RSS

Tag Archives: monkey

Diving, diving, diving…

Have been in Thailand for a week now and am loving it. Love the sounds of the birds and insects (except the mosquitoes) all day and all night, the frogs pretty much put on a rock concert after the sun goes down. I forgot how much I missed that living in Oregon.

I usually get to the shop around 7am and start helping get gear set up and sorted. I asked one of the instructors, Andy from Germany with years and years of experience in almost all realms of diving, what he suspected was wrong with my camera. He reckons it might be the moisture as anything electronic doesn’t survive long in the humidity. His suggestion was to buy a bag of rice and stick it inside, try and suck out the moisture and see if there is an improvement.

However, another friend in Australia who does underwater photography fears that it might have been the pressure in the airplane when I checked the camera in my bag, and the sensor might be shot. Mmmmmmm, what to do. Just have to wait and see.

Kittens

When I arrived Momma cat had a litter of 4 kittens about a week old and now they are almost qualifying as real cats. Momma has brought them down from her hiding place and they are super cute, endless entertainment as you watch them learn and grow.

Ginger and Spot

Ginger and Spot

Shy girl peeping from behind.

Shy girl peeping from behind.

Momma Cat, note her left eye it is blue and brown.

Momma Cat, note her left eye it is blue and brown.

Diving With Gem

Gem is a Thai instructor at the shop and I got to dive with her and a student doing his open water course. Gem insisted that I cut my weights down and by the 2nd dive I had gone from 6.4 to 3.2Kg. I realised that diving in cold water you tend to control your bouyancy with your BCD (the jacket that inflates) vs your breathing like you do in warm water. It is a whole new set of skills to learn.

She also has impeccable hand signals, very clear and precise, will have to try pick up some tips from her in that regard.

As we were going down the float line we saw a whale shark, incredible as always! Later nearer the end of the dive we heard a very excited diver making noises, and turned to see another whale shark in the distance. It’s almost as awe inspiring to see them at a distance as it is to see them up close.

On the second dive I literally looked a whale shark in the eye, time seemed to slow and I felt captivated by what ever intelligence there was in there. The spell was broken when I was kind of muscled out of the way by another diver trying to follow it. Seeing whale sharks tends to make certain folks oblivious to everyone else. Unfortunately our student was low on air and we had to surface so we weren’t able to follow him.

Coconuts and Monkeys

Back at the shop I got a fright when coconuts started dropping from the trees. John said that the monkey was up there picking the ripe ones. I was about to tell him it’s not nice to say something like that just because a guy can climb a coconut palm, when I looked up…

monkey picking coconuts

monkey picking coconuts

The trainer

The trainer

Apparently, monkeys are trained to climb up and pick ripe coconuts which are then taken away and sold or used. It certainly is a great way of preventing more coconut related injuries, they are really quite hazardous to your health unless mixed with alcohol…

Driving…kind of

Managed to putt-a-putt to the 7-11 about a minute down the road for everyone else, about 3min for me. Am starting to get the hang of the bike and might even have some freedom at some point. Woohoo!

After packing my bags I went for a shower and nearly had a heart attack as I discovered I had a shower mate, who seemed to want to hang out and watch.

Shower mate, about 30cm/1ft long

Shower mate, about 30cm/1ft long

and soooo handsome!

and soooo handsome!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Thailand, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last Day….

30th November 2011

The Dilemma of Laundry

Yesterday we didn’t do much as we were both quite exhausted from the trip. But since I was leaving soon I needed to get some laundry done. Also, since Buddha had been crashing at the hotel and not been home to his mother’s for over a week, we did his laundry too. I put in a rush order for his and paid the extra, due to the fact that he was stuck in his room with just the sheet… His would be done by 10am. However, the Nepali power company had other ideas and promptly switched off the power for 4hrs.. We had no idea when he would be able to make an appearance and he did threaten at one point to come down toga style.

In the meant time I ran some errands and had the cook, Robin, taught me how to make the amazing potato hashbrowns I had become addicted to every morning. I would order the expensive, $3, breakfast just to get the potatoes. Turned out it was tumeric that was the secret. I took some up to Buddha so he could at least eat something while secluded in his prison.

Around 2pm the laundry appeared much to our relief. Yogi, the hotel owner, took us across the road to a clothing factory where he knew the owner. I picked up a jacket, skirt and some funky harem pants. That afternoon we went back to visit Buddha’s friend and owner of the Facebook restaurant and had momo’s and tea. Then Buddha met up with Yogi to go to a Tourism Conference and I returned to packing and sorting… I think I will need to buy another bag!

My Last Day…

It feels like I have been here for so long and now it is my last day. For those of you who hadn’t guessed by now, Buddha and I had become very close in these 3weeks and our friendship had grown into something a bit more… It will be very hard to leave!

But until the moment actually comes, there are errands to run, bags to pack and one more trip to monkey temple.

We made a run to the mall to pick up a few more DVD’s for Buddha and he noticed a guy doing henna tattoos. He remembered that I had had one when I arrived from Malaysia and that I had mentioned I wanted to get another done before I left (sometimes it amazes me that he remembers these things). So encouraged me to get one done and haggled with the guy till he gave me a decent price.

Henna

Choices

Errand 1

I had bought a tapestry the day before and had bargained the guy to a decent price, but upon return to the room I realised there was a flaw.

The FLAW…

I didn’t feel like dealing with the guy on my own so had asked Buddha to come with me. While we waited for him I noticed a bag I might need to pack all my stuff, it was a backpack with wheels and cost around $35, not too shabby. We decided to first have me pack and see if I really needed it.

Finally the guy showed up and after some haggling realised that there was nothing much he could do as there wasn’t another of that size and the one that was there had a bigger flaw. I decided I could fix it as it was awfully perrty.

Errand 2

Spice shopping with Robin, the cook at Hotel Silver Home. I particularly wanted the spice he used for his hashbrown like fried potatoes. It took a bit of a search but we eventually found it and also some different kinds of masala for curry.

Spices!

Errand 3

After the spices the plan was to go meet a friend of Buddha’s from the ship whose sister owned a pashmina store. Now, after weeks of him prank calling me (one of his favorite past times), he had been trying to reach me for real as his friend was waiting and I was off exploring the land of spices… cooking that is. When I got back he had got a little exasperated (which is not a lot in most people’s books as he is so laid back). But we weren’t too late and we were soon our way off to meet up with him. The factory was on the same property as a very imperssive house. However, it cracks me up how houses are built, as often you end up blocking light and views of your neighbors.

Their house is the white one on the right

I was fairly certain I could pick up some pashmina cheap cheap having an inside contact, I was thinking maybe $10, $15 max… Ummmm yeah not so much.

They owned a factory who had a deal with Rolex, every time someone bought a watch they got a pashmina, so you can imagine the quality. It was fabulous, felt like cloth water and the cheapest price was $35 for a small one. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on something I would never wear (most likely out of fear of ruining it). Please note they did offer me a fantastic discount, but being at the end of my budget I just couldn’t. The joys of a backpacker budget…

Errand 4

Finally it was time to say farewell to the monkeys and temple who had brought Buddha and I together. It was bitter sweet walking through the temple knowing I may never be back to feed them again. I even recognized a few and I swear there was some recognition back, at least that is what I am going with, it might have had something to do with the cookies. I will really miss the dogs there, I definitely knew a lot of them and was on the verge of naming a few.

Buddha’s friends joined us and so we were able to get some pictures, I think putting them up is the best way to show you all:

Troop 1

Pack 1

My Favorite in Pack 1

This Day Buddha got on Film

Mobbed by his fans, Buddha stays Cool and Collected

This Little Guy Figured Out the Source

He Was Quite Content to Stay as Long as the Cookie Supply Lasted

Moments Before He had a Cookie in Each Hand and THREE in His Mouth

A Moment to Treasure

Soon the Monkey on my Shoulder Discovered the Cookie Source

The Monkey Whisperer???

No Words…

Here is a short video of Buddha feeding his minions and the temple. I will miss these outings more than I can say!

Finally we had to leave and return to the hotel as we had dinner plans. First I popped over and bought a yak wool blanket and some of the cheaper (not pure) pashminas and the extra bag. Then we headed to the tongba place for dinner and one last round. On the way we stopped at one of the street side snack vendors. they have tubs of popcorn, peanuts, corn nut like things etc and dish them into a little paper cone for you to enjoy. I had never had any as you fear for your stomach, but Buddha has a way of showing me new things, and I wish I had got this yummies from the first day and trusted my African constitution to stand by me.

Snack Vendor

Namiko from Japan joined us along with Yogi and Raj. It was a great night, and I am going to miss the boys all terribly.

Buddha, Yogi and Raj

The Crew

And so back to the hotel, up the four flights of stairs for the last night. It is bitter sweet and I can’t believe this section is over, that I will be leaving some amazing people and that my journey is just one country from its end…

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Visiting Facebook…

19th November 2011

Competition Results

We received the competition results with Buddha no where in the top 3. Turns out top 1 and 2 went to students of the bartender school who hosted the event, and also 2 of the competitors who got the most critics from the judges. We all agreed the competition had been fixed from the start, which just made us angry that it had happened. Oh well what ya gonna do… I know go sightseeing and eat!!!

Temples and Shrines

After breakfast we headed out to a small temple on the edge of Kathmandu, Shree Budhanilkatnha Bishnu Bhagwan, a holy Hindu site. The tale goes that many years ago when this area was still farmland, a local farmer dug into his field and discovered a life size statue of Lord Vishnu in repose on a bed of giant serpents. It quickly became a holy site and devotees from all around visit it. Since it is a Hindu site, no photographs are allowed, no leather materials may enter the site and no videos may be taken. Only those of the Hindu faith may enter the gated area surrounding the statue. In comparison to Buddhist sites where everyone is welcome and photos are accepted.

Lord Vishnu, courtesy of Jasmine Strings Blog

The Mall – how else do you spend a saturday

After exploring the shrine we headed for some lounge around time at the mall. It always astounds me to walk in from crowded, noisy, polluted streets into a shopping mall mirroring those found in the Western world. It does make for some great people watching. We had tea with Buddha’s friend who owns a store, watched my first 6D (didn’t even know that existed) film. Or rather 4 shorts in 3D, moving chairs, and air blowing with the occasional brush against your leg. It was hilarious, and Buddha delighted in scaring me during the scary short by grabbing onto me now and then.

Monkey Temple routine

Then it was off to continue what had become an evening tradition, feeding the monkeys. I wished we could bring fruit or rice or something like that vs cookies, but carrying bags of cooked rice or fruit on a motorbike was just not feasible, so cookies it is. We pulled up to our local vendor window where the lady had got to know our routine and started getting the 20 packets ready before we were even off the bike. Finally it was time to reunite with some old friends…

Some of them are almost polite


Checking to see if he has space for one more


Do you think he gets training to look this cute??

A sad truth

As we walked through the temple looking for the different tribes of monkeys that seem to have very well defined territories we came across an old woman lying prone on the ground to the side of the path. Her skin was bloated and her stomach distended. Buddha explained she was most likely a poor person who had come from India seeking a better life and had fallen ill. He encouraged me to give a little something and some of the cookies. He is always careful not to let me just give money away unless he believes the person truly needs it. It is so sad to see things like this and not be able to help in more ways… a sad truth in every country, whether its a westernized world with the best health care or a developing country with barely enough doctors.

Off to Facebook

As the sun began to set we headed off to another of his friends restaurants, named Facebook, offering a range of Nepali foods. The first time I ate here the dal baht (traditional meal with rice and curry sides) was too hot for me. So this time I stuck to something simple and fried… always good. We chatted with a couple of his friends from the cruise ship who were having a late lunch and one of them mentioned he had a sister who owned a pashmina factory and he could take me there some time if I liked. Always handy knowledge to have.

Sauna time

After my long trip and all the motorbike riding Buddha had been doing we looked for a place to have a sauna. The first place seemed very fancy but unfortunately their saunas were segregated. So we headed into the tourist section of Thamel and found another place. Luckily we were the only 2 sitting there wrapped in our towels, it might have felt weird with strangers. We had a choice between a hot steam or dry sauna and took turns in each. Then some hot noodley soup before saying goodnight.

Tomorrow we are off to explore a monastery almost 2hrs outside of Kathmandu… hope my butt can survive a bike ride that long!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tena to AmaZoonico: Days 27 to 31 – Week 1 Jungle Time

Feb 1st – 5th, 2011

Getting there
At the appointed time on the appointed day I headed out to find my bus. Turned out to take me a lot quicker than I had thought and gave me a 40min wait till departure. When the bus arrived I jumped in and was thrilled to see that I could get the seats at the door, what a score, air and I can see where I was going. 5minutes later I noticed two very confused looking Ecuadorians behind me looking at their tickets. What do you know, we have assigned seats! I apologised profusely and made my way near the back to seat 18 aisle. no air and no way of seeing where I was going. Well I waited and sweated a young boy came through selling some kind of frozen popsicle, the best 10cents I ever spent!

Baby Monkey
Surprisingly the bus left at precisely 2.30pm and we were soon on our way at top speed (which I think is the only speed). I had seen a few people with boxes of chicks getting on the bus and was not surprised by the cheeping sound coming from the family next to me. I did feel sorry for the poor, strange looking black chick that the young boy had a vice like grip on. It was particularly strange that it appeared to have a long tail… I then realised it was not a chick at all but a baby monkey.
The family saw my reaction and let me hold it, for the entire bus ride. He was tiny, barely the size of my palm, it sounded like he was only 15 days old and his eyes were just open. He clung to me and made cheeping sounds looking for safety.

I have since found out that it is a Chichico monkey or Tamarin monkey. They are the 2nd smallest monkies in South America. This was a Saddleback Tamarin. Black with a white moustache. Too cute and so in need of its mother and mothers milk. At one point it made its way up my shoulder and under my hair where it clung to me for dear life.

As the trip progressed I tried to convince the family to let me take the baby to the refuge with me, but through broken Spanish I was able to get from them that it was their sons pet and they couldn’t take it away from him… $30! Number 1 I didnt want to encourage the selling of wildlife and 2 I didnt have $30 on me. So unfortunately at the designated sign of Puerto Rio Barantilla I had to return the poor thing back to the family knowing, full well, that it would unlikely survive. A very sad start to my volunteering. I wish I could have done more.

Arrival
Moving on to happier topics, I found the very big sign announcing I was at the location, went through the big metal gates and down the bank to the left to find my canoe…not waiting there for me.

Mmmm what to do, sit and wait was all I could think of. It was quite pleasant at the river but after 15min I started getting concerned.

Then low and behold a canoe appeared, woohoo, I grabbed my bag and set off to the waters edge, just as the canoe pulled up, the kids got out and told me they were off duty. Ok then guess thats not my canoe! As they were walking away another canoe appeared coming from the opposite direction and they pointed at that one. Ok then here we go this must be my canoe, I shouted : AmaZoonico: and they stared at me as they motored past… But luckily there seemed to be mutual agreement that the gringo (foreigner) looked quite pathetic and they came and picked me up. This wasnt the tourist canoe but a work canoe and no one jumped out to help me put my bags in. Eventually one realized they might be there forever if they left it up to me and took one of them. Then we were motoring down the river, me balanced precariously on the edge of the boat (it was full of bamboo so nowhere to sit).

When I arrived at the “dock” to AmaZoonico I was met by one of the long term volunteers. Pascal is from Germany and has been here for almost 6mths, he will stay for a year. He showed me to my room and gave me a debriefing in the kitchen. When he handed me the keys he said the short one was for the kitchen the other for the bar/curio shop (it took me over a week to realise the key lengths were the same but very tops of the keys were different lengths). When he gave me my sheets, stating “I think they are clean”, that was the end of the briefing and I left to settle in my room a little bewildered. My roommate is Karyn from Germany and is very quiet but has a lovely personality and is a very hard worker. She will leave in 2 weeks.

I wasn’t feeling so well and by the time dinner arrived I had a splitting headache and had already thrown up once. By the time I went to bed, unable to eat the pizza they had made, I had thrown up twice more. Brought on by dehydration with a touch of stress added into it.

Day 1
Waking at 6am, feeling much better, I got dressed and wondered what to do. There was some fresh bread for breakfast and someone gave me some jam (we have personal stashes of food that become very important). Then I went upstairs (a total of 75) looking for Celine (France) who had already gone upstairs to start.

Finally finding her she showed me where the Bodega (food prep room) was and had me start cutting up choritos (small bananas) and platanas (plantains). It was all very confusing and there was no set system really. To start off I was following “Big Tour”, what a way to start, you have at least 6 buckets full of food (which is difficult when there is only 2 of you, luckily with me there was 3), and you walk the majority of the loop through the refuge, up and down numerous stairs. My biggest problem (other than the weight of the buckets) was that due to my height the buckets kept hitting the stairs as I walked, needless to say I have an array of interesting bruises.

Big Tour includes:
-Peccaries (wild pigs) that get lots of yucca
-Aves 2 (bird cage with macaws and parrots) that get lots of fruit. One of the macaws tried to redo my hair with its beak.
-Kinkajou cage 1 involves cleaning in the morning, food in the afternoon
-Jaguarundi (a feline that can jump 4m to catch a bird) feed meat and clean cage
-Kinkajou and agouti cage – clean and feed
-Pond – feed tilapia and turtles
-Capucin monkeys – clean and feed while they yell insults at you
-Ocelot cage (felines) – walk to check perimeter and check electric fencing in the morning, lob pieces of meat over fence in the afternoon.

All very exhausting at the end of it and in the heat and humidity even more so.

Our day lasts from 7am till 5pm, there is a lunch at noon, but we have to stay up in the general area in case a tour comes in. This makes for a very long day in sweaty, dirty clothes trying to avoid being bitten by the sand flies. But all in all its great fun.

Day 2
On big tour again, new people do each tour at least 2 days in a row. Today was also “bebidas”, which means we have to take the empty bottles down to the canoe in preparation for new drinks arriving the next day. This is exhausting work, going up and down stairs with cases of empty bottles. At least I thought so until it was up and down with cases of full bottles.

Beata
Today I managed much better and dare say, may even be getting used to the heat a little. It was much like yesterday with chopping of fruit, cleaning of cages and feeding of animals. I did get to meet Beata, a spider monkey that lives at the center. It was quite a memorable introduction as she managed to get into the kitchen and we had to try get her out before she got into the food. She has an injury or deformity and is so used to humans that she will never be released, so she lives with us here. But it is very important that we don’t hand feed her or try and get her to sit with us, in fact we have to discourage her seeking attention as much as possible as it could cause potential problems with tourists.

Strings
I have hit a popular note with the volunteers due to my strings and making of bracelets (thank you hippies in Coffee Bay, South Africa, who taught me). I am even making some to donate to the shop to sell for the center. When I pulled them out I immediately had numerous orders and after a week am still trying to catch up on everyones. I even sold a couple of my fancier ones ($5 plus a bar of chocolate) to them.

Day 3 (the dreaded thursday)
On thursdays and mondays we have fruit delivery. This means lugging huge bunches of bananas, platanas, bags of papayas (pawpaws) and a variety of other fruit from the canoes to the Bodega and up the 75 stairs. My first attempt was a bunch of bananas and by the time I reached stair 68 I was seeing stars and battling to breathe. Toki (germany) luckily came along and grabbed it from me. I crumpled into a pile on and found myself shaking and crying. Note to self, start small. I managed another 2 trips with smaller bags of fruit and then focused on tidying the bodega.

Front Tour
It was also the day I started learning a new tour. Front tour is much shorter and has more variety. It includes:
– toucans – clean and feed avoiding the one that likes to bite your rubber boots
– Kinti and Tamien (baby woolly monkeys) need to have their enclosure cleaned and disinfected, all the time avoiding tamien who likes to pee on people
– Tamarin monkey is one of my favorites, she is super cute and does great acrobatics for you when you bring the food.
– Mono Loco (crazy monkey) is a capucin with rather severe mental issues and is kept alone, which doesn’t help his nervous behavior. We hope to neuter him and introduce him to the other capucin cage (we hope this will make him less aggressive)
– Barizo (squirrel monkey) – clean and feed, also super cute.
– Paca – walk up steep hill and throw food in, we are not sure if he is there but something eats it so we feed.

Day 4
Am very excited as I get to go to Tena today, but first I have to survive another front tour and today is also Comida (human food delivery). Another day of lugging heavy, bulky things up the stairs from the boats up to the kitchen, really wish there was another way.

Tena
I was told I could leave at 3.30pm and get ready and the canoe would pick us up at 4.15pm. I got down and the others going said it would be there at 3.45pm….ahhh communication issues. Tossed on clean clothes (no time to shower), grabbed my stuff and went to get the canoe. It came at 4pm (go figure). When we got to the bus stop there was virtually no traffic and no bus coming from the direction we needed so we started walking. After an hour and 3km (didn’t matter missing the shower anymore) we were finally able to hitchhike and squished the bunch of us with another family in the back of a tiny pickup. It sounded like there was road issues a way back and everyone was help up, so we were very lucky to get this guy.

As I have been told hitchhiking is very safe here and the biggest danger is being killed in a car accident. Considering the speed limit is a suggestion, and extra fast is the only way with the cars usually driving in the middle of the road and honking as they come around the bend, I once again became fairly religious. But we made it to Tena about the same time the bus would have got there had it been on time.

Dinner, shower, sleep
There was a major festival going on in Tena with loud party music and fireworks. But Karyn, who had joined me, and I were only concerned with dinner and then shower. Afterwards I skyped the parents and then, both exhausted we went to bed, my bed being hard as a rock and hers being soft as a feather, we both assume the top bunk must have been just right.

Errands
the next day we ran errands, picked up supplies, checked emails (I didn’t get a chance to update blogs unfortunatley), and general administrative stuff. Turns out the late night entry into our room was Sara (canada) our head volunteer. She headed back early that morning.
While we were in the store we bumped into Lukas (Holland) who had come to town for the day to pick up supplies. Later on we got our tickets for the bus, picked up our wonderfully clean laundry and hung out till it was time to leave.

Party all night long
When we returned on the bus we got to canoe point and discovered there was no canoe… this seems to be a trend. Victor who lives there and usually takes us back was no where to be found, luckily Lukas had a phone and called in an emergency pick up from Liana Lodge, much to our appreciation as we did not favor hacking through the bush to get to the center.
Tonight was a huge fairwell party for 3 of the volunteers, and the music blared until 3am. I was in bed at midnight. Another exhausting day over and new one starting in a few hours.

Stay tuned for next week!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: