I went to a place called Ujung Genteng last month. It’s an awesome and remote place on the south coast of West Java where only very tourists make it. Among the great things to do there such as snorkelling, eating fresh fish and laying around is the possibility to see turtle hatchlings running down to the ocean. So I took a video as the sun set of those cute turtles. Check it out.
So last month I saw a Javan Slow Loris for sale on the side of the road outside of a big mall in Bandung, but at the time I didn’t know what it was. The locals just called it a cus-cus, but it’s not one of those. It’s an endangered Slow Loris which is a weird-looking and cute primate! Anyway, I found out because someone posted a comment on my youtube video.
When I was in Jakarta last week, I was curious to see if I could find more of these nifty little creatures, so I went to the Pramuka Bird Market otherwise known as Pasar Burung Pramuka. At first I was told that there aren’t any monkeys or lorises in the market as it was illegal to sell them. But all of a sudden a guy popped up and wanted to show me around. So he took me to what he claimed was the only slow loris in the market at the time — all the others had been bought. It was an incredible creature, but I really didn’t like the way they treated it. They held it by the back leg so it wouldn’t run away and generally treated it roughly. I got some great shots though. Check them out.
It’s illegal to buy or sell the slow lorises, but the law is no barrier in Indonesia. So they offered it to me for $100 and when I had a startled look on my face (I couldn’t believe it was that cheap!), he laughed hard and told me to negotiate. In other words, he was trying to rip me off by charging $100! I could have easily got it for $50, I’d say.
Elsewhere in the market there were eagles, civet cats and animals that were a cross between a cat and a dog and very cute. I would love to have one of those, but again the issue of them being ripped from the jungles of Indonesia is concerning.
Ever wanted a slow loris? What do you think? Cute or what?
Help! I know my regular reads probably won’t have the first clue about marsupials, but someone somewhere on the internet is a cuscus expert and will surely know what sort of cuscus this is and if it’s endangered or not. I saw it with another cuscus in a box for sale on the side of the road in Bandung the other day. Any ideas? Anyone?
I first visited Singapore a couple of years when doing a visa run from Bali which was part of a larger 4 month journey around southeast Asia. I guess the purpose of the visit had something to do with how I felt during my short stay in Singapore — that of a destination that I was simply there to transit through and not to explore with any great effort.
I left Singapore at that time thinking that it was the only non-Asian country in southeast Asia and far too expensive for a cheap-arse like me. I really didn’t like it.
When looking for flights to Indonesia for my current jaunt, I checked all the usual points of entry such as Bali, Jakarta, via Malaysia…and also Singapore. It just so happened that I got a really good deal on a ticket to Singapore from Melbourne — $200 for an 8 hour flight. So rather than skip straight through Singapore as my first instinct told me to do, I decided to hang around a little bit longer to do some walking, some eating and some animal watching. It turned out to be a fantastic experience helped by an Indophile friend I met on my first night, Judith.
I love walking. I especially like walking when I’m in a new place so that I can get my bearings and feel at ease. It’s also the best way, in my view, to get a feel for a place and to discover hidden treats. It’s often too easy to whip out a copy of the Lonely Planet and make a beeline to a restaurant or activity thereby passing all the cool stuff in between — like creepy alleys, culinary delights and my favourite — banal local life.
Around the harbour area there are some really cool things to see on the architectural front. My favourite is probably what is referred to as the ‘durian’. It’s real name is the Esplanade and it regularly hosts world class performing artists in its concert hall and theatre. Other buildings I loved were the Marina Bay Sands which charges $20 to get to the top op unless you are sneaky like me in which case you can as if you are staying there and use the internal elevators.
Singapore has always been known as a great food destination, but I never saw it on my first journey. This time I was determined to crack the nut that is the hawker centres where I’d read it was possible to get a good feed for under $3 which is good value in anyone’s language. Judith and I hit up the Old Airport Rd food hall for starters and it delievered the goods. I got myself a laksa with a massive dollop of sambal balancing precariously on the side. Needless to say I needed hardly any of it as it was spicy enough for me.
I also got around to a few hawker centres near Little India and they all dished up lovely food. The mainstays of most of these joints was chicken rice, prawn mee and miscellaneous crazy Chinese stuff that didn’t take my fancy. It truly is possible to eat great food on the cheap in Singapore.
Apart from walking around aimlessly, was there anything else I did? Why yes there was, as the sub-heading might suggest. Judith and I headed off to the Singapore Zoo. Being a fan of giving local transport a go, I indicated to Judith that I had the directions to the zoo all sorted out. After the first bus told us to get off in the middle of nowhere, we looked for a cab. Apparently there is some weird ‘no pickup’ rule in Singapore (one of about a billion rules that you can’t be expected to get a handle on) and we walked around a little like zombies (sans drool) until we managed to get to a bus stop (perhaps the same one that we were dumped off at). We jumped on another bus, jumped off it again just up the road and changed to the zoo bus. All in all, a silly decision by me to do public transport. For a few dollars more, it would have been better to get a direct tourist bus or even a cab.
The zoo itself is incredible. It’s easily the best zoo I have ever been to although that’s not really saying a whole lot since I’ve not been to that many. Top on my list of wishes was to see a mandrill. I did indeed see a couple of mandrills and that made my day. I think the mandrills, 80 hamadryas baboons and the jaguars were my faves. I think it’d be pretty easy to spend a full day there, but we breezed through quite quickly as Judith had a plane to Indonesia to catch. The next time I visit Singapore I wouldn’t mind doing a night safari which apparently goes from next door.
So all in all my visit to Singapore was a successful one. I stayed at the Inncrowd in Little India which truth be told was a little disappointing for the $15 price tag. 10 bed dorms, no decent spot to put your bag and a breakfast not worth bothering with. Free WiFi was nice, but who needs that nowadays anyway?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Singapore. Ever been? Want to go?
This is the second in a series of shameless posts with a lot of Bali photos. Click here for Bali Beaches & Food!
I think I’m getting the hang of this photo essay thing. Easy! Just chuck up a few photos with a bit of commentary and you have yourself a blog post! Might have to do more of it. Anyway, this one is about people and animals in Bali. Why are both people and animals in the same post? Some might say that I’m seeking to draw the viewer into recognising the commonalities between humans and other animals and begging for there to be a greater understanding of the plight of animals in Indonesia which are often deprived of even the most basic living conditions. Others might just say I didn’t have enough photos to do two separate posts. I have no comment.
I was inspecting a hotel near Lake Tamblingan when a man in the distance was motioning for me to come over. It was a little awkward, but he had the most glorious smile, warm spirit and wanted to shake my hand forever. We had a little chat in Indonesian and he then wanted me to take his photo. After snapping a few shots, I showed him the results and he thanked me profusely. Of course I felt humbled by the kindness of one of the most incredible spirits I’ve ever met.
Photography experts often talk about how people’s eyes are what make or break a portrait photo. Judging by this photo, the same can be said for all primates. This monkey was chained at an animal market in Denpasar and gave an incredible look of sorrow.
We can talk about warm spirits all we like, but it means nothing until you experience it. In Bali, there are many of these warm spirits – I met this man after he just hauled in a bunch of fish for his family from the local reef in Pemuteran. He was very humble, gracious and a little bit bemused as to why I would care to look at his fish!
Bali is overfished – to the point where protected reefs are now the target of fishermen in a bid to keep up with ever-increasing demand. To be fair to Bali, large portions of Indonesia are overfished and waters outside those of Indonesia’s own are now the target of fishermen. The array of fish on display at the fresh fish market in Jimbaran is bewildering and a great reminder that the fish you have for dinner may well have been a spectacular juvenile reef fish caught illegally.
These young boys were running amok as young boys normally do. Except in Bali, the world is your oyster with the freedom to roam around and get up to mischief without fear of speeding cars, the stranger next door or an overly critical community. These boys puffed out their chests when they saw my camera and galloped away to continue their reign of terror in no time at all.
Baby monkeys also have much freedom from an early age although their mothers keep a protective eye out for them at all times. It’s not unusual for a baby monkey to scratch around in the bushes while a dozen metres away its mother snacks on bananas stolen from panicked tourists. A great place to spot this sort of behaviour is the Ubud Monkey Forest, although it can be heavily touristed in the middle of the day. The Monkey Forest at Sangeh is also a spectacular setting for primate observation.
Man and beast work together to plough the fields near a guesthouse 7km from Amlapura. Many Balinese farmers still use old-fashioned techniques to plough their fields despite the explosion in motorised transport over the past two decades. Preparing a ricefield for planting is a multi-stage process that has not changed significantly over hundreds of years. Scenes like this are played out across the island and outside of the main tourist towns, it’s possible to have a room with views of glorious terraced ricefields such as this one.
An important aspect of preparing a ricefield for planting is allowing hundreds of ducks to forage in the muddy field for spilled rice and unwanted insects. During the process, ducks also add nutrients to the soil which is then mixed through during the ploughing process. I saw this duck chasing its friends across the sprawling fields immediately north of Ubud at the end of Jalan Kajeng – my favourite place to walk in Ubud.
These is no human counterpoint to this photo – this animal is pure evil. I think monkeys are cute, but they’re mischievous little critters that are entirely unpredictable. This particular cutie was fossicking in the shallows when I thought it’d be a splendid idea to take a few shots. Maybe I should have asked for permission first, but it took exception to the candid shots I was taking and charged me, teeth all over the place.
What a fantastic place Bali is. Ever been? Going soon? Want to go? Do you need more convincing?