even kinda?”, you ask?

Yep, not even kinda.

Between July and October this has been going on, and the country I live in was suffocating in a thick smoke that traveled across the sea from Indonesia for 2 months of it. A haze, repugnant in look and smell, and in an absolutely god-awful taste rolled into Penang, Malaysia while I was away. I heard about it while I was gone, but nothing that was startling. Nothing about how devastating it really is. So after a month of travel, I came back to what I thought was a normal Penang. Almost exactly how I left it. And for the most part it looked so. I didn’t know the winds had shifted, sending it another direction. A few days after returning we were getting back into our routine. I was starting my school year. Everything seemed to be back to normal.

But then it began.

It’s a yearly event, something that was mentioned in passing by fellow expats who have experienced it for decades. But no one could expect that this would be the worst year since it started over 2 decades ago.The white smoke snuck in from below and above. It blocked out the sun, and covered the mainland before weaving its way along the bay outside my apartment, slowly covering everything in sight 3,000 meters away. Then 2,000ms. 1,000ms. Suddenly our gorgeus view was replaced by a smog so thick I could cut it with a knife.

But by then the view was the least of our problems.

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Our view a year ago.

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Our view in early October

Once it began to seep into our apartment we had to have our doors and windows closed at all times. We soon became the air-conditioning addicts we made fun of before, and avoided going outside completely. On Facebook, I could see people who had jobs outdoors wearing gas-masks. Schools were closed across Malaysia, and every outdoor acivity was cancelled without mention.

Everyone knew that the haze had officialy closed down a country.

So cooped up in our apartment, avoiding the outside world by ordering groceries online and calling for take-out, we looked up what this haze really was.

And this turned up.

Our country-neighbor Indonesia, one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been, is also one of the leading exporters of Palm Oil. Palm Oil is in 50% of the products you use, in case you didn’t know. And with fields across the nation, companies big and small manufacture and sell it internationally. But after a busy year, the fields that had once hosted their products barren, and are completely useless to them. The crops, after use, tarnish the field to an almost, un-reusable extent. They need to start again, and need fresh space to plant new trees. But how can they do this?

Well, it’s simple. Burn the soil, and replant, and while you’re at it expand a little.

Quick and easy, right?

“Today, rainforest area the equivalent of 300 soccer fields is being destroyed every hour.”

RainForest-Rescue.org

This year it started in June, and winds from El Nino (The big bad storm) pushed the smoke to Singapore, Malaysia, and even up to Thailand. Since the fires started aren’t properly contained AT ALL (Smaller businesses even claim not to start them), the fire doesn’t just stop in the counterfeit fields. It spreads into one of the most magnificent and beautiful jungles in the world, home to the ever-dwindling orangutans, monkeys, rhinos and tigers.

And to countless Indonesians.

And while most years these fires are put out relatively soon, this year the right winds and a very dry rainy-season provided the perfect opportunity for the fires to manifest. Unstoppable, they eat away the jungle into ash as they suffocate Indonesian children, women, and men. With over 500,000 documented respritatory tract infections this year, there is an expected 100,000 premature deaths for next year caused by the smoke. 

And while Malaysians complained about the haze, looking at the official Haze Index, the highest the smoke reached was in the late 200’s.  That was where schools closed. The highest it is in the U.S.A at the moment is 107 at a town in California (Who knows whats going on over there). But you know what the index was in Indonesia? A place where a large percentage of the population can only afford curtains for doors, much less air-conditioning? Where fires rage uncontrollably over 5,000km of their land?

Over THREE THOUSAND.

Haze in Central Kalimantan

“These fires are a threat to the health of millions. Smoke from landscape fires kills an estimated 110,000 people every year across Southeast Asia, mostly as a result of heart and lung problems, and weakening newborn babies.” ~ An excerpt from news.mongabay.com

 

 


 

 

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While the flames have finally died last month, Indonesia is slowly recuperating from the devastation left. “Slash and burn needs to be put to a stop…” says, The Guardian, who also says that small buisnesses and the government are apart of the problem. The small buisnesses really can’t be held accountable until the government strengthens the laws on the fires killing their country.

But right now Indonesia needs everyone’s help. The corrupt government isn’t helping its citizens, calling the complaining affected countries (Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand), sensitive, and saying that it has done enough for its people by telling them to “stay indoors”. But when indoors isn’t even possible for most, what can the people do? And while the endangered Orangutans are slowly being rescued from the flames, it is more clear than ever that it just isn’t enough.

So how can we help?

We can help by spreading the word of the devastation. And we can help by donating to help kids and mothers and the Orangutans in Indonesia. If you didn’t know this was happening, your friends probably don’t either. So please spread the word by person and online.

Don’t let ignorance kill lives.

 

Sources

 

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Cambodia

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Some Pond-Pondering time

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(From left to right) Me, my Mom, and Aunt Tiffany :)

I’m writing this on a small seated bus thats coasting past Cambodian countryside. The green luscious nature envelopes the stranded farms and houses, and as the various vehicles pass us they leave a floating trail of dust for the sorry soul behind them.
We’re exactly an hour into the 6 hour journey that unfolds itself for every traveler rolling their way towards Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from Cambodia’s capital Phenom Pehn. It’s been 5 days since I left my home in Malaysia with my Mum and headed to Siem Reap, Cambodia to meet
with a friend of ours from Mexico. After stressful months of planning, our intricate 30 day trip was taking us to Cambodia, Vietnam,Laos and Thailand. My parents wanted to take advantage of our ideal locationing to other South East Asia Countries to travel, yet this trip is almost the last
one for us (except for a quickie to Thailand in December) before we head to the U.S.A in April. So far I’ve been to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia in this area, and Japan and Russia on the way over. Every place has been an experience (majorly a wonderful one). But this trip is almost an awakening to me
that I’m leaving so soon. I’ve been in Malaysia for 10 months! Where has the time gone?
But diving right in, arriving to Cambodia was a piece of cake. After getting checked into the country we went for a taxi, which unlike every other country I’ve ever been in we got in line without drivers fighting over us. There was no yelling or badgering, and we paid the people at a stand instead of the driver.
Siem Reap seemed dusty at first sight, and I wasn’t wrong to think so. But even though this was a con to me, everything about the city was natural and friendly. As soon as we pulled out of the airport I saw a girl no older than 10 driving a Moto, cackling mischievously while a boy not much younger pedaled on a bike behind her trying to grab on.
Talking to the taxi driver it was rainy season which was a good thing for us because tourists were few, and the ruins would be free of large crowds. We got to our hotel, and after finding a friend of ours we were meeting with who’d travel with us for the rest of the trip (All photos are from her Iphone :) ) we headed out to grab a bite to eat.
Tuk-Tuks were running rampant everywhere and we watched our step carefully as we made our way to the “main street” in Siem Reap, Pub Street. Pub Street is filled with restaurants and Massage Parlours, and the streets (already jam-packed with people) are lined with every kind of food vendor there is, from crepes to bugs. After grabbing dinner and a massage (An hour is
8 U.S.D) we headed back to get some rest for the next day of ruin exploring.
We booked a guide the night before, so after getting some breakfast we grabbed a Tuk-Tuk with him to start our “Ruins” tour. The plan was to see two different ruins consisting of palaces and temples, before heading onto Angkor Wat (One of the wonders of the world). They were all resting in the same general area, and after paying an entrance fee we rode down a long dirt trail surrounded on either side by thick forest. Meandering across the grass beside us
were pigs, dogs, and even monkeys. After watching these trios lazily peruse the ground for food, we exited the forest and road beside a moat. It made a circle around a large temple, partly covered by trees. This towering building turned out to be Angkor Wat. But we left it as soon as we’d first seen it, and we weren’t going to return until the end of it. We entered the forest again and drove on (If you can consider a clanking tuk-tuk drivable) until the trees cleared up. Tall, bold, and crumbling ruins towered ahead, and as we parked outside the crowds, elephants, with their creased grey leather skin, were feet away with their caretakers.
The first ruin was very much a ruin. It was beaten and battered, with tourist scattering along it like ants. One fine detail I took away from it was just that. All the details. It seemed as if no wall, no column, no step was left untouched, not unique. Gods, worshippers, soldiers, and monsters were depicted everywhere. Sometimes in complicated, 25 foot long murals, other times hidden behind door ways.
As we walked around, it was hard to not fall instantly into a world hundreds and hundreds years younger. Though the snorting elephants and clinking cameras were ‘delightful” anchors towards the present.
We soon left this ruin and moved on to the next one, passing by a temple so tall and steep it seemed it was meant as a slide rather than something people worshipped on. White Elephants were erected on each corner, the almost patriotic animal of this country. Our next stop was at the end of a long erected pathway that ended at another ruin, one which we didn’t bother to climb (Preserving our energy for Angkor Wat).
After more walking and tuk-tuk riding, we finally arrived to Ankor Wat. Surrounded by tall, strong walls that over the years had not lost a single breath of their bold bronze, Angkor Wat itself towered high above. Getting up there seemed to be the final chapter of our adventurous day, as the sides of it slid up with stairs steep enough to need railings. We did make it up to there though, and the view from the top offered a large pond in a backyard with two stone gate houses. The exit led an orange dusty path into the trees like a start of a maze.
In the center of the temple where we walked, there were 4 pools meant to represent the 4 main elements. They laid empty and dusty though, and for some strange reason echoing “Meows” every now and again. Oh, those were the cats in the pipes. The felines darted around, peeing on shrines (while eating the sacrifices laid out) and poking their heads out fo the ominous drains which led to who knew where.
How they got there, or why they stayed I have no idea. But before we left I made a mental note to bring catfood next time.
We left the ruins and the dark clouds that had begun to cry on us, and we were back to our hotel in time for Dinner (And a big one at that).
The next day we were off to Phenom Penn, and besides for a very bumpy 6-hour bus trip (Or was it 8?) we arrived to our hotel amongst some major construction. We didn’t end up doing much there, as the city just wasn’t our type of place. Nothing bad, but I would say that it was the least wonderful place we visited on our trip.
So after just a couple of days we were outta there, and Ho Chi Minh city is coming ever closer. My first communist country at that (Russia, to my surprise, isn’t communist. Who woulda thunk. Can you name the five which are though?).
Until next week guys! 11831718_10153224901154051_6366882561667215763_n 11855835_10153233574094051_3542447060279332511_n 11873408_10153233574959051_4618959260003439663_n 11880591_10153233574274051_5549898900376185942_n

Through Singapore (1/2)

I’ve been to Thailand and Indonesia. I’ve living in Malaysia. Believe me when I write that in the South East Asia I’ve explored, Singapore is what you find in the back of a magical wardrobe beside Narnia. Sleek silver brilliance striked with elegance and class, the most expensive country in the world was a shock to my system after 8 months of living in cabins in the jungle, trekking through dusty crowded cities, and crossing bridges into developing islands. All these massive buildings that cast their long shade down entire roads, all the international people, and all the cameras. The country where chewing gum in public is illegal was where I stayed for almost a week, and where I saw the lifestyle of the wealthiest class that exists mesh with those who sell Wanton Mee out of carts and hang their laundry off bamboo sticks. Singapore is a pretty cool place though, and I’m going to tell you all about it.

I arrived with my parents after an overnight bus ride from Malaysia, where getting into the country was easy (Though a few Arabian men were held back, most likely Singapore being cautious about Murrs). Hotel was an easy walk away from the bus station, and by the time we were checked in we were back out again. The main downtown area of Singapore is small, so walking we found an MRT Station and bought Easy-Pass cards. This turned out to be one of the best things we would’ve done, as the MRT was crazy-easy to use and got us everywhere we wanted to go for our complete stay for about 14 Singaporean Dollars each. We walked around downtown a bit once we were in the center of it all, and as luck would have it a free walking tour was starting and my Mom was more than excited to join it. Somehow we had missed the fact that the annual Olympic-Tier sports tournament was happening in Singapore for that week, and 2 free walking tours covering Little India and China Town were cancelled. But as luck would have it we were able to join the last Walking tour of the week through the business Centre and beyond. So not even 6 hours off the bus we were walking around Singapore with 3 college girls explaining this building and that fountain and this hotel. While I do enjoy these types of things, it was a major walk-athon after a short, abrupt night’s sleep. 2 and a half hours later I was more than happy to go eat do I could sit down.

But touching on Singaporean History, the nation used to be apart of Malaysia but broke off for a couple of reasons. One being that the main leader Lee Kuan Yew wanted full control, and after centuries of British Rule he wanted to grow Singapore to be free of corruption. Having a thriving trade port, Singapore was able to finance itself and grow steadily. With a strong set of rules, Singapore never as much as stumbled. One particular bump that it had to get past though was the multiple ethnicities within its borders. 60% Buddhist and just under 20% Muslim, along with Hindus and Christians flourishing abundantly, religious discrimination was something that couldn’t exist for even a second if Singapore were to reach its full potential. So intense rules stating that not even a word of hate against any other religions were put in place, and massive fees were placed upon those who broke them. This greatly discouraged everyone else, and from it the country remained peaceful. Though those were not only the intense rules to exist. Jaywalking, chewing gum, and most recently publicly drinking alcohol after 10:30 at night are all prohibited with the threat of tall looming fines placed on all of them. And I’m only mentioning a few. It’s so common to have to pay a fine in Singapore that stalls are placed across the city for easy access to those who have to pay them.

But luckily I never broke the rules while there (Actually I should rephrase that: Never got caught. I may or may not have jaywalked there but I’m not tellin’ you nothin’.). After the walking tour my Mom and I met my Father at the Crazy Elephant in Clarkes Key, a main night-time area in Singapore. Situated alongside a river, the Key is crawling with tourists. My Dad being the musician he is was invited a week before to jam there, so as he played music I played pool and watched a light show coming off of Marina Bay Sands. You know, that hotel with a ship on the top of it.

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57 stories? Yeah, I think so. 57.

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Scenic place, but damn is it expensive.

It was a fun night, and believe me when I say that I crashed hard that night. In the morning, we were off to China Town, Orchard Road, and the top of Marina Bay Sands (The super cool hotel I told you about. Yes. To the very top.)

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Singaporean Buisness Centre

Interviews and thoughts of growing up with travel

Hey guys, how are you?

Diving right in: I’ve been thinking about travel recently and its affects on me for the past 10 years. At 16 I’ve been to 20 different countries, and I haven’t lived in one place for longer than 5 years. Its been exciting, and always different. Recent events have made me re-evauluate my life, a life without travel.

What would that have been like?

I think I would be a very different person if I hadn’t always seen places and met people as a foreigner. Sometimes I forget that always being the new guy in a place isn’t supposed to be a yearly event. I’ve grown up looking at a side of life that allows failures, lives off passion, flourishes in the bad times, and will always appreicate the good times. And now I can’t imagine living in a different way.

So I guess a little self-exploratory is this weeks blog :). Who in your life inspires you the most, and what effect do you think you might have on people in your life? For me a professional donut tester is probably the most influential.

Frosted? Yes please.

My Mom was interviewed by An Epic Education talking about our whole life adventure from the start a decade ago. So if you would like to learn a bit more about me, from leaving normal life in the U.S to sailing in the carribean, from a different perspective you can listen to it here.

Thanks for reading guys! Until next time,

Sincerely, James

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I wrote about homeschooling in Malaysia!

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In the Indonesian Jungle – Part 3 – Revenge of the Orangutan

At 7 in the morning rain on our tin roof had stopped and I was out of bed and getting dressed, ready for breakfest. Today was Trek day, and jeans and a long sleeve shirt were the ideal clothes to fight the bugs, though not the heat. We were heading out at 8, so we made sure to go get breakfast as soon as we could to beat our guide, and just when we finished, he popped up, his afro visible first as he climbed up the steps.

The guy that had brought us in from the bus terminal was guiding us, along with another worker from the hotel who couldn’t have been 4 or 5 years older than me. They would be bringing us through the jungle for the next 4 hours.

When we had eaten and were all ready to go, we followed our guide out of the hotel and between the stores, cabins, and restaraunts down the river. We ended coming up to one of those really dangerous, unsafe looking bridges that I mentioned, and without batting an eye we started to cross it one by one. Okay, in reality maybe they weren’t that unsafe. Though the one next to use consisted of single pieces of wood and no guard rails. But it didn’t help that it had rained the night before and the river had risen and was going very fast.

It was a beautiful day, just a bit overcast so that we wouldn’t be soaking with sweat a few minutes in, and when we got to the entrance  I realized I didn’t have to worry about the sun. Jungles pretty much cover you on their own.

The entrance to the jungle, which was a national park, was a simple arch way, and a few signs explaining what some different trees and plants are. But before we could even get to see that, another guide with a different group pointed out a Vine Snake in the trees next to use. Absolutely still and poised on a branch, in was probably about a foot and a half long on a vivid leaf green that made him blend in perfectly. Our guide explained what it was, and the only reason it stuck with me was because Vine Snakes generally pick a branch and stay there, for about 3 months. They don’t move for 3 months, besides for when an unluky critter climbs up the tree (not the monkey!) or a bird flies down onto the branch where the snake gets a meal.

When we finished taking photos, we finally went through the entrance, passed by a restaraunt-area  and by some houses until we got to the bottom of a hill, where we crossed a wimpy stream of water on a wobbly board and started to climb. Walking up a trail, we passed by Rubber Trees (A whole valley) which hold little halves of coconuts midway on them to collect the draining tree’s rubber. After spotting jumping Thomas Leaf Monkeys in the trees, we discovered coffee beans, and glowing blue spiders. We kept our eyes peeled for orangutans, but it wasn’t until an hour and a half in we spotted some.

They were in the trees, a Mother orangutan and her child, probably a couple hundred feet up. Too far up for our Iphone 3 to take photos, sp onstead we “Ooohed” and “Ahhed” from the ground, taking a step back every time the baby would try to throw something at us (luckily he didn’t have a very good aim) After a several minutes of that, we kept on walking. My dad had made a sling shot out of dried pieces of Rubber from the trees and with a perfect branch. As we walked he picked up different nuts and aimed a certain rocks, the more he shot the more flexible the slingshot became. We also had walking sticks and small crowns on made of leaves, so you might say we had become one with the jungle just waiting for the perfect vine to swing off of.

After a couple of more sightings of orangutans far up in the trees above us, we finally spotted orangutans close up.

There were a group of people hanging around our red-haired furry friends, a mother and her 2 children. They were so close, hanging out in trees arms-distance away. Some people were grabbing their hands when they reached out, others were busy taking selfies (Hi, I’m James, and I take selfies when I travel and see mokeys)

We watched them jump, swing, and play. While I didn’t agree with the way people crowded them (A decent 10 to 14 people were there) or how they thought it was okay to touch them, but it was really sweet seeing the orangutans in their natural habitat.

Again, after a spree of photos, we were off, going up and down, grabbing onto roots and sometimes reaching points so steep you rather were climbing up or sliding down (usually on your bum)

We passed by a small waterfall at some point where we got to cool off, and after a couple of hours more we were on the last leg of the trip – River Rafting.

Now I mention earlier how the river was looking quite menacing that day, so one can only imagine how it looked a couple of feet away, as I sat in a tire tube barely fitting in it with my mum sharing it with me. But our fearless guides had long, strong sticks in the back and front (we were 4 tires connected front to back) and they heaved us off into the river wielding them around, slicing through the river water was they pushed us off of rocks.

The whole rafting-adventure lasted about 15 minutes, as we passed waterfalls, and really, really, really menacing rocks. But over all, the worst that happened was that we got soaked – which was also the best thing that could have happened.

So overall, our time spent in the Indonesian Jungle was spectacular. We ended up spending the rest of the day not really doing much (besides whining about how achy we were) and the following day we ended up doing a bat cave, which was an hour of sliding through dark caves with 2 flashlights that worked (in a group of 5) on slippery rocks, trying not to smoosh crickets or the cricket-look-alikes that were really spiders sometimes the size of half my hand. Besides a countless amount of bats, I got to see swallow-nests at the very back of the cave, wading through over-ankle deep water.

After a nail in the foot (trying-on shoes injury) and the revelation that we’d been living with a rat for the majority of our stay (cookies were our casualty), we headed out on our 5th day to do 3 and a half hour of riding in a van, quite comfier than our buses, and hopped on a plane back to Malaysia.

“YOU SHALL NOT PASS”
Oh, wait. What was that?
Damn!

No Photographers were harmed in the taking of this photo.

No Photographers were harmed in the taking of this photo.

Rubber tree for Slingshots, Croxs, Cond- ... Er, and other certain rubber products

Rubber tree for Slingshots, Croxs, Cond- … Er, and other certain rubber products

Vine Ssssnake thinking of something. Three months with nothing to do. I wonder what it thinks of?

Vine Ssssnake thinking of something. Three months with nothing to do. I wonder what it thinks of?

Thomas Leaf Monkey just chillin'

Thomas Leaf Monkey just chillin’

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Sadly, I didn't pass the exam into their clan. Something about lack of

Sadly, I didn’t pass the exam into their clan. Something about lack of “orange” and “…Banana-Eating Apetite”

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'Art thou' King of the Jungle

‘Art thou’ King of the Jungle

Taking a dip was the main thing on my mind

Taking a dip was the main thing on my mind

I resisted the feeling in me trying to convince myself to steal his spot.

A brief “So Far”| Bangkok, Thailand

After 23 hours, our train from Penang, Malaysia arrived in Bangkok in the Afternoon, and our adventure began out on the streets in one of the most exciting cities of Asia. Our time here has already been amazing, and 5 more days will surely fly by. Once I get back I’ll have Articles on crossing the border, the biggest Reclining Buddha in the world, spectacular street-dishes, and what to expect walking down a single road here in Bangkok. Stay tuned guys!

“Human Lives are buildings under construction; how intricate the detail, how wonderful the message, and how high you are is up to you.” 

~Sincerely, James

 

 

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These vases were hidden underneath stairs at the end of a temple – yet they have intricate designs of dragons and serpents spanning in golden color along the middle which are absolutely stunning.

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In this river, wooden boats whizzing by, slcing through choppy waves are swarming around.

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On the streets inexpensive clothes and food are guarenteed, even throwing stars and models of extra-terrestrials from the Aliens vs. Predator franchise made with wire and lightbulbs can be found.

 

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A statue with a mournful face are everywhere along the temples, some with very toothy grins even.

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Never ending, these golden statues have been here for hundreds of years – and will be for hundreds more.

 

Bukit Lawang – In the Indonesian Jungle, Part 2

(See Video Here)

As if the hot weather of Mexico had snuck into my baggage, following me across the Pacific Ocean, down the coast of Asia, and waiting patiently in my backpack for me to go to Bukit Lawang to pop out, it was seriously hot here. I’m trekking up the steep stone steps to my cabin, my backpack pulling me backwards, while my sleep-craved body pushed upwards, listening to the sounds of the rushing river behind me, and yipping monkeys in front of me. I’m sweating like I haven’t been living in hot climates since I was 6 (the irony) and I smell like I hadn’t had a shower all day (not too far from the truth)

But hey, I was taking an early step to being one with the jungle, and if a tiger came running by I would be the best camouflaged in the village.

There were only 4, or 5 cabins that made up our hotel, and ours was the third one on the left. It was pretty much a dream come true for the minimalist, and a nightmare for the person who can’t bear to live without watching The Walking Dead with air conditioning on a sofa not entombed in a mosquito net. Walking inside, we make way around the room opening the windows and the doors to the balcony, and I don’t even take a second to look around the room until I feel a breeze come in. It’s a small room, but fits in the jungle environment. A large, pink bed with a pink mosquito net drawn around sits in the corner, taking up almost half of the space. My bed is aloft, at the end of a ladder, about 7 feet above the ground on the opposite corner from the Princess Bed. Below it are steps that lead down into the bathroom, where a large hole in the corner lets in light, also giving a view of the village of tin roofs beside us. The bathroom is a large room with a wooden branch next to the sink the size of me with little branches sticking out of it that could hold your towel and clothes when you took a shower. The shower was a pipe that came out of the wall and when you turned it on, you had to let it run to get past the brown murky water. The best part though, was the toilet which held no toilet seat, and to flush you dumped water into it from a bucket of water.

Drinking good ‘ol ginger coffee

It was all spectacularly awesome (From the windows, to the walls) and we had a fantastic breeze coming in from our balcony, which offered a view of the river and the wall of jungle. We headed downstairs after dropping all of our stuff off, and enjoyed some Indonesian food (I had Chicken Curry, and we got some Vegetable Spring rolls to share) and had the opportunity to talk with the employees. Practically the moment we were done eating, my dad was playing guitar with 2 other guys, the population of the reception area gradually growing as the sound of strings reached ears of other musicians down the road. It was time for bed though, and I was dead-asleep in my room ten minutes later.

Omellete Roti

In the morning, everyone was awake by 9 and drinking ginger-coffee and having Roti Omelettes (Omelettes with tomato, egg, cheese, and most importantly grated potato) down at reception. After making plans for a trek through the jungle the next day, we got to take our time and walk through the village, looking in some stores. Being a pretty isolated place, the “grocery” stores had only non-refrigerated things (Milk was condensed for coffee) and mini-sized things travelers would probably forget, like shampoo or toothpaste. But in the local shops, they held much more. With dozens of bracelets and necklaces with Indonesian wood carvings at the end, and perfectly carved wooden statues of orangutans, the shops were full with cool knick-knacks. It only took us a couple of minutes to find things we wanted, and my dad was carrying Indonesian Hand-Drums on the way out. For the rest of the day, we walked around, eating at different places, discovering new views of the jungle. I took a swim at one point in the river, and got out with a bruised bottom for skipping along the rocks (Not my proudest moment)

View from Reception

At a restaurant looking over the river, we met 4 Australians who were making a mini web-series called “Yearns Out”, and Bukit Lawang was one of their first stops in their 6-month planned journey across Asia. They were filming Nomadic people that had made drastic (or not-so-drastic) changes in their lives, travel-wise. I ended up playing cards with some of their group, and we all got along fantastically. Their next stop turned out to be Penang (They may or may not have planned it before or after my family and I had talked about it) and ended up heading there on the same flight we were.

At the end of the day, we were all in bed extra-early to be prepared for the 5 hour trek the next day in the jungle, that would end with us rafting back down the river. On this trek, we’d be looking out for Orangutans, snakes, any other monkey because they’re always awesome, and Tigers (OK, maybe we weren’t exactly trying to find the tigers, but just a couple of months ago one was rumored to have stolen a couple of cows) So in the morning, we were up and ready to head out, quite excited.