Tag Archives: animals

Sandakan Market

The last day in Borneo was fairly uneventful, we woke up early to have breakfast and take the two and a half hour boat ride back to Sim Sim water-town and Sandakan.

Before catching our flight out of the Sandakan Airport, we had time to explore the central market and have lunch.

We had stopped by the market on Monday, but it was late in the afternoon and it appeared everyone was pretty much done for the day.

Monday - notice the woman is sleeping Chicken Feet

Monday – notice the woman is sleeping.
Chicken Feet

On Thursday morning around 10am the market was hopping. We walked around and saw all the fresh seafood (some still living), the fruits and veggies, raw meats and eggs, dried goods,  clothing shoes, bags, and about everything you could imagine.

Kids playing next to fresh veggies

Kids playing next to fresh veggies

The market building is only a few years old we were told, previously the entire market had been held outdoors.

While not air-conditioned, and obviously open air – I can imagine not sitting in the direct sunlight and having fans circulating air makes a big difference.

No one likes freshly sunned chickens

No one likes freshly sunned chickens

Our guide also mentioned, that now it is much better for the produce as before the market was not divided into sections and having fresh fish next to fresh produce does not make for the best produce!

I’ll let the pictures talk – if only I could have captured the smell for you!

IMG_0130

Big fish

Little fish

Little fish

Colorful fish

Red Fish, Blue Fish!

A lobster

A lobster

Shellfish

Shellfish

Sharks with fins cut off

Sharks with fins cut off

Chopping up fresh fish

Chopping up fresh fish

Click here for the video of this guy working!

The view from the market of fishermen coming in for the day

The view from the market of fishermen coming in for the day

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More Beautiful Borneo

After breakfast on our second day of our trip into the Borneo jungle, we had a little time to ourselves to relax and also make sure our bags were packed. We were staying one night in each of two jungle lodges.

At 10:30am, we met back with the group to head out for our tree planting activity. The Abai village which is located across the river from the Abai Jungle Lodge grows little seedlings. These trees are then sold to people to replant elsewhere. We went across the river by boat to pick up six trees and then headed a ways downstream to plant them.

There was a large grassy area where the tree planting took place, the former site of a village – they are trying to recreate growth in the area. However, in the open grasses it is hard for reforestation to happen without help.

With our trees and a handful of elephant dung

With our trees and a handful of elephant dung

As we got off the boat and on to land, we were all delighted to find many large piles of elephant dung. We then decided we should all grab some of the (dried) elephant dung to help fertilize our trees!

Digging a hole

Digging a hole

One of the local boys helped to dig holes, and we were left with sticking a sapling in a hole and filling the hole with dirt (more like clay in Sabah) and elephant dung. We then watered our saplings and made sure to note their numbers.

Planted Umbrella trees

Planted Umbrella trees

All the trees are tagged and numbered, and records are kept of them and who planted them. In case we ever want to visit our trees in the future. The species name was told to us in the local language – but the translation is umbrella tree.

Abai Village

Abai Village

We hopped backed into the boat and headed back to Abai village. We were given a little tour of the village and learned more about their history and way of life. They have a population of about 170 people, a school with about 40 students (I believe just through elementary school) and a mosque. There is also a very small store, and a machine which they use to process rice.

Our guide Albert explaining how this machine helps in harvesting rice more efficiently

Our guide, Albert, explaining how this machine helps in harvesting rice more efficiently

Fish drying in the village

Fish drying in the village

The village in supported mainly by fishing, and they seem to farm a lot of their own food. The village also has an Oriental Pied Hornbill that lives there and is very friendly to humans. When she was a baby, they found her injured and helped nurse her back to health. She flies free and has ever since she recovered; however, she stays in the village and seems to have no desire to go out on her own.

Village Store

Village Store

Collecting water

Collecting water

We had lunch in the village, before heading back across the river to the lodge.

Lunch

Lunch

The village bird, stealing our crumbs from lunch

The village bird, stealing our crumbs from lunch

John and I then were transported to Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge about an hour upstream where we would be spending our second night in the jungle. On the way, we spotted a 2.5 meter long crocodile on the bank!

Hey big guy!

Hey big guy!

The lodge seemed to be much bigger and had some new additions which made the accommodations slightly nicer than the Abai lodge; however, I like the food at Abai better.

Morning view from the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge

Morning view from the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge

Another trip up the river to search for wildlife was on the schedule for the late afternoon. We departed the lodge on another small boat and just went a couple minutes upstream before turning into a smaller river. It was nice to be on a smaller river again as you could see the wildlife on both sides of you and feel truly surrounded by the vegetation and wildlife. As we moved slowly up the river, the monkeys did not seem as frightened by us, and many stayed near the shore and let us watch them as they ate, played and groomed each other.

See the monkey?

See the monkey?

Late in the afternoon is when the monkeys find their way back to the river’s edge looking for a tree to stay the night in. Once back at the river, from their daily trips deeper into the jungle to find food, they snack on leaves and fruit, the young ones play and they socialize by grooming each other. It is fascinating to watch them and to learn about the different species.

Monkey silhouette

Monkey silhouette

Proboscis monkeys with their distinct large noses are only found on Borneo. In addition to the information we obtained from our guides, we were shown a 30 minute video on the species which was quite interesting.

This was right above John's head... The guide shook the tree and said, "they never wake up..."

This was right above John’s head… The guide shook the tree and said, “they never wake up…”

We saw long-tailed macaques, pig-tailed macaques and proboscis monkeys. We also spotted a black and yellow striped snake curled up sleeping in a tree, a couple water monitor lizards and of course more birds.


Good Morning Borneo

Wednesday morning, after our first night in the jungle lodge, we woke early for a 6:30 am boat ride to see more wildlife. It had cooled down significantly overnight, which was evident by the crisp air, the dew covering everything and the light fog rising from the water. It was truly beautiful. All sorts of birds were awake singing and you could hear them surrounding you, even when you couldn’t see them.

From the lodge

From the lodge

Steam rising from the water

Steam rising from the water

We went a bit up the river to a much smaller tributary, and headed upstream towards a lake. At times, the trees from the sides of the river would cover us like a canopy. Under the trees you could see amazing root systems growing into the water. My favorite tree was the banyan tree (related to fig trees) that has stilt like roots growing down from the branches. The roots help support the branches and allow for the trees to grow to their enormous size – sometimes stretching across creeks to grow on the other side.

Tree roots

Tree roots

Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree

We kept startling a purple heron and following him further upstream to the lake. We also saw more monkeys, a beautiful oriental pied hornbill and great egrets. It was a beautiful morning! Our guide actually spotted a gibbon in a tree a long way off, but he had very powerful binoculars and we didn’t think of bringing any. (Note – if you go to Borneo, bring binocs – and a GOOD camera)

Wear a life jacket - even if it is 3 sizes too big!

Wear a life jacket – even if it is 3 sizes too big!

We moved along to a quiet spot on the opposite side of the lake, where we sat for awhile watching the birds and drinking coffee. Suddenly, there were loud cries from deep in the jungle. It was a dominant male orangutan. The BIG ones – the ones you do not see at the sanctuary. Orangutans stay very deep in the jungle and they are very, very rarely seen in the wild because of this. However, to hear a large male crying out in the morning was quite spectacular.

On our way back to the lodge, we spotted a crocodile sitting along the bank of the river. We knew they were around, but it was the first one we got to see.

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

Back at the lodge, we had breakfast served out in the woods.


Borneo Adventure 2

Part Two – Continuation of the first day

After our lunch at the lodge and checking into our rooms, we had about an hour or two to ourselves. John and I went and explored the lodge and the walkways through the forest surrounding the lodge.

Outside our chalet at the lodge

Outside our chalet at the lodge

Flowers at the lodge

Flowers at the lodge

Around 4pm, we left again on a smaller motorized boat to go upstream and look for more wildlife. There was talk of elephants being further upstream in the days prior. So our guide, Albert, said we would go a ways up river and then come back slowly looking for wildlife. I really wanted to see an elephant, but apparently it is quite rare.

Exploring on our own

Exploring on our own before the wildlife cruise

We traveled upstream for about an hour without seeing much of anything. I was tired of sitting in boats and felt like it would be a waste of a trip as it seemed there was nothing to be seen in the thick forests lining the riverbanks.

On a boat again!

On a boat again!

We then came across a film crew who apparently had been sitting in the same spot since before noon and had seen some elephants crossing the river at noon – it was now 5pm and they said they were waiting for more.

Yes, there are many monkeys in that tree. (Bring a good camera when you go to Borneo!)

Yes, there are many monkeys in that tree. (Bring a good camera when you go to Borneo!)

We stopped for a moment and continued up a bit further, saw some more monkeys and turned around. This time when we stopped and our guide spoke to the driver of the film crew’s boat, they relayed to us that in fact about 50 pygmy elephants had emerged from the woods and swam across the large river. They also said one female had turned around and gone back in to the woods without crossing and there were two males that had not crossed.

As we sat on our boat talking, we began to hear movement in the bushes – big movement – not just monkey business. A few minutes later, the most amazing thing happened – a female elephant appeared on the riverbank.

A female Pygmy elephant!

A female Pygmy elephant!

We backed up our boat, as she was right near us, to give her room to cross. Then we watched an elephant swim all the way across the large Kinabatangan river. A-MAZ-ING!

Getting out of the river

Getting out of the river

She struggled getting up the bank on the other side of the river, but when she did and disappeared back into the forest we heard the cries of her herd as they greeted her.

She made it.

She made it.

Seeing an elephant in the zoo is one thing, seeing an elephant in the wild is quite another. I have seen elephants in Cambodia (and ridden them) but they were captive and forced to hang out in the city. The pygmy elephant is a smaller sub-species of the Asian elephant and only lives on Boreno.

Not only that, but the Borneo Pygmy elephant is endangered. There are only an estimated 1500 left on the island. Seeing one emerge from the jungle was such a rare and fantastic experience.

On the trip back to the lodge, we were able to see a number of other animals, including 4 species of monkeys (proboscis, long-tailed macaques, pig-tailed macaques and silver leaf monkeys), many birds – including 2 types of king fishers, and fireflies.

Sun going down over the river

Sun going down over the river

After dinner, we took a late evening walk behind the lodge to see birds ready to sleep, lizards, and lots of insects, moths & butterflies.

Getting ready to sleep

Getting ready to sleep


China – Day 2

Tuesday morning, after our MSG filled street food breakfast, we caught a subway over to the Laoximen station. From there we walked to what I call the cricket market. I think technically it is the bird and flower market. But that doesn’t sound nearly as interesting. Surrounding by the chirping of thousands of crickets of many sizes and colors, we explored the crowded little market filled with animals, smells, bird and plants of all varieties. Tried not to cry when we saw ten or more dirty kittens crammed in a small cage, or the caged puppies. Fish, turtles, rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, crickets, grasshoppers, thousands of caged birds from small song birds to a large grey parrot, to birds that said Ni Hao (hello) as you walked by.

Cricket Market

Cricket Market

All sorts of fish

All sorts of fish

They even make pet food in the market, sell meal-worms for the birds and you can watch the shop keepers and they shove little chunks of lettuce into the hundreds of teeny cricket boxes to feed them.

Food for animals!

Food for animals!

(Back in April 2011, I did a post about this market: Bird and Flower Market – with lots more pictures!)

Later in the morning, we went to Jing’An temple, then did a lot of aimless walking about town and exploring.

Incense burning at the temple

Incense burning at the temple

A mix of old and new - this is Shanghai

A mix of old and new – this is Shanghai

Our afternoon beverage, was brought to us by Liquid Laundry, a fun new restaurant, bar and brewery opened by the owners of Boxing Cat Brewery. It definitely has a totally different feel to it that Boxing Cat, but I loved it. Fifteen craft beers on tap, including their own – brewed in house, some Boxing Cat beers and also guest taps from around the world.

Awesome!

Awesome!

We tapped that!

We tapped that!

We ran into Boxing Cat’s brew-master Mike and were able to catch up briefly with him and the fabulous beer happenings in Shanghai. If you are ever thirsty for something delicious make sure to check out both Boxing Cat Brewery and Liquid Laundry.

Brew master Michael Jordan

Brew master Michael Jordan

Post beverage, and a difficult search for a taxi, we found our way to the Xujiahui area where we met four of my former coworkers for hot pot dinner at Little Sheep. After eating our own weight in hotpot, we rolled ourselves back to the hotel and crashed.

Old co-workers - these girls are the greatest!

Old co-workers – these girls are the greatest!


Shanghai Aquarium

I'll miss you, May!

I don’t really get to spend much time with my good friend May anymore; however, I wanted the chance to hang out before going back to the States.  On Thursday, May was sweet enough to take a day of work so we could hang out.  We talked about doing a day trip somewhere, but decided instead to stay in Shanghai and check out the Shanghai Aquarium.  (This ended up being the perfect plan, because sandwiched between a blue sky, beautiful Wednesday and a warm & dry Friday, we had a rainy miserable Thursday – being inside was a good thing.)

Dark, cloudy and rainy!

The Shanghai Aquarium is right next to the Oriental Pearl Tower in Pudong. As we were walking by the tower, I realized in my time in Shanghai, I have only been over to the area near the tower about four times.  Every time, it happened to be wet, cloudy and miserable.  So this is how the tower has always looked to me when ever I have seen it up close and personal.  (I have yet to actually bother going inside.)

We arrived at the aquarium, bought our tickets (160 rmb/adult) and noticed that we were just in time for the shark feeding on the feeding schedule! Yippee!  We asked where the shark tank was and learned about the one downfall of the aquarium – one way traffic.  You start out on the third floor of the aquarium and work your way down and through the three levels of exhibits – once you pass through you can’t go back.  The shark tank, of course, was at the end.  So we weren’t able to watch them feed the sharks but it was still a great trip to the aquarium.

This is a sea apple.

There was a special exhibit of dangerous sea animals, lots of funky looking poisonous fish, electric eels, sea urchins and little shell fish that you would never imagine had venom in them capable of killing hundreds of humans.

No offense, but you are sort of ugly....

Funny lookin' poisonous fish

There was an alligator (or crocodile, I don’t really know the difference) that was laying there SO still, I swore he was dead.  He had obviously been laying there for awhile because someone had thrown a coin on him and it was laying on his back.  May said he was definitely alive… I had my doubts.

Can you see the silver coin on his back?

One of my favorite parts was the jellyfish section, huge tanks full of beautiful jellyfish of all different sizes and colors.  They are such fascinating looking creatures, floating about, gliding effortlessly through the water.  One of the huge tanks of hundreds of clear/white colored jellyfish was illuminated by lights that changed colors, making the entire tank and jellyfish look like they were changing colors.

Gorgeous and colorful!

May gazing at the jellyfish.

jellyfish

In the SOS (save our sharks) exhibit, there were graphic images of the brutalities sharks face as they are hunted for shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asian countries.  There was also one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen, live fertilized, developing shark eggs.  Okay, so maybe eggs aren’t the most fascinating thing ever… but this certain type of shark actually develops and hatches from an egg.  The aquarium had eggs at their different developmental stages on display with light shining through them so you could actually SEE what was going on inside the egg.  In the first several stages, there was still a yolk inside the egg with the little teeny shark embryo.  The eggs from 41-50 days old were the best I thought, because you could see the yolk, and then around the yolk you could see a little teeny baby shark swimming around inside the egg.  I was fascinated!  In the later stages of development, you could see the little shark (and if definitely looked like the body of a little shark) just cramped up inside the egg ready to be freed into the world.  Awesome.

That is a shark swimming around a yolk in an egg. Fascinating.

My other favorite section was the “World Longest Underwater Viewing Tunnel at 155m” as the sign said.  The tunnel is broken up into sections and different sections feature different types of fish and sea life.  An area with huge schools of fish swimming super fast in circles around you, an area with a coral reef and lots of small colorful fish, and of course the best part, the huge sharks, giant sea turtles and graceful stingrays.  Have you ever been in a glass tunnel with a shark swimming above your head, so close you could touch it, or with a huge sea turtle (that probably weighed way more than me) swimming straight at you?  It is pretty amazing.  Unfortunately, with my fussy, broken camera and the fast swimming animals, my attempts to photograph the experience didn’t work so well.

Schools of fish swimming all around me!

So it isn't the best picture... but he is lookin' straight at me. If it weren't for the glass above my head, I may have been lunch!

I did spend a long time in that tunnel, just in awe of the beautiful, stunning, creatures of the sea.  I had heard good things about the Shanghai Aquarium and I am really glad I took the opportunity to check it out.  It is well laid out, everything is in English as well as Chinese, the displays and amount of animals you get to see are quite impressive.  I would absolutely recommend it if you are hanging out in Shanghai on a rainy day and need a good indoor activity.

What a cute little lizard!

After the aquarium, May and I headed to the Super Brand Mall where we feasted on delicious dim sum at Bi Feng Tang for lunch.


India: Animals

India is a different world.  I was told that before I left, and after being there I certainly believe it.  One of the characteristics of India that makes it unlike any other place I have ever visited, the animals. Yes, you are correct, there are animals everywhere; and none of the animals I saw in India are specific to or unique of India.  However, in most of my experiences, animals don’t just wander the streets in the middle of cities, or towns.  There are dogs on the streets in Thailand, Mexico and many other places, we have street cats in China, and I’m sure in villages in much of the third world farm animals are more prevalent than I am accustom.  But I was blown away by the abundance of animals roaming around India.

In India, walk down any street and there are animals, all sorts of animals, and they are everywhere.  Hinduism – which is prevalent in India – says that cows are sacred which means they aren’t killed, they aren’t eaten for beef and they pretty much are free to roam and live as they please.  Walking down the street nearby our hotel we ran in to many cows.  I will never forget how odd it was to be approached by a calf in the middle of the street.

No fear in this cow, as she walked right up to me!

Yet, cows aren’t the only ones roaming around.  There are goats and sheep in front yards, store fronts filled with cages upon cages of chickens, water buffalo pulling loads down the street, and even a horse pulling a cart in the middle of the city of Bangalore – right down the middle of a busy, popular shopping street.

Nothing out of the ordinary here, for India...

I watched a women using her entire weight, pulling on a calf trying to get it to move.  I watched a man walking a goat on a rope down the road.  While sitting in house church services in villages, the sounds of sheep and goats outside the door were common.  In fact, one evening, someone had to get up and shoo away the couple of sheep that were attempting to walk in the wide open front door and join our service.  Just another day in the life when you are living in India, I guess.

Boy and goat

While the orphanage and the church both owned dogs, most dogs seemed to be strays, eating trash and looking pretty grungy.  I used my foot move a teeny, filthy puppy out of the middle of the road one day.  It was just laying there half asleep, and I watched it almost get run over twice in about a two minute time frame.

Scroungin' for lunch

This guy's not roaming far....

I even, by a stroke of luck, managed to spot a bright green parrot-looking bird chilling in a palm tree one day.  Unfortunately, it was too far away to get a good shot of on my camera.  I heard it’s cry, turned and looked in the precise direction, at exactly the right moment to spot it’s bright green feathers amongst the darker green palm leaves while we were walking down the street.


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