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...

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