#sol December 13, 2016
It all started a few weeks ago when my friend Linnea began planning a long weekend away not so coincidentally on her birthday weekend. The way the school calendar falls here is sometimes baffling. Turns out this last week of school for 2016 would be a short one, as Monday was the Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday and Tuesday (today) was the Sultan of Selangor’s birthday (Selangor being the state my school is in). She wanted to go to Kuching, a city in Serawak, Borneo (still part of Malaysia) to see orangutans. Turns out there is a wildlife reserve there where you can see them. As we planned the trip any time Linnea was feeling ready for a break she would send me this picture:
As anyone who is a teacher knows, December is a very busy time, so I will admit I did all my research about the area on my way to the airport- I left everything up to Linnea. I learned that there were only 28 orangutans there, but still I was sure we would see at least a few.
We arrived mid-day Saturday and Sunday morning headed to the reserve. The taxi driver told us about a recent customer who had been there a few times and had not seen any orangutans. That was NOT part of our plan! The park ranger who greeted the crowd at the park made a point of repeating several times that it was fruit season in the rain forest, so the orangutans are less likely to return to their feeding areas- hmm, never even considered that we might really not see any orangutans. We staged a shot with Linnea’s photo of the baby oragutan in case we did not get to see any on our own.
We waited in the heat and shhed countless noisy fellow spectators. We could hear the rangers calling the orangutans, but saw no sign of them. Then, after about 30 minutes of fairly quiet waiting the near ranger gestured down the path and said that another ranger had said they were coming that way. We all rushed down the rocky path and waited. We could see the other ranger, but…
After a few more minutes we could see branches shaking! A mama orangutan came down. We watched Mina feast on some milk and bananas and then we caught a glimpse of her toddler, Jubilee.
Thanks to the ranger managing our expectations this really felt like the treat that it was. There we were in the middle of the rain forest getting to see a few endangered animals in their natural habitat. Lucky us!
It turns out that the whole weekend was a series of pleasant surprises. We met nice people (so many smiling people), enjoyed some great food (laksa, special layer cake, and more with only a short bout of tummy trouble, #thankyousmekta) and had lots of fun adventures in a beautiful city (the name translates to “Cat” and as result there is lots of cat themed art around the city. There is also a kitschy Cat Museum we did not get to). It was just the treat we needed! Now on to the last three days of school for 2016! I am carrying the idea of managing expectations with me as we end the semester.