Blog 5: surrounded by trees



Posted on 31 October 2012  | 
Meliau long house, West Kalimantan
© WWF-Indonesia / Jane SpenceEnlarge
We left the long house early on long boats that took us through a shallow, narrow river that left most of the boat drivers waist deep in water, pushing and pulling us along. The river opened onto Danau Sentarum. The pictures can explain the lake better than my words ever could.

I’ll hand the story-telling back to the students:


“This is the day where we will trek along the habitat of orangutan. In order to go to the area, we have to get on the long boat again. There is a time where the boys have to get out of the boat to give ease to the one who drives the boat as the river is small and hard to go through as logs can be spotted. After passing the small river, we went through a lake, the lake itself is very beautiful and it is said that Arwana and crocodile can be found at this place.”

“We passed Danau Sentarum, which was just beautiful. It felt so pristine. I hope it stays that way for a long time.”

“Not much talking this trip. There was too much beauty to look at.”

We landed at the research station which sits surrounded by trees in the midst of a forest. It’s a simple wooden building with 3 rooms for sleeping, a bathroom (running water!) and a wide verandah. It was built here because the area was being logged illegally – the idea was that placing the station there would help deter the illegal activities.

We rested awhile and then separated into groups for a hike:

“And then…there was…the hike. It was AMAZING. I just had the time of my life walking through the dense jungle with no trails or any sort of man-made structures. We had to swing on trees, slip up and down super steep hills and avoid thorny plants. The hike was also quite educational as we learnt about the stages and positions of orangutan nests. We also learnt how to recognize edible plants in the forest. I hope I never get lost but if I did, I reckon I could survive.”

“I learned a lot of interesting survival skills during the jungle trekking including plants that we can eat and how to get water from trees! Sadly, we didn’t get to see any orangutan; I think we were too loud… At the end of the day, I think I shouldn’t have been scared off by the jungle trekking because it turned out to be a lot of fun!”

“During the trekking activity, I had the chance to receive a photography lesson given by Pak Sugeng (WWF's photographer), I learned about the 1/3 rule as well as the right proportion of a photo. During the trek, we saw mushrooms, normal mushrooms as well as the black ones. We also saw 2 orangutans nests, but too bad we didn't encounter any of the orangutans. Although, we almost saw a gibbon but then it went away after hearing our voices.”

“The hike was unlike any other hike I’ve experienced before…I was so exhausted by the end of it, but it was amazing! I feel like I have climbed Mt Everest or something!”

“The hike was the best part of the trip…we didn’t see any orangutan but we did see nests. Hendri (our guide) taught us the positions and 5 classes of the nest and then tested us.

The jungle was thick and it made it more challenging and fun to trek. We only saw giant ants (no other wildlife) but I’m not surprised as we did often forget to be quiet. It was so inspiring for Hendri to express his love of trees.”

We spent the night sitting around a bonfire, telling stories, sharing talents (or lack of!). These diary entries sum up the end of the evening nicely:

“Before going to sleep, my friends and I spend our time by playing cards, when we did, we heard someone singing and it turns out that the singer Nugie has arrived!!! whoaaa!!!”

Nugie, his assistant, and a handful of WWF staff serenade us into the night. Nugie, an Indonesian musician and keen WWF supporter, has joined the trip to experience the Heart of Borneo and help us promote our work here.

“There was a bonfire at night. We traded experiences. Went to bed really early. We had a 1cm pad for a bed and a mosquito net for a blanket. I fell asleep immediately.”

Meliau long house, West Kalimantan
© WWF-Indonesia / Jane Spence Enlarge
The long boats took us through a shallow, narrow river that left most of the boat drivers waist deep in water, pushing and pulling us along
© WWF-Indonesia / Sugeng Hendratno Enlarge
Long boat through Danau Sentarum (Lake Sentarum), West Kalimantan
© WWF-Indonesia / Jane Spence Enlarge
Danau Sentarum (Lake Sentarum) in West Kalimantan
© WWF-Indonesia / Jane Spence Enlarge
School trip group photo on the walk to the research station
© WWF-Indonesia / Sugeng Hendratno Enlarge
We landed at the research station which sits surrounded by trees in the midst of a forest
© WWF-Indonesia / Jane Spence Enlarge

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