Small Monkeys and Batu Putih 1
After our 3-hour drive from Manado, the driver, who at the beginning said he knows the way but then several times made the wrong turns, reversing and going back on ourselves, finally made a confident turn right to a small concrete bridge crossing an equally small river to Tangkoko Batu Angus Nature Reserve. He urged me to go in to little booth on the right to buy my ticket.
I want you to know that prior to the visit I asked the people at the resort on how to get there, what would be the best timing, and how much it costs. They said that I can either go really early or in the afternoon for a 3-hour tour, but the small monkeys are nocturnal and it is best to see them at dusk, in Indonesia it means between 4 and 6pm, when they starts to go out. They also said that to enter it will be IDR300,000 plus however much is the guide or ranger.
So when I went in to the little booth, a girl sitting by herself behind a desk with a few papers on top, without a single hello or welcome, asked in Indonesian “Are you Indonesian?” I responded yes in the same language. She said it is IDR75,000. Surprised, but thought it might be because I am local? I said how much would the guide be, maintaining her nonchalance she said “Ask outside”. I looked out the murky window from the booth, and saw a group of men sitting on top of their motor bikes looking like they are a bunch of Ojek driver , gathering under a self made bamboo tree covers. Looks slightly scary.
I braved my self and approached them, before I reached them, one of them, the younger one of the bunch came out with his motorbike and said “You have got your ticket?” I said yes, he then said “Hop on we will take the bike in”. I looked beyond the empty carpark and hesitated, thinking all sorts of things in my head – what? I am going alone in the tropical forest, with a man, how am I going to get out of this alive? I have never been in the forest…. I then blurted out “How much is it?” He said “It is included in the price of your ticket.” I sense that he saw the worry in my face ” Don’t worry, we are all licensed ranger here, I have done this so many time.” I then said to myself – Oh well, what ever happens, happens.
“Are you sure this is OK, wouldn’t we disturb the animal in the forest” I asked from the back of the motorbike, with the engine growling, struggling to go across the puddles and massive holes on the red dense earth. “Yes they are fine, we are only using this to go in, we have to leave the motorbike at the edges of the forest.”
We had a chat about what I am interested to see, why am I there by myself, he said that he is the head ranger there, he is from the local village, and his dad used to be a hunter in the forest, the forest is his roaming grounds since he is child. Maybe he was trying to re-assure my will-we-get-lost face, but I was just thinking in my head how it might be amazing, it sounded like one of those children of the forest books. The ones that they run around, hiding behind trees, climbing up the trees and sitting on the branches whilst obviously talking to animals.
Meanwhile, the forest gets denser, he stopped in a clearing, well it wasn’t really a clearing, it just looks like it might be one in the past. Now it is a field of tall grasses, with a small concrete derelict car park or some sort, that is overgrown by plants. My ranger then shouted across ‘ Where are they?’ I turned my head to look at where he was shouting at to find in the distance of what seems to be a man squatting, I can barely make him out if it wasn’t for his red t-shirt. The man shouted ‘ They are over there, carry on, they are on the crossroads between this tree and that tree.’ I couldn’t catch the tree names.
… to be continued
Hi everyone, I am trying a different style of writing, tell me what you think? More of a story than a factual reportage. Tell me honestly, I wouldn’t be offended if your critique has concrete grounds and helps my writing.