Saturday, 14 August 2010

Pulau Dua Bird Sanctuary

This week at work was a little stressful. I've only got about 3 weeks until I head off into the jungle on the westernmost tip of Java. That means that I have limited myself to a couple of day trips this month. Until today, I hadn't left Jakarta for over a month. I actually haven't let the stress of work or the humdrum of the city get to me this month but I still thought it would be a nice to get away on a daytrip somewhere. Of course the usual everyday bollocks of being a teacher was present - I taught paint by numbers with a bunch of 4-6 year olds yesterday - but I'm quite upbeat about the near future at the moment!

I was woken up early this morning by our maid Ipon because my flatmate had locked her out of the house! It was actually a good thing that she was banging on the door at 8am because it got me out of bed, which is no mean feat at the moment! So after a quick shower I ran to the shop – not literally – and clambered myself to the ojek stop to get a lift to the bus terminal. The journey was pretty sound, and by Uk standards a bit of a ballache, but by Indonesian standards it went swimmingly! I was in Sawaluher village on the trail to Pulau Dua Bird Sanctuary by about 12pm...

Once I was on the trail, which is only about two kilometres long, I got lost! It is a maze of fish ponds and mounds that interconnect and the disconnect. It was a nice walk though, I just had no idea where I was going! In the village they just told me to head for the trees, which I did, but I had strayed from the easily marked track almost as soon as I started walking it! The closer I thought I was getting to the trees on the horizon the softer the mud and the more mounds started turning into heaps of soft clay. I slipped a few times and by the time I found a farmer to help me I was covered half way to my knees in clay! After being helped over a few ponds using small bamboo 'bridges' I was lead to the ranger post at the bird sanctuary. It was really nice of the farmer to help me and I love the casual hospitality that is shown in the countryside of West Java.

Once I had arrived at the ranger post, the elderly ranger that was on duty ordered me to clean my legs in the sea. After the swift bollocking for being dirty he offered to walk me through the sanctuary and show me some of the resident bird species. He also reminded me that peak season for the sanctuary was over. We were accompanied on the walk around the sanctuary by his six year old grandson, who was infinitely better at negotiating his way through the coastal savannah than I was! It was quite a nice walk and I saw loads of birds. They are difficult to get photos of though as they tend to spot you way before you've noticed they are there. I managed to snap what I think is a heron... I did get an expansive summary of the species but my limited Indonesian prevented me from understanding the specifics of what he was saying. It was a really nice way to spend a Saturday and escape the urban-intensity of Jakarta and a good way of practising and hopefully advancing by Indonesian language skills. Although I'm far from fluent, I'm quite pleased that I managed to function adequately without the comfort of people speaking English which is prevalent in Jakarta. I always receive compliments about my Indonesian language skill by the locals in the places that I visit in West Java, but they tend to be impressed with anything that isn't a greeting...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Counting down to my holidays!

The last few weeks have felt pretty surreal and I'm not really sure why. Sufficed to say we've welcomed a new teacher to the school and said goodbye to another. Morale at work has been pretty good recently despite a lot of fuck-ups with classes and materials and whatever else on the part of the school... I've refrained from ranting about them for the last few weeks because I've been really trying to project happy vibes. There has also been a little problem with some of my flights for my holidays and I'm still waiting to get a refund for a set of flights... but hey ho it'll work out I'm sure.

I have been spending a few of my weekends in Jakarta for the last few weeks or so as my last trip away was pretty stressful with all the traffic and tourists. I do plan to vmake a couple of day trips to places that are fairly local to Jakarta just to get away for a little bit.

This is more of an update of how I'm getting on at the school and what has happened fairly recently. I was joking with a 4 year-old during my small stars class on Monday and have the usual banter if being loud and blowing raspberries to make the kids laugh... I'm used to the usual "Mr you crazy!" but in response to a jibe about being a 'stinkypants' one of the brighter students in the class - bear in mind that she is still 4 years old - decided to tell that I looked like a fat Mr. Bean!... I couldn't really come back from that :( I got blown out by a 4 year old girl named Lovica! Another little classroom nugget occurred last week that amused me quite a bit was when - in a lesson about stress - a 17 year old lad decided that the most stressful situation he could think of was needing to poo and not being able to find a toilet! While that is pretty stressful, it wasn't really the conventional answer that I was expecting!

I'm also quite upbeat at the moment because as of next month I'll be going on a holiday practically every month! I'm starting with a week in the jungle in West Java in Ujung Kulon National Park; then I'm heading to North Sumatra to go elephant and orangutan trekking, to climb a volcano and see some traditional villages and also to see the largest volcanic lake on the planet Lake Toba; I'm going to Lombok in November to trek around the crater lake on Mount Rinjani and then chill out snorkelling on the Gili Islands for a few days; and after all that I'm going to spend Christmas and New Year in Central Java looking at some temples and climbing Mount Lawu and then trekking around the Dieng Plateau!... I'm pretty excited as that is really going to break the next 6 months up quite nicely!...