Orangutans and their Friends
Borneo isn’t a place you really expect to end up. We went to Borneo because there they have live aboard boats that you can stay on with a crew of four: a cook, a guide, a captain, and a co-captain, and see orangutans. You go out for a certain number of days and nights, we opted for three days and two nights. Each day you float through the swamp area of Borneo, Indonesia. You stop once or twice a day to go to a camp to see the workers feed the orangutans. You have three meals a day, made by the cook. You get to see other kinds of monkeys, crocodiles, birds, bugs, and lizards along the way.
We arrived in Borneo around 9 PM. We were shocked to find that the airport was a four room building, and on the runway there were no lights, the only thing giving it light was the small beams of light coming from the airport building. We entered the small packed room full of anxious people waiting for their bags. As soon as we entered the room, we were greeted by a man named Andi. Andi was the man who had sorted out our orangutan boat trip we were going to go on. We got our bags then headed to the hotel we would be staying at. Once we got there, after a bumpy taxi ride, Andi got us settled in and told us everything we would need to know for the boat tomorrow. We were hungry being that the only thing we had eaten all day were some small crepe like pancakes at 9 AM. We went out to find dinner. The farther from the hotel we walked the less there was. The only things open were some stalls selling drinks and snacks. We looked to see what time it was to see that half of our clocks said 10 and half said 11. We figured out that it was 11 instead of 10. So we got some snacks and drinks and called it a night.
The next morning we got up early, around 7, so we could have time for breakfast before we had to leave at 8 for the boat. We got packed and ready and headed down to eat. We ate quickly then met up with our guide, Nina, in the lobby. We waited a bit for the cab to show. We talked for a bit with Nina about the boat until the cab came. We loaded our bags in the trunk then squished in. We drove for about twenty minutes, then stopped at their mall to get some snacks for the boat and find me a hair brush since mine fell out of my backpack. We went in and found some snacks, got me a hair brush, and some drinks. We drove to the docs to find twenty or so houseboats. On each dock there were about four houseboats aligned side by side. Our boat was the one touching the dock so all we had to do was jump on. The other people who had boats not on the dock had to hop on our boat then jump across to the next one and so on.
Our boat was a two story boat made of wood and was painted green. The bottom level was where the crew stayed and slept. The cook would cook outside on a sliver of the boat that connected the first floor and second floor and the bathroom. She did this because the bottom level was around three-four feet tall. The bathroom was a little shed like thing that had some cracks in the wood floor so you could see the water below you. It was about three feet wide and six feet long. On the floor next to the toilet were two buckets of water with a scooper in them. Every time, after you would go to the bathroom, you were supposed to scoop some out and put it in the toilette. The boat was about eight feet wide four feet tall, and thirty feet long.
Once we got on we went upstairs to where we would be staying. There were two beds joined to make about the size of a twin, and a wooden table with four chairs around it. We waited till all the people to the side of us were on so we could roll out.
The engine roared and we started our journey. The boat went really smooth, only wobbling when Dad would walk from one side to the other. We drove along the river for about two hours admiring the beautiful plants and animals on both sides of us. We were first headed to Orangutan feeding camp number one. On the way there we got an amazing lunch made by the cook. When we were done we headed to the camp. We were the last ones so we were left to jump from three boats to get to the dock. It was about a ten minute walk to get to where they feed them. We walked through the forest with Nina helping us spot different mushrooms and animals. The creepiest animal we found was a giant red forest ant as long as a key and as tall as a phone. Once we made it to the camp, there was a big wooden pad about twenty feet away. There were two ropes blocking people from coming in and four wooden benches for people to sit on and watch. We got there twenty minutes early so we could get a seat. Bad idea, we got so many random creepy bugs on us. The guys in front of us got a praying mantis on one of their backs, several beetles, and wasps/winged insects. We waited until a man came out with a huge wooden bag full of bananas. He emptied it out on the platform and left. The only Orangutans that came where mothers with their babies. We watched for a while and took pictures then left. When we got back to the dock we climbed over to our boat. We waited for everyone around us to go so we could pull out.
We drove for a while finding proboscis monkeys and a crocodile along the way. Around sunset, we pulled into the side of the river where we would be sleeping for the night. We ate dinner, lighted by candles. While we ate they brought up another twin mattress and two mosquito nets. They turned the beds so we were looking out onto the river. They pulled down a big tarp blocking the side with all the plants, so no monkeys or other living things could climb in. We played some games then went to bed. The next morning we woke up early again, around 7 so we could eat breakfast and get the beds and nets packed up and still have time to drive an hour to get to the next feeding camp. We ate breakfast while we drove to the next place. Once we got there we were again one of the last, so we had to climb on and off around six boats. When we got to the dock we walked to the next camp. We walked for about five minutes when we reached it. This time the platform where the Orangutans ate was only about ten feet away, instead of twenty. The guys came and emptied the bananas out, but they also brought big steel bowls that they poured cow’s milk in. More of the same happened in the beginning, just the mothers and their babies came to eat. When suddenly everyone but one ran away, we had no idea what was going on until out of nowhere a HUGE male came out of the forest. He was about twice as big as the females. He was covered in mounds of fur and sweat. After the male had eaten all the bananas and drunk all the milk, he and the other lady left. While we walked back to the dock Nina told us that during the feeding time if two females are together there’s no problem, and if a male and female are together there’s no problem, but when two males are together it could be very bad.
We made it back to the dock and climbed back on our boat. We drove for three hours to get to our next feeding spot. As we drove we saw several Makak monkeys. When we got to the next spot, we were an hour early so we ate lunch. Once we were done with lunch we were parked so we were about five feet away from the beginning of the forest. When we were done with lunch we threw our left overs to some Makak monkeys we saw about five feet away. We played with them for a while. The OG Makak was named Tomas. Before we found the makaks, we found a really cool lizard about the size of your arm, his name was Sebastian. Then the second Makak to come we named Jackson. After a while we ended up with about 8 monkeys wanting us to throw them food. We couldn’t keep track of who was who anymore, the only ones we could tell who they were, were Sebastian and Tomas. We threw as much food as we thought the little guys could eat. The captain of our boat came up and threw my dad’s leftover fish (the bones, skin, and some meat) to Sebastian. Sebastian caught the carcass and ate it all in one bite. We kept throwing food to Sebastian till he dropped his food and went into the water to take a dip. One monkey, named Jank Face tried to take Sebastian’s stash while he was gone. As soon as Sebastian saw what was happening, he ran over and whipped the monkey in the face with his tail. No monkey was brave enough to ever come close to Sebastian again.
We got off our boat and went to our final Orangutan feeding ground. On the walk to the feeding area we saw a wild boar walking around. When we got to the feeding area we found that once the Orangutans were done with their bananas they would throw the peels down on the floor where the boar would come and eat it. While they ate, two brave animals came in to try to sneak out with some bananas. A squirrel and a Gibbon monkey tried to sneak some bananas. The squirrel came to the bananas and touched them then got spooked by an Orangutan. Next a Gibbon swung over from a tree and taunted a young orangutan. He would make the youngling orangutan follow him up a tree, but then he would climb higher than the Orangutan could and wait until the frustrated youngling would climb back down to his mom. Twice the Gibbon managed to steal bananas. He almost got it a third time but a baby Orangutan spooked him.
We got back to the boat and rested a bit so we would be able to do our night hike in the forest at ten. Once the time for the night hike came we got ready, ate dinner, then went on the hike. While we were on the hike we saw lots of cool beetles, a viper, and other crazy insects. One of the craziest things on the hike was that we kept hearing a low pitched whistle blowing. We asked what it was and Nina said it was a snail. They sit on the tree and make the noise with their shells. After the hike we returned to the boat and went to bed. The next morning we got up early, again around 8. so we could catch our 12 o’clock flight. We got to the dock we had started on, said goodbye to the crew and went on our way. We drove to the airport with Nina then checked our bags and said our goodbyes for now.