Small Monkeys and Batu Putih – Fin

We got out of the bushes where the monkeys were, and drove a long the bigger red-earth road for about 10 minutes, even deeper to the forest. When suddenly I can see the sea. This was a weird sensation, I am pretty sure that when we to go in the reserve we had to go up a mountain. Mind boggling.

We got off the motorbike, he parked it by the abandoned house, with a well at the back. He said that this is the researcher’s hut, only occasionally lived in, only when they are following the animal.

He said he wanted to get some water out of the well, so I went to see the sea. The sand was volcanic black, the sun is low, near the horizon, there is a few local kids swimming and playing. Nothing else was there, and it was weirdly still.

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The ranger called and said that we better start moving otherwise it is going to be too dark to go to see the tarsius and go back to the entrance. I am not sure why, it looks like it was still daylight and bright to me. But we did anyway, we went on foot in the forest. This time it was around 1 hour walk. Although there is no clear marking and path, he seems certain as to where he is going. I had to ask whether he has ever been lost, he thought for a second and said no, never. I persisted and said ” Even at night?” he said “Yup even at night, I have got a flashlight with me”

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Although we were sheltered by the trees, it was hot and humid, I was sweating like crazy, whilst he didn’t seem to have broken a sweat.

I asked about the trees, he appears to know all of them. I wished I had brought a notepad and pencil, to write down everything. There were a lot of Banyan Trees or Willows, in Indonesian they share a name : Pohon Beringin. I only know them to be different because my knowledgeable ranger also mentioned their English and  sometime Latin name of the trees. I find it fascinating, because Banyan Trees are actually in the fig tree family whereas willows are in the salix family.

Then we found this. Wonderful and almost magical looking branch or root hanging of the trees. He said ” This is Liana root, it is really strong, I used to swing on it when I was a child, I think this is what Tarzan must have used in the stories. ” He then started to climb and use it as a spring and said ” Isn’t the name pretty, Liana?”

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He then continue along whilst telling me that there are different types of Lianas, there are ones that you can drink water from, and there are poisonous ones too.

There were so many things to pay attention to in the forest. I wished I had more time to stay. Check out this mushroom.

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As we climb up, I suddenly hear human noises, chattering, only a few, but other human. Then I saw a person, my ranger said hi to him, making me think that he is another ranger. We then came to this huge tree where I saw a couple of foreigners seems to be steadily taking pictures of. I thought I know it is a big tree but what is the fuss. Then my ranger said this is where they live the little tiny monkey Tarsius.

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I can’t tell you how big it is, I would say perhaps 6 – 7 metre in diametre, I am not sure I am bad with numbers. It also seems to be a tree inside a tree or a lot of aerial roots.

It was 5pm, apparently the tarsius as nocturnal animals, it usually goes out when it is dark, so I was so frightened to wake them up. But the ranger encouraged me to get into the tree, if I can – the other tourist struggles. So I did, and here it is, inside the tree there are a few I can see sitting and sleeping.

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But with my noisy camera woke them up. I feel so guilty, not to mention the photo turns out to be so dark because I didn’t want to use any flash to bother them even further.

imageI think it is hard from the pictures to see the perspective of both the trees and the tiny monkeys. But I can assure you the tree is huge and the monkeys are tiny, they seem to be able to fit in my hands.

My ranger said, that at night they can travel a distance but the tarsius usually go back to the same place. There are many other dwelling in the forest but this one is the one they show to visitors most. He said there is a family/group of 30 -40 in this tree. They travel by jumping on the floor of the forest apparently. Another interesting fact that Tarsiers are the only surviving species of primate that is entirely carnivorous. To me they look like a combination of ET and Gremlin, I think they might be alright with eating and multiply by procreating instead of jumping into water. haha.

They are obviously endangered. So I didn’t want to linger and bother them any longer. The ranger then guided me back through the forest to the motorbike. He said that there are Hornbills  and Sulawesi Bear Cuscus (Ailurops ursinus) around too, but they are too high up in the trees and the best time to see them would be really early in the morning. Did you know that Sulawesi Bear Cuscus are marsupial, it means that they are similar to Kangaroo and Koala, they carry their babies in a pouch. He did point one out at me but I didn’t bring any binocular or long lense camera. Highly recommended if you want to come here. He also said that in the reserve we can see maleo. I perked up, he then said but you need a whole day to reach where they are.

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On the way back on the motorbike the ranger asked me whether I have heard about the story of Batu Putih (the white stone/rock) which is what the village he lives in called and where the reserve is situated. I said no, why was it called Batu Putih. He said that a long time a go a village man found a really big white rock. He thought that it was so beautiful as it contrasted to the black beach of his village, he took it home and made the rock as a foundation of his porch. Then one by one his family member started to get ill and eventually died. The villagemen whose main source of food is the fish from the sea, seems to be unable to suddenly unable to find any fish in the sea, for months and months.

The village were suffering, until there was a visiting shaman. He said that there is an unusual rock that someone needs to remove from his house and return to the sea. The village man realised that it was the rock that he found a few months prior, he ran straight back to his house too the rock along with the shaman and a few other men, took it from the bottom of his house, carried it to the sea and threw it back in.

The really heavy white rock, suddenly was able to float, float against the coming tide in to the sea, like it was swimming. From then on they think that the rock must have been a spirit and they have ceremonies for the white rock in the village since then on, and called their village Batu Putih as an ode to the rock.

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We got back to the entrance after just 3 short hours in the forest of Tangkoko was extraordinary. I said goodbye and thank you to my ranger, then I said ‘I will definitely return one day, definitely for a longer stay, and perhaps I will see you again.’


I hope you enjoyed my adventure as I did. Have you ever had someone telling you a local folklore? Where and what? please share.