Tag Archives: monkeys

A Day in Shiripuno and Misahualli

Jun 22 – Today we accompanied Janis and Luisa on a six mile trip by taxi to the nearby indigenous community of Shiripuno and the town of Misahualli.

Shiripuno serves as a traveler’s hostel with the hope of attracting tourists. It is run by a women’s cooperative. Right on the Rio Napo, some of their crops were damaged by yesterday’s floods.


The women demonstrated how to crush manioc, a root vegetable that can be cooked as a sort of bread. It is mixed with wayusa tea, wrapped in sweet leaf and roasted in the fire.

In another recipe, the manioc is chewed by all the women, then spit back into a communal bowl where it ferments for several days or weeks, then used as an intoxicant. We were offered some wayusa.

We were shown a huge rock that is said to be spiritually powerful. In the rock you can see a face and a tapir.

See the face?
See the tapir?

The women drummed and danced for us. Janis said the blue outfits, beads and grass skirts are a recent addition to attract tourists, but the dance is authentic, characterized by the swinging of their long hair. Grass skirts may have been used in pre-Colombian times.

There was a three year old just learning the dance, who was having a very good time doing her own thing. So cute!

Then we ventured into Misahualli. Here they imported some monkeys in the hopes of attracting tourists. There’s a monkey statue in the square.

Luisa, Janis, Luisa’s sister Eludia and Jim

The town’s primary attraction is canoe rides down the churning Napo River.

Grilled grubs are a delicacy here. Live grubs are skewered, then grilled, still wriggling.

After a few minutes, they are ready to serve. Jim pronounced them juicy and tasty!

The capuchin monkeys entertained the visitors, very active for mid-afternoon.

Misahualli is a very poor town, with an interesting variety of tourist shops and expats.

Jim and I would have explored more thoroughly, but Luisa at 90 could not walk far, so before too long we took a taxi back to Iyarina. An interesting day.

Taman Negara, Malaysia – Move to Kuala Tahan

8/3 – This morning we bade farewell to Nusa Village, and moved to a bungalow in Kuala Tahan.  Here we have a window, wifi, a kettle, coffee, air con, and hot shower  – a wealth of riches for about $17 a night – less than half the price we were paying at Nusa.  Plus, we have our choice of any restaurant in town!  Here’s our yummy lunch – there’s nothing shrimpy about these prawns! 

While we were eating lunch, the local school let out, and we watched as the children lined up to buy snacks.  Sugary soda was the number one choice, followed by French fries – I guess kids are the same everywhere! 

Cutest kids ever: 

Durian puffs, anyone?  They were pretty smelly… 

 When we got back from our hike today, Jim pulled off his boot to find his sock drenched with blood, issuing from a hole on the top of his instep, right at the vein. He felt no pain, and didn’t recall getting bit by anything. We washed it and dressed it, but it continued to bleed. The only thing I know that causes non-stop bleeding like this is leeches, but we couldn’t fathom how one could get under Jim’s boot and sock. A bandaid and pressure stopped the bleeding eventually. Very strange.

8/4 – Today was our last trekking day, and we hit the jackpot for wildlife. Early in the morning we spied a tiny moss deer, about the size of a rabbit. See the reflection of its eyes?      

Shortly after, some Dutch travelers pointed out a flying lizard resting on the trunk of a tree.   

Look close to see the feet and tail of a lizard  – his reflexes were quicker than my camera.  He was about a foot long. 

 We climbed into a hide – an elevated platform from which we could observe a meadow below, and watched a wild boar come out to graze, and a brown squirrel caper in the branches.    

As we walked back, we spied a family of monkeys feasting on jackfruit, high in a tree. We’ve come to understand that telling a Malaysian you want to see a monkey is like telling a New Yorker that you want to see a rat…  Oh well, I still think they’re cute.  Can you see the baby clinging onto the mother? 



Here’s another pretty big tree: 

 It rains mightily every night, and today we found that some of our floating restaurants had floated away!  Jim had to take off his boots and wade out to the place that sells the tickets for our bus ride back to KL tomorrow. 


When we got back to our bungalow, it was my turn to take off my boot and find a sock soaked with blood.  I had not felt anything crawl on my foot, but had the same leech-like round hole on my instep that Jim had yesterday.  How curious!

Penang National Park, Malaysia 

7/20 – So, here we are at the northern end of Penang Island to do a week’s trekking in Penang National Park.   


Mind you manners here please – no lewd kissing! 

 Admission to the park is free, and there are several trail routes to choose – to the University Research Center, Monkey Beach, the Lighthouse, Turtle Beach and the Canopy Walk.  Unfortunately, the Canopy Walk is closed for renovation.  Our first destination is the University Research Center.


This trek hugged the coastline, with different views of the water (Straits of Malacca), always on our right.


Parts of the trail were relatively flat and easy to navigate, while other parts involved some climbing and scrabbling over rocks, big roots and downed trees. 

The weather was HOT, and we sweated buckets even walking in the shade of the jungle. Very pretty tree trunks here.

Here are the same “temple-eating” trees (Ficus strangulosa) that we encountered at Angkor Wat in Thailand.  Looks like they also eat bridges!


There are several buildings and a pier at the Research Center.  It was a nice place to stop and eat our lunch before retracing our path back home.

7/21 – The next day we hiked farther along the seaside trail to see Monkey Beach.  As promised, there were monkeys here, long-tailed macaques of the agressive variety. 


We were sitting on a bench and talking to some Malaysian students and a couple from Switzerland, when a monkey jumped down and grabbed Jim’s backpack!  Luckily, his reflexes were quick, and he was able to snatch it back.  The monkey stayed on the ledge, looking a little disgruntled.


The beach was pretty, and we met another group of Malaysian students who had all just graduated from university.  They are all engineers!


7/23 – Today we hiked up the mountain toward Turtle Beach.  The terrain was steep, and it was dark under the canopy, but still very hot.  

There was a waterfall, and a dirt path used by water buffalo to haul logs out of the jungle.  

These roots look a little snake-like, don’t you think?  I examined them carefully before stepping on them!  

We hiked up to the Canopy Walk, which looked like it was intact, but was roped off so it could not be used. 

We’ll have to come back another year to walk the Canopy!

Koh Chang, Thailand – When Monkeys Attack!

7/6 – So, here we are for a lazy month on a tropical island.  The days blend together, with walks in the mornings, swimming in the afternoons, and sea gazing in the evenings.  We read for hours every day, thanks to Overdrive and Kindle.  We are taking advantage of the great wifi to catch up on Netflix – we’re halfway through the third season of House of Cards.  We talk to tourists as they come and go – most are from Germany and Scandinavia.  We eat at little open-air restaurants – our resort has the best one, the Bamboo Hut.  Nothing happens here, and that is okay with us.  

 One morning, we hiked over to the Bang Bao fishing village to get some supplies. We bought some groceries, including a bunch of the little, sweet bananas we like so much. As we walked back toward our beach with our plastic grocery bags, we spied some monkeys by the side of the road. Please excuse the fuzzy shot, but how often do you see a monkey on a motorbike?  This monkey will become significant in a minute…


I joked to Jim that the monkeys were waiting for him to offer them a banana. All of a sudden, Jim yelled and swung the plastic grocery bag, which now had a big monkey attached, holding on to the bananas with all four feet and screeching! OMG! He was trying to steal our bananas!  I wish I could say I provided some assistance in fighting off the attacker, but truth to tell, I dropped my bag and ran backwards, leaving poor Jim to deal with the monkey.  He was not cute, and looked a lot bigger up close.  Jim kicked at it once as he dropped the bag, then kicked it again before the monkey let go of the bag, and scurried back to the other side of the road to join his mates. I was still yelling OMG! while checking to see if Jim had been scratched or bitten – who knows what diseases monkeys carry?  Jim was okay.  The big monkey hunched on the other side of the road with his buddies, hissing at us. He was mad!  I was afraid he would run at us again, so I raised my arms up over my head (making myself appear larger – I think I read this in an article about what to do if attacked by a bear) and hissed right back at him.  He and his monkey gang stayed on the other side of the road, and we power-walked home, pumped with adrenaline, Jim looking forward, and me looking back.

Sorry to say, there is no photographic evidence of this incident.   After the blurry pic, I totally forgot to preserve any part of this story for posterity, so here is an Internet pic of hissing monkeys: 


Here is the sign at our village that someone must not have heeded: 


See?  Didn’t I tell you this post would be exciting?

Kep, Cambodia – the Crab Market

6/18 – About two km walk along the beach from our hotel is the famous Kep Crab Market. The walk was breathtakingly beautiful. 

    Here’s the crab market – a conglomerate of shacks right at the water’s edge.. 

  There were lots of squid, flatfish and shrimp for sale, in addition to crabs cooked any way you like. 


Look at the lady on the right – it looks like she is dressed for a blizzard, although it is 100 degrees.  And she is standing in front of a hot grill!


We watched the crab pots being hauled in, and the sellers haggling for the best crabs. 


We had lunch at one of the little restaurants, looking right out on the water.  This time I remembered to take a picture of our crab with Kampot pepper sauce – before and after! 


On our walk home, we had a special treat.  A whole troop of monkeys met us on the road! 


A perfect end to our day! 

Kep, Cambodia – the Pepper Farm and the Park

6/15 – Kampot pepper is this area’s claim to fame, so today we did the tourist thing and hired a tuk-tuk to take us to visit Sothy’s Pepper Farm. 



We met Norbert Klein, a German expatriate who purchased this farm four years ago.  He grows fruit trees in addition to Kampot pepper, which is grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.


It is just after the harvest season for the pepper, but there were still some green pepper grapes on the vines.


The pepper plants are shaded with a roof of palm fronds as pepper doesn’t grow well in direct sun.


The plants are tied up on poles, and grow to about eight feet high. 


After harvest, the green peppercorns are set out in the sun to dry.  Most turn black, others white.  Some of the white ones are boiled and peeled to reveal red peppercorns, the rarest and most expensive.  The colors are sorted by hand. 


There is a small shop with fruit and pepper for sale.  An interesting trip; we learned a lot! and it made me appreciate Kampot pepper sauce even more!

6/17 – Today we hiked again in Kep National Park, this time entering from the beach side.  We had to pay a dollar to enter.  There is a sign assuring us that this park has been cleared of land mines, and is safe for hiking.  This is good to know – thanks USA for the gift that keeps on giving, 50 years after the Vietnam War ended.  (We met a European tourist who looked puzzled when we mentioned the Vietnam War, then he said, “Oh, we call it the American War!”)


The climb up the hill gave us some nice views of the beach below. 

    We reached a waterfall, but it was dry, as there has not been enough rain for the water to flow. Here is a pic of what it should look like.


We saw a sign asking us not to feed the monkeys, and kept looking up, hoping to see one in the trees. 

As we sat quietly on a bench, we heard a great crashing above, and saw a monkey swinging among the trees!  I was not fast enough to catch a shot of him between trees, but this is a pic of the tree with the monkey in it, I swear! 


Further up the road was a side trail promising cold drinks and baby monkeys.  The side trail was very steep, very narrow, very full of mosquitoes, but no more monkeys (or cold drinks) did we see!


It was awfully hot, even in the shade, but it was a nice morning’s walk.  Here is some beauty from the trail. 


Kep, Cambodia – the Beach

6/12 – This morning we bade farewell to the lovely but isolated Botanica Guesthouse and tuk-tukked down the road to beautiful downtown Kep.  Here we found a street with shops, restaurants and even an ATM!   


A Hindu statue at the roundabout:


We will stay at the Saravoan Hotel, just steps from the beach, for the next week or so.

Kep is all about the beach.   Out on the pier is a statue of a lady – the locals have draped her in scarves to cover her immodesty. 

     Even monks need a vacation: 

Here is the view from our balcony.  Sorry if there’s not much to blog this week – I intend to spend most of my time swimming!

   6/14 – We woke up on Sunday morning to the sounds of people and traffic.  What’s going on in our sleepy little town?  We walked out of our hotel into a flurry of activity – restaurants had set up extra tables on the sidewalk, carts lined the street hawking food, fruit, ice cream, cold drinks, crabs and squid.   Music filled the air.

Sunday is the day when locals pile their families into cars and rent a parking space near the water, and buses of tourists come from nearby Vietnam for a day in the sun. 

Little cabanas are for rent, where families picnicked and swung in hammocks in the shade. 

The afternoon turned cloudy, but the weather didn’t deter the revelers.  You’ll notice that folks stay mostly clothed, even when they go into the water.   

After a swim, we sat on our balcony and gazed out at the water.  Around dusk, two monkeys strolled down the street, stopping to inspect the trash on the roadside, lick out food containers and help themselves to anything that looked tasty.  There’s a sign in our hotel warning guests not to leave anything out on the balcony where it can be stolen by monkeys.  We brought our shoes indoors, just in case.  We watched them for a long time, and listened to the sound of the gentle waves. What a treat!