Month: January 2013

Snorkeling with turtles on Derawan Island

For the second part of our honeymoon trip we scheduled 7 nights on Derawan, a tiny island a couple of kilometers off the shore of Kalimantan. After the wonderful but exhausting hikes at Kutai NP, we wanted something laid back with not much action around. There is one village on Derawan with approximately a third of all houses transformed into guest houses or cottages for tourists. Since we stayed over the Christmas holidays, we booked a night in advance at the Sari Cottages. The cottage was nice, however, due to a big renovation of the place we changed the following

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A day in Samarinda

Between Kutai NP and Derawan island, we made a one day stop in Samarinda, the capital of East Kalimantan. We got the exit seats on the 5h bus ride from Sangatta, so we arrived quite exhausted and treated us a nicer hotel right in the city center. Samarinda has about 750,000 inhabitants. Thus, there is an abundance of street food carts, selling all sorts of Tofu, Tempeh and fried Bananas. And after 3 nights in Kutai with our sad ramen noddle dinners, we were more than ready to enjoy them as much as we could. We spent most of the

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Melbourne – Australian Open 2013

I have never been a great tennis fan, but with the Australian Open in the city, it was time to see some games live. Luckily, a friend and former childhood tennis player from Sydney visited at the time of the qualification matches, so we were ready to go to the courts, see the tiny yellow balls hit around, and get quite a bit sun-burnt. It turned out that we picked the Kid’s Tennis Day and we came right in time to see Team Spongebob play Team Explorer Dora in the Rod Laver Arena. It was a lot of fun to see a

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Possums in Melbourne

A wonderful thing about Melbourne is that the parks are packed with possums! You can see the cute little climbers waking up in the trees shortly after sunset. They are usually quite interested in the observer, hoping you brought some food with you. I doubt that human-food does them any good, but you can tell by the slices of toast bread on the trees, that they definitely don’t reject it. Still, it’s a bad idea, some naughty possums are apparently quite skilled in raiding picnics. Picture gallery

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Kutai NP – Meeting wild orang utans

The first item on our travel agenda for Kalimantan was the Kutai NP, a 2,000 km² protected rainforest with an estimated orang utan population of 600. Only a tiny fraction of the park is open to visitors, allowing them to stay at one of the 2 rooms at the ranger station which is reachable with a 20 minute boat ride from the outskirts of Sangatta. The best way to go is to call the senior ranger Mr. Supiani beforehand, asking him about the conditions. The accommodation is nice, visitors are asked to bring their own food and water for the stay

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Kutai NP – Boat trip to the delta

On our last day in Kutai NP, we joined another couple for a boat ride to the Sangatta river delta. It’s possible to see proboscis monkeys on the trip, the ones with the funny noses, but unfortunately, we didn’t see any. Nevertheless, the trip was fantastic, even though the small wooden motorboat proved not to be very comfortable for a 6 hour boat ride. During the trip, the shore of the river changed from rainforest to mangroves. We did see lots of makak monkeys, a crocodile, and several lizards. And going through the city of Sangatta was a lot of

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Kutai NP – Day and night hikes

During our 3 days at Kutai NP we did several hikes in the morning to meet orang utans and one night hike to to spot insects. While unfortunately most of the forest is not primary growth due to bush fires in the 1980s and 1990s, there is still lush wild life in abundance. Next to the orang utans the park is famous for, we saw beautiful animals, plants, flowers, and insects. During the day, we saw more plants and flowers, while at night the insects came out and our awesome guide Udin spotted several birds sleeping on the branches on

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Kuala Lumpur – Orchid gardens

After visiting the Batu Caves, we went to the orchid section of the botanical gardens in Kuala Lumpur. I have never seen so many beautiful kinds orchids in one place. The garden houses about 800 different kinds. A rock garden contains the terrestial flowers, while a half circle pergola houses the climbing orchids. My favorite was the banana orchid, it looks like a the peel of a very ripe banana! Picture gallery

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Kuala Lumpur – Batu Caves + delicious food

On our way to Indonesia, we met halfway in Kuala Lumpur and had a day there. In the late morning, we took the subway to the Batu Caves, a collection of natural limestone caves that house several Hindu temples just 30 minutes north of the city centre. The entrance of the caves line two massive statues, a green Hanuman and the world’s tallest statue of Lord Murugan being 42.7m high. The stairs are quite steep all the way up, but there are lots of monkeys that entertain you and try to steal your food. On the way down, there is

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The first watermelon!

Coming back to the garden after two weeks of vacation, it was great to see all the changes. Most plants did really well, thanks to our lovely neighbors who gave them a good water every couple of days. Especially the watermelon has been working hard – it developed the first tiny fruit, just as big as a marble. And the eggplant developed its first flower as well, hopefully the fruit will grow a bit faster than that! Still, so many different vegetables were ready to harvest, among them tomatoes, broccoli, jumbo zucchinis, corn, rocket, strawberries, and green beans. Additionally, the neighbors helped out

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