I am starting this blog entry with this photo, as it is the only photo of any of us in a river tube. We had to protect the cameras to keep them from getting wet while we were in the river, so no other photos were taken while we were tubing.
This photo of me sitting beside the river was taken very early in the morning. I was the first one awake in the morning, because as soon as it was light enough to see I could safely go and use one of the “jungle tree” bathrooms behind our tent. Then I went down to sit beside river, as our campground was all wet and muddy from the overnight rain, but the river rocks were dry. Jeff was the next one up, and he came looking for me and then took the photo.
I had plenty of early morning company by the river. There were monkeys drinking and playing, and a large monitor lizard, swimming around.
Soon afterwards, Harmony came down and wrote and sketched in her notebook by the river. All three of us were awake long before our guides and cooks. They all had no trouble sleeping late!
We were in no hurry to get anywhere, as our schedule today was just to hang out at the river camp all morning, and then go tubing down the river back to Bukit Lawang around lunch time. In the photo below I am playing games on my iPad mini, and Harmony is writing in her sketchbook as we wait for breakfast to be cooked. There was no WiFi internet connection, but I still had some battery power left on my iPad. And we are both sitting on the black tarp inside the tent because the ground was still wet and muddy.
We saw our first Thomas monkey while we were waiting for breakfast. This monkey species is very rare; it is found only in northern Sumatra.
Breakfast was white bread toasted, with a fried egg, cheese, and tomatoes and cucumbers in layers between the toast.
At the same time, this monkey was posed on top of the clothesline in our campsite where our wet things were hanging to dry. He was ready to leap down and grab Harmony’s breakfast if she turned her attention away from it for even a minute!
After breakfast, our guide took us to a nearby waterfall and pool, where we could go swimming.
We all had a great time playing in the waterfall and swimming in the pool! The water was very refreshing-cool, but not cold.
After we got out of the water, Harmony told us that if we had jumped into a similar pool of water in the jungle in Borneo, we would have had leeches attached to us when we got out of the water. Our guide told us that there are very few leeches in Sumatra, so not to worry about them.
So there’s the trade-off if you want to take a jungle vacation in this part of the the world-bad roads (Sumatra), or leeches (Borneo).
After swimming and p[laying in the waterfall, we returned to our campsite to pack up our stuff and put it in plastic bags so it could go down the river in the tubes with us. We also had time for one last fruit snack.
Tubing down the river through the river rapids was fun! And a lot easier than hiking back through the jungle. It took us only about 40 minutes to get back to our guest house in Bukit Lawang. We were surprised to find that the town had come alive while we were gone. When we left, we were some of the only tourists in town, but when we returned, there were people everywhere! They were mostly locals, who had the day off from work and school because it was the Chinese New Year holiday. According to our guide. Indonesians get a lot of holidays; the Muslim holidays, the Christian holidays and also the Chinese holidays. I guess in their multicultural society, they need to celebrate them all (or at least get the day off.)
We likely looked a lot like the photo above when we went down the river. We were in four tubes tied together, with two people in each of the back three tubes, with our supplies tied between the tubes. Our guide Nijet was in the front tube steering us safely down the river around the many rocks that were sticking out. He did a pretty good job, although he did fall out when we went through one of the sets of rapids! Fortunately, he was able to climb right back into the tube, and nobody else fell out during the trip!
We checked back into our Bukit Lawang guest house; showered and cleaned up, and ate lunch. While we were eating lunch, some orangutans came down on the far side of the river. This made two of the other tourists eating lunch in the restaurant very happy, as they had gone trekking in the jungle the same day that we did, and only seen two orangutans all day. So we were very lucky to see so many orangutans, or we had a very good guide, or maybe both!
After lunch, we decide to explore the town. It had been dark when we walked through it before, so we had not seen much of it by flashlight. Below is a photo of the main street (and only street) in Bukit Lawang. A motorbike could go down it, but not a car.
We did some shopping in Bukit Lawang. Harmony got a t shirt and earrings, and I bought a necklace and earrings that were carved out of wood by a local artist.
There were many people carrying tubes up the street so the local tourists could float down the river.
There were a couple of bridges across the river in the town. This was the toll bridge; you had to pay 2,000 rupiah to cross it,
This was the free bridge across the river in the town of Bukit Lawang!
And yes, we did actually walk carefully across the river on this bridge! It did remind me of an Indiana Jones movie, as I carefully stepped over all the missing and broken planks high above the river!
Here is a photo looking at the lower half of the town of Bukit Lawang from across the river.
This photo is of a Thomas monkey and her baby, hanging off of a power line across the river in Bukit Lawang. She was just hanging there, watching all the people below.
Maybe she was on a “holiday” from her life in the jungle, and she wanted to show her baby some humans?
The baby does seem to be watching all the activity below! Jeff got some great pictures here with his zoom lens!
There were women and girls bringing washed laundry up from the riverbank in baskets balanced on their heads. Harmony checked for insect larvae under rocks in the river near our campsite to see if the river was healthy. She did not find any, so she said that it could be under stress from human usage. Maybe that is true, because we saw a lot of people using the river in various ways in the town.
There were lots of chickens in the town.
There were also goats.
On our way back to our guest house, we saw this game being played in a game court alongside of the street. It looked like three player volleyball, only they were not using their hands. they only hit the ball with their heads and feet, like soccer. It was fun to watch, but it did not look easy to play!
We had another great meal that night in Captain Cool’s restaurant. The dish on the left in front of Harmony was called a tacco. I ordered it because I was curious as to what it would be. It was filled with chicken and shredded cabbage and had a delicious deep fried outer crust. It was sort of like putting chinese dumpling filling inside of a chimichanga.
Although we were back in the same guest house that we had stayed in before we went on the jungle trek, the lights were no longer working. So it was candles and flashlights again on this evening, but at least I had a bathroom downstairs with a flushing toilet!