We wake up early, see a kingfisher and cruise down the river as we shower and brush our teeth over the side of the boat. All attempts at keeping civilised manners have gone out the window - literally. Today we make our way back through the camps again, stopping first at Bonok Tanggoi where orangutans were scarce but the forest full of interesting flowers and plants. We chilled out in the jungle a bit and then returned to the boat.
We then cruised downriver for a long lazy while to Tanjung Harapan village, opposite from the feeding station. This is a village in the middle of the jungle, cut off from all mainland civilisation. People live here quite nicely though - there is a little school, a little motorcycle repair shop and rice fields. The locals have lots of flowers and plants to decorate their gardens, rustic motorcycles to get around with and a little souvenir shop which I’m sure brings in some much needed cash to the community. I buy a bracelet.
There are beautiful children who respond well to chit-chat by an inquisitive traveller. My first reaction is to feel sorry for them, for having to endure all these tourists who come and scrutinise their village as if strolling through a museum, walking up and down their lanes in expensive clothes and lack of understanding of true hardship. On the other hand, I'm sure our visits have a positive impact on their lives as well. And I try to be as friendly as possible, and show them respect to the point where I think I’m trying to compensate for every inconsiderate traveller in the world.
We cross over to the first feeding station and spend our last couple of hours with five or six orangutans who stay around for a long while. Yanni, another large male, poses for pictures forever – he’s the jungle movie star. My lasting memory of this day though will be a baby orangutan, not more than 6-9 months, who clearly has just been given the go ahead from his mum to stand on his own two feet. Unfortunately, he has two left feet and arms that flail all over the place. In fact, his long arms swinging in itself makes him lose balance, and he wobbles from side to side like a drunk - yet in ultra-motion, as he has the energy of any little boy. When he swings between trees, he misses his connections and almost falls down on a few occasions. He’s amazing, I could watch him for hours.
After this the tour is over, but Isy has arranged for us to meet his larger boat half-way into to Kumai and spend the night on this instead – free of charge. This boat is awesome, it has two deck chairs with lots of pillows, lots of space and a bathroom at the back which is open to the night sky.
Not only that, Isy takes us to a place on the river that is rife with fireflies. It’s like being moored to a Christmas tree, and to top it off Isy collects them and puts them inside our mosquito nets until it looks like we have little circling stars in the nets. It’s an image I will remember for a long time –this old wooden boat, the deck chairs with the large cushions that seem like such a luxury now, the jungle reaching in through the sides of the boat and the fireflies, everywhere, lighting up the night. We sing and play the guitar, before we fall into a needed sleep.
Tomorrow we leave Borneo.