Jungle Bound

Trip Start Jan 20, 2005
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Trip End Nov 17, 2005


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Tuesday, February 1, 2005

An account of my month resarching bats in the jungle...

HELLLOOO again

Well ive been here for a month now, today i escaped from the jungle walked for 3 hrs got in the back of a truck for a while hopped on a bus then the monorail then got a hostel bed!!! But am extremely glad to've got here to KL!

Where to start, well i started at Kuala Ganda which is a lil village mostly for workers at the elephant sancturary which is based there, i took part in activies of feeding and riding which was cool. Elephants are THE weirdest animals you really have to get up close to one so wierd. We have a guest house at KG where we can stay its pretty basic but its a house. We bought some food and some porters to help us carry it into the jungle the camp is quite far away. The cafe wasnt open so in the morning we had to get our 20kg rucksacks on and walk 4 hours without water (until we came to a river) to the camp i can tell you it was one of the hardest treks ive done. i think in the end i drank about 8 litres of water, its hot.

So get to Kuala Seolor which is the camp, its just some basic structures like benches and tables in a clearing. Put me hammock up with mossy net, the area is really nice by a river and wildlife and nature is everywhere!

I'll tell you my usual routine

7:30 get up usually aftter not sleeping much in my hammock
7:30-8:15 - clean teeth and generally have "breakfast" which is Rice and fish yes very breakfasty.
8:15-10 Go out in the 1 km2 grid to check the harp traps which catch the bats, they are hard to describe so i wont bother. We collect the bats, the recaptures are noted down there and then, the new bats we all sit down and process. First which species it is, then male/female, adult etc, weight and fore arm length (yes bats have a forearm) then a wing punch is taken for DNA testing back in the uk and a wingband is put on. The bat is then released. We do this at 13 trap sites.

If there are traps to be mended we do that and it takes a couple more hours but this isnt usual.

So back at camp at about 10-30-11 and then nothing. absolutly nothing. until either 8:30 or 10 \ at night depending on whos turn it is to do the night bats. So i amuse myself going on walks taking photos, walking up and down stream reading books (just finished Birdsong very good) actually my rationed book reading is what i enjoy most. Or i atempt to carve something out of wood which hasnt really worked so far.

Other than that we eat dinner (fish and rice) then tea (fish and rice) then supper (fish and rice) ok occasionally we have a veg or beef option but very rarley. i am sick of fish especailly mackrel which i hate with a passion i have incredible longings for spagetti bolognase or a donner kebeb!!!

"I tell people ive been to Paradise, but Lazeeza's better" - old Longsight proverb

I also talk to my placement partner Trevor when hes talking to me which isnt often. Other than that i live with an Indonesian masters student whos our leader and 4 Orang-Asli who are the tribe people in the jungle they dont speak english but i have taught them how to make rice pudding.

And i listen to the radio with is a bit god sent really its great although music looses its appeal after a few hours. Especially with malaysian adverts about how to save time and how to help blind people.

The malaysian news is crap, is extemely government controlled and usually the headlines are: The Prime Minister has said something about how malaysians should live and Beckham isnt to be dropped from captaining England. Really those are usually the headlines.

Oh at night time if its my turn at 8:30 we go out into the jungle with our head torches to collect the bats, recaptured are noted and set free whereas the others are taken back to camp to be processed in the "lab" (a bench) this is done at 10pm and takes 30mins-1hr the bats are relased the following day. Walking in the jungle at night on your own is an experiance (i dont do the bats on my own just walk to the correct coords) even in day time you cant see more than 3 meters either way at night you can see a mess of grey as strands of the bright moon fight their way through the canopy. I have heard nosies of big animals like wild boar and that kind of sets your heart racing i hid behind a tree once. Other than that you walk in a trance, it takes about 30-45 mins to get to the coordinates and it is still very hot and humid at night, i usually drink 1.5 litres on each outing although this is getting less.

Leeches were bad when we fist got there but because it hasnt really rained since i got to malaysia theyve all but dissappeared ive not had one for over a week which is nice.

Its lovely in the day time to just sit in the river in the sun and watch the dragonflies.

This is a bit messed up but im trying to get all the info in.

When i got there i almost immediatly got travelers dioreeah which means i felt ill and i had alot of diorreeah i missed a few morning outings because of diorreeah and your appititre goes to nothing and all your being offered is fish and rice you really loose weight! it really works! 20% of americans swear by it so you you need to loose weight start now! get travelers diorreah from our handy sachey, hire 4 orang-asli to cook you rice and fish and away you go, the punds will soon fly off!!!

Yeh so it wasnt pleasant. We had a couple of days off and so went to KG and sat around for a few days which was good for me cos i was ill. i asked Trevor to get me some anti biotics but all the pharamcies in KL were shut. poo. So when it came to walking back again i had to carry Rachmeds 5kg rice which put my bag to about 8kg and i had to do the 12km walk back to camp having not eaten for 5 days (i did eat a bit but i threw it up) and this WAS the hardest trek ive ever done i felt sooooo bad and exhaused at each resting place i collapsed but had to keep on moving with the other 2 (Rachmed and Trevor) who wernt too helpful.

But i got back, now the traps hadnt been set as intended so i was told there was nothing to do in the morning, so i slept in, but rachmed and Trevor went on at 9am when i was in bed to fix the harp traps, when they got back i told rachmed he shouldve woken me, he said ok but thought i might still be ill. Trevor decided that what id done was terrible and so didnt talk to me for 2 days as punishment. We dont get on i really dont understand this guy, this was the start of the problems.

Eventually after i kept on asking him questions and i went out in mornings cos i was better (still had diorreah but thats ongoing) and he cam round to talking to me.

For the next few days we got on fine and it was good.

But then...last thursday actually whilst in the "lab" i was proceesing a bat when it bit me out of instinciveness i moved my hand and the bat flew away. oh dear. This was the second time this had happend to me. Rachmed wasnt happy and lost his temper with me saying i just looked bored and maybe th eplacement wasnt for me, i said sorry and that id try and not let it happen again. When things had calmed down Rachmed said sorry to me a couple of times and that it was probably his fault because he hand taught me how to handle them propperly yet, so i went to bed. In the morning Rachmed was trying to be nice to me because of the events of the preivous night, i responded like nowt had happened and we got on fine. TREVOR however has decided this is the last straw and hasnt talked to me since. go figure.


ANYWAY after 10 solid days in the jungle im reading more of the bible because there isnt anything else to do (ha) and trying to catch fish with a spear which doesnt work. The Orang-asli catch many fish for us and to be honest the river fish is quite nice. On the odd occasion they catch a mouse deer (small deer ha ) and skin it and then we have a VERY fresh mouse deer curry..........with rice. I also make rice pudding and porridge for special occasions, having lernt how to make rice pudding only my watching me mum n grandma make it i thought it was quite an achevment and it was very nice and everyon liked it.

Today, the 14th ive been waiting for a long time, yesterday i asked rachmed if we were going out at the usual time (cos we had to do the bats before leaving camp) and he said yes. So i went to bed, when i got up they'd gone, i was quite angry. So i practually ran out of the jungle doing what had before taken 4 hours in about 2.5 (although with less weight) and went to find a way out of KG.

Now im at KL i've rung Ann our placement supervisor and im meeting her 2moro morning to tell her im unhappy with my placment and id like another.

Reasons:
10 hours a day nothing time ( i came here to work not for a course on "how to make myself amused" which im quite good at anyway.

The work can be easily done by 2 people not 3, theres little point me being there.

Trevor my placment partner and 1 of 2 people who speak english at the camp irrationally hates me and wont speak to me.

Ive done the jungle bit for the month which is the hardest part of the bat placement so its all down hill really from here sleeping in villages n stuff.

there are more but ive forgoten, on the down side the national geographic channel was coming to do a documentry on the work in april, along with Tigga (the main boss) and earthwatch people who are just people. but that would only be for 2 weeks and i wouldnt survive till april.

Jonny
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