Forest fun with rehabilitating Gibbons, Dune bashing madness and home sweet home...
19.09.2008 40 °C
From Khao Lak we headed South in a monsoon to a small Muslim village on the island of Phuket, right by the entrance to the National Park and the forest. We settled into very basic accomodation with lots of animals everywhere and met our fellow volunteers. The Gibbon Rehab Project takes gibbons who have been taken from their mothers shot out of the upper canopy as babies, and sold as pets or tourist attractions, though it usually takes 4 or 5 dead mothers and babies to get an alive one. Some of the gibbons at the project have been abused, and one sweeet one was abused so badly she had 2 limbs amputated. The project aims to rehabiliate the gibbons, and they go through a spell in quarantine checking for diseased, and then into the rehab site where they are cared for but dont interact with humans, and they learn to swing, drink with their hands, and sing with other gibbons. If they can sing they can hopefully 'bond' with a mate, and eventually have a baby, and be released into the rainforest as a family. Its a long but very rewarding process. On our first day we woke up at dawn and trekked 2 hours uphill into the rainforest, getting very sweaty along the way, and it rained intermitttently. Eventually we came to the area where the most recently released family live, and we posted a kilo of fruit, which they continue to get one year after release, up into the canopy. After a while we felt a pattering of raindrops falling as the leaves moved high above and looking up we saw the male adult gibbon swinging from tree to tree and over to the food, followed by the 2 children and the MOther. It was amazing to see them in their natural environment again, havbing been made totally extinct in the rainforest by hunters. It gave us the motivation we needed for the next week, which involved early starts, feeding and cleaning, health checks and givving tourists information at the tour desk and shop. We went out with the Thai staff and fellow volunteers, and made curries and fried rice from ingredients from the local market, and visited Phuket town too. It was a wonderful experience and we were really sad to leave. I can recommend it to anyone wishing to do this type of volunteer work.
We headed back to Bangkok for a day before our flight, and had some more crazy tuk tuk driving, Wats, good food and the fun of staying on the Khao San road, replete with touts for Ping Pong shows, deep fried locusts and very cheap and strong cocktails! From there we flew to Dubai, where it was about 38 degrees and incredibly humid, basically impossible to be outside for more than 10 minutes. The building going on there, the 7 star hotel, the Palm Island (not yet finshied and 2 more AND the World being built) are just incredible feats. We did a wondeful trip into the desert one evening, went dune bashing which was exciting and pretty scary, the drivers were mentalists! They tehn took us to a wonderful camp in the desert dunes, with little lanterns, and 3 camels who we rode on! There we smoked some shisha, got Henna tattoos, and had a HUGE wonderful meal of BBQed meat, houmous and chapattis, rice, veggies, curried lentils, etc, and watched the stars come out, pure magic
Yesterday we flew home and now Paul is back in Herts and Anna in sunny Devon, and we cant wait to catch up with friends and family asap. Thanks for following this blog and our adventure! Love A&P XXX