Cairnes to Melbourne

(Note the changes due to the possibility of Cyclone Jasper hitting the area of Queensland right about the time we might have been there. Glad we went to the Great Barrier Reef yesterday. Met some people this morning who had scheduled their trip for tomorrow – which is now so not happening.)

On the map (which came from Windstar back sometime in Aug/Sept and never updated. From the map to our previous schedule to the new one ….a few changes)


and day by day –

Saturday, December 9 Cairns, Australia 6:00pm

Sunday, December 10 Port Douglas, Australia 6:00am-4:30pm Sea Day

Monday, December 11  At Sea

Tuesday, December 12 Airlie Beach, Australia Noon-7:30pm Sea Day

Wednesday, December 13 At Sea Brisbane 0700 – 2000

Thursday, December 14 Fraser Island, Australia 8:00am-2:00pm Sea Day

Friday, December 15 Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia 10:00am-6:00pm Sea Day

Saturday, December 16 At Sea Newcastle NSW 0700-1800

Sunday, December 17 Sydney, Australia 10:00am  0800

Monday, December 18 Sydney, Australia 4:00pm 1500

Tuesday, December 19 Eden, Australia 9:00am-5:00pm

Wednesday, December 20 At Sea

Thursday, December 21 Melbourne, Australia 8:00am

and our outbound flight is around 1300 direct to SFO…

(it is now about 0900 in the morning here in Cairns. – we sailed in prior to 0700

The sea was calm but overcast enough that it wasn’t worth taking a picture of the sunrise.

And, for those who are curious – I have picked up TapDancer (LongDog) and making decent progress – now at 34%


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Port Douglas & the Great Barrier Reef

Up front, you will be disappointed. I was not sure what kind of security, if any, was going to be provided on the vessel sailing us out to the Barrier Reef.  I did know that Quicksilver would have more than our tour group on the ship. So I left my phone back on the ship. It just seemed safest.  It took almost 90 minutes to get out to Agincourt Reef where Quicksilver has a fixed platform. And that was at close to 30 knots/hr.  Of note, the sea wasn’t calm. There were a number of people making use of the sea sickness bags on the way out….


I am also skipping pictures which I could have taken of our pile of snorkel gear. If you have seen snorkel gear before, this was more of the same. If you haven’t – it won’t make a who lot of sense. I brought my own prescription mask, snorkel and skin suit. I was more than happy to use Quicksilver’s fins and floatation devices.

(if you want to see how many companies offer tours in Port Douglas …..

I had a great time. Snorkeled. Did a trip in one of their submarines. Survived the tender trip into town and back (the seas were not pleasant and it took 7 attempts to get the tender next to the ship on the way back. Changes coming due to weather




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Storm Definitions

Storm Defnition

As Val reminded me the other day, where you are in the world matters when defining a storm. Let me run down some quick definitions associated with north vs south of the equator. While I am at it – Atlantic and Pacific Ocean can also make a difference, in the nomenclature – but not in the basic principle and destructiveness of the storm.

1. Typhoon -a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.

2. Cyclone – A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain and squalls.  Clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, anti-clockwise in the Northern.

3. Hurricane –  A hurricane is a strong tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean or northeastern Pacific Ocean,

Fun (!) things to know: * When a hurricane passes west across the International Dateline in the Northern Hemisphere, it becomes known as a typhoon. for all the details.

All of this is important only because Typhoon Jasper is starting up and may just affect the rest of this cruise and the leg beyond.

I am not including any photos today – it is a sea day and we will have a few more later on the next leg where I can do “pictures around the ship.”


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Thursday Island

Across the Torres Straits from Papua New Guinea lies Thursday Island.  As you can see, it is not all that far from the mainland either.  With a population of ~3,500 it is not exactly overly populated.  We tendered in and just went walking.

Of course, there is a ANZAC Park complete with memorial which starts with WWI and includes all the conflicts after that –

The front side lists all from WWI – and I am not sure whether it is completely a memorial or an honor to those who have served (as the other side lists WWII Veterans….). It also includes those who served with the Merchant Marine, Australian Air Force and US forces…

from there we hiked up to Green Hill Fort which over looks the Strait –

and wandered the various canon emplacements and look outs

The underground ammunition chambers which apparently house the museum portion were closed with the onset of the COVID pandemic and apparently haven’t yet reopened.

We hiked around town, wandered in and out of shops. Bought water, candy bars and some hair conditioner. George found a pair of shorts. I managed to misplace my phone for a while which was rescued by another ship passenger and returned.

I think I need a nap!


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Tasy Tarts

It is a sea day. There was also another 30 minutes of time change to get from Darwin’s time to that of Queensland. As a result there was almost no one up at 0600. So I was able to enjoy another wonderful sunrise

Otherwise it was a quiet sea day. I stitched. Since Lady Penny Witherbottom is complete, I decided to pull out TapDancer by LongDog and put in some more stitches. I managed the first ~20% this past March/April on transAtlantics.

Then there was supper –

First I went for the lovely vegetarian tart –

with goat cheese, beets & broccoli, the sauce had a lovely lemony flavor! For desert – there was chocolate with a hint of ginger. Since I was being “good” I skipped the ice cream.

Tomorrow we arrive at Thursday Island. We are tendering. There are obviously docks and piers – but I can understand that tendering doesn’t interfere with either commercial arrival of goods or the ferry schedule….

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Glorious Sunrises

Which doesn’t even come close to how incredibly awesome it was.

My day was pretty quiet. I skipped the fitness center since we had walked more than a reasonable amount yesterday and my knee needed a bit of a break.

I really should comment, I suppose, on the jig-saw puzzle fanatics who managed to complete the new 500 piece puzzle I bought in Darwin in about 3 hours.  Or post photos on the latest stitching progress. Maybe tomorrow or the day after….

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Darwin, NT, Australia

The last time I was in Darwin was 1 Nov 2013 – so just over 10 years ago. Since this is our first stop in Australia there was just the small matter of having to clear immigration as well as more than enough lectures about not taking food off the ship. I get it, and understand it. There were still a few passengers grumbling… seriously.

The one place I wasn’t able to visit on that trip was the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.  It is an amazing place. To get there you can take a taxi, Uber, or a bus. The fourth option is the most challenging. We walked.

From the harbor up to the city was easy –

From there, it was a bit of distance. Did I mention that it was raining? About 2/3rds to 3/4th of the way we stopped at the Cafe associated with the Botanical Gardens. We had talked about visiting the botanical gardens – but in the rain? Not me thank you very much.

So instead, quite damp we arrived at the Museum which turns out to be free. There is the art gallery,



a natural history section,

Northern quoll

small land crocodiles

the kookaburra.

and one on 1974 Cyclone Tracy

I took a lot more photos, but you certainly don’t need to see them all.  We met a number of other people from the ship at the museum including several who were taking the bus back. Given a choice, it seemed the most sensible option to me.

Getting back to the ship, I discovered that my hotspot to the computer didn’t want to work. Rather than attempt to do all of this on my phone – I elected to hop back on the shuttle bussed use the free Wifi in the shopping area.

I may look around a bit more before heading back to the ship. There are also the WWII Oil Tunnels to see.

Our next two days will be at sea. I may/maynot break down and pay the ship for wifi. It seems really not worth it.


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A sea like glass

I don’t remember many times when I have cruised on an ocean that is this flat. Hardly a ripple, easy to see fish, and dolphins pacing the ship for short sprints before veering off on their own business.

The Sunrise was glorious, as was the sunset (which I didn’t photo from our dinner table).

We had also just had another time zone change last night to match Darwin. 30 minutes forward seemed to be beyond most people’s ability. Instead of a line of 8-10 at 0600 at the coffee stop – there was no one other than me. So I was able to enjoy my latte and even get a second without feeling like I was making someone else wait.

There really isn’t much else to tell you about the day. I listened to a couple of audio books, stitched on Lady Penny Witherbottom (the second of the Sheepchester series) and joined two other couples for supper.

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Dili, East Timor

I had read a warning in a 2021 blog about the lack of Wifi in East Timor but had naively thought things would be upgraded in 2023. Not really, and my iPhone wasn’t really happy with the 3G connection. Like txt sort of went, but email was impossible. Same for accessing anything remotely resembling a website.

Add in hot & humid.  There was nothing on offer for tours, so we went out exploring.  The key thing to see was the Resistance Museum.

(BTW- if you are looking for reliable information with useful links – there is  Managed by the Wikipedia folks. Add /wiki/Dili in specific for this, the capital city of East Timor.

In any case, the Resistance Museum is housed in a new building (not surprisingly since most of the city was destroyed during the fight for independence.  The museum lays out clearly the time line and key events for that 25 year period.  The story is brutal, with the negatives from both sides documented.

From there we sweated through a stop at the SuperMercado (coffee&chocolate) and back to the ship.

Photos to follow when I have wifi

(added in Darwin)

Boats in the harbor

The terminal

we weren’t sure if the damage was left over from the war, but we think last year’s cyclone.


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Right before sunrise, and the sun just over the horizon.

Still in Indonesia. Kupang is the southern most city in Indonesia and located in Timor. 

It is not a city that often sees cruise ship traffic. The port is well set up and the pier is certainly long enough for a ship of this size but I don’t see that the bus system or port buildings could handle a much larger influence.  

In European history – the island was “discovered” by the Portuguese then taken over by the Dutch in the early 1600’s. Much of the discussion about who has rights to what seem to have had nothing to do with the people already there (why am I not surprised?) There were also various English incursions corresponding to various European Wars. It also was heavily bombed during WWII by the Allies when it was under Japanese control.

There is a heavily Christian influence here –

and apparently is the current seat of the regional Archdiocese.

There is also a significant Muslim but visibly nowhere near as prevalent.

I found the presence of the “cobbler’s row” more interesting. Set up along the side of one of the main thoroughfares, there were close to a dozen set up in a row, each with their own chair, bag of shoes, and perhaps a stool busily repairing/resoling shoes. 

I couldn’t figure out who had the shade umbrellas in terms of seniority, or wealth, or position or ??? Since all were very similar I also was thinking that maybe it was another vendor’s job to rent/set them up? I don’t speak any of the local languages and unfortunately, the only English speakers seemed to be at the University located right behind that wall. Since they seemed to be occupied in grounds clean up and burning piles of horribly smelling trash – I wasn’t going to go there!

Moving back toward the harbor – I got the feeling that the light house was relatively new. Since it was located on another spit of land from where we were standing – I didn’t get a chance to see it up closer. That half-shell thing in the lower corner of the picture turned out to be one of a number of partly sheltered seating areas facing the bay. 

It was hot. It was humid. We had planned to getting to one of the museums. Said museum (if the young woman helping actually knew anything) was more than 5 km away. More than I wanted to walk in the heat. Taking one of the local “buses” or back of a motor cycle wasn’t going to happen. 

We headed back to the ship a bit earlier than planned as a result. But then since we drove through a brief but intense rain shower on the way back, perhaps it was for the best!

and today’s buses weren’t as colorful, but in a lot better a shape.  

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Mostly Tin roofs

Today we are in Waingapu – another one of the Indonesian cities on an island (whose name is escaping me at present but will be filled in if I can located it.SUMBA! ) The ship was offering limited (like ONE) excursions. The port talk last night emphasized the unusual architecture, the prevalence of horses, and the continuing traditions of the indigenous population (which obviously is responsible for note in architecture above).  I did find an entry finally in Wiki relating to the city. But it really doesn’t say a whole lot. One of the things that was mentioned was horses. Now, this is not an area of the world where horses would be native. All I can do is assume the blame is to be placed on the Spanish and Portuguese as they are responsible for the introduction of horses to other ares.


Traditional roofs have those four sided peaks which apparently can be either flattened or sharp on the top.

In any case, taking a tour was not on my list today. However, since there was a shuttle bus on offer, I decided to give it a try.

turns out these brightly colored beasts hold about a dozen people at best (or maybe 20 small children The outsides are brightly painted, the insides are benches that are worn, fragmenting and springs are non existent.

Almost all the roofs are tin. Some of it is painted, much looks like stains, and the rest is just hot and reflective in the sun.  There were a few of the traditional roof lines, but the rest looked to be the most efficient use of sheets of corrugated tin.

Where there were walls, many were built of broken cement chunks fitted together. I saw one buffalo, one goat, a cat or two and, unlike the Philippines – no dogs. There were students in uniform at the one secondary school, but mostly there were children, and motorcycles everywhere.

Returning to the port – the highest thing around seemed to be the port control tower.

It was hot, it was humid and my head is starting to recover from the exhaust leak in the bus. Oh so not fun!

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and to Komodo as well

at the end of my day

  1. This is the second stop on this leg and a repeat from the previous cruise. I literally missed the boat on going snorkeling. One of those (there are 60 of us) who are holdovers from the previous cruise had checked for private boats the last time we were hear. So about a dozen, rather than pay the 159$ that the ship wanted for snorkeling and a visit to the local village paid $10US/a head to spend two+ hours on the same beach. They reported that the shorkling was great, the beach and the weather were scorching.

    I didn’t get off the ship. George has managed to have an ear infection so swimming/snorkling/hearing are not currently options for him.

So most of my day was spent quietly.  Also going through my audio book apps for no-brainer listens





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Back to Lombok

After leaving Bali yesterday, our ship headed back toward Lombok. Both today and tomorrow are repeat ports for those of us on back-to-back cruises. This morning I checked in again with one of our local experts at the coffee station. We dock at 0700 and leave by 1500. It is over an hour to anywhere. I looked at the tours the ship is offering. I don’t find any of them more interesting than I did the first time around. I may hit the same issue in Komodo tomorrow. That one is the decent tender ride followed by a risky disembark up narrow steps without a railing followed by being swarmed by local kids trying to sell things. Anyway – I can do that whole description tomorrow.

One of the interesting things I noted was that, by coming in early, all of the local ferries and inter-island transports were still at anchor in the bay.

It didn’t seem like all that much till I counted 14 plus two pilot boats.

Looking more closely, these are not small crafts..

I am thinking that I need a nap, a new audiobook and lunch in its proper time.  That will also mean I can get away from the flies inhabiting the terminal. and driving most of us insane. 


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Bali -> Cairnes


Sunday, November 26 Benoa, Bali, Indonesia 6:00pm
Monday, November 27 Lombok, Indonesia 7:00am 3:00pm
Tuesday, November 28 Komodo, Indonesia 1:00pm 6:00pm
Wednesday, November 29 Waingapu, East Sumba 7:00am 3:00pm
Thursday, November 30 Kupang, Indonesia 8:00am 5:00pm
Friday, December 1 Dili, East Timor 8:00am 5:00pm
Saturday, December 2 at sea
Sunday, December 3 Darwin, Australia 7:00am 5:00pm
Monday, December 4 At Sea
Tuesday, December 5 At Sea
Wednesday, December 6 Thursday Island 8:00am 4:00pm
Thursday, December 7 at sea
Friday, December 8 Port Douglas, Australia 7:00am 6:00pm
Saturday, December 9 Cairns, Australia 7:00a

please note – the map matches the “old cruise” and not the new list above. Darwin has been added and apparently the Papua New Guinea small island ports have sustained some damage and may not be open. Needless to say – there are some very unhappy passengers. For most of us – this leg has the Great Barrier Reef visit and the rest is just icing.

Disembarkation ran smoothly this morning and by 0930 George & I were in the few remaining passengers on ship. There are 60 remaining from the previous leg (some from Hong Kong and some from when we boarded in Yokohama). We are not gaining as many as we are losing. Doesn’t bother me at all, I enjoy the lower number of passengers. Additionally, some of the more entitled are off the ship and staying in Bali for a week or so. Also some really wonderful people. The first group? Meh, the second I will sorely miss.

As the distances from the port to anything really interesting that I would like to do aren’t particularly short, I am not going anywhere today. The idea of driving a couple of hours to turn around and drive back to make the ships departure would have just made me a bit too anxious.

So instead – you get the water views – and the new terminal (obviously newer and shinier than when I was here in 2013).

we passed this spit of land with larger homes, boat slips and lots of small and medium size boats on the port side as we sailed into the harbor.  I didn’t take photos of the larger planes inbound as we crossed under their flight path but counted five in less than 30 minutes. Thinking these are night flight departures from more distant cities.

Bali is the country (region of Indonesia anyway) and Benoa the city.

This is the new terminal complex where we were along side by shortly after 0700.

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We docked at 1300

I am electing to make this a rather quiet day. The terminal is nowhere near downtown so there is nothing walkable. Plus the temperatures and humidity are falling into the not fun categories.  We waited till about 1400 which was only an hour after docking before heading into the terminal and enjoying the free wifi. Not the flies, but the wifi.

This was the greeting music –

This leg ends tomorrow in Bali. I am not yet sure what George has planned for the day. In any case there will be a significant turn over of passengers. The number now staying from Japan is seriously reduced.

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Komodo National Park

Obviously the thing to do in Loh Liang, Indonesia is a walk through the Komodo National Park. It would be totally foolish to not see Komodo Dragons while here. Right? World’s largest lizard and all of that. Also what should have been obvious to me but wasn’t till the port talk last night was that this was another tender port. The location of disembarking being a long pier next to the park entrance.

The choices today were “short tour” or “long tour” with the only difference between the two being a follow on trip to Pink Beach for snorkeling. Considering the bright sunlight, temperatures around 35*C and 100% humidity, spending time on a hot beach, even for snorkeling wasn’t high on my list. 

The park provided two naturalists for each group. Both were knowledgable and polite. Too polite as there was also a “guide” from the tour company who couldn’t seem to shut his mouth. My recommendation to anyone would be to insist on being able to listen to the naturalists.

Anyway – there were also birds – one of the cardinal family (being more yellow than we normally see) and another of the raven/crow variety (black).  We heard the yellow crested cockatiels, but none deigned to show off their feathers.

then there were the interesting insects –

who you can see hanging upside down on the branch….

But mostly we were there for the Komodo Dragons –

the first two we saw on our way in. The ground was dry – it isn’t quite the rainy season yet (3 months wet/9 dry).

frankly, I don’t find them particularly attractive at all.

Like most lizards – they swallow their prey whole/chunks without chewing, then spend a few weeks digesting. They don’t particularly care if their food is fresh, recently killed or pretty putrid. And yes, they are venomous.

This fellow would make a nice meal for an adult.

It was hot, extremely humid and I was more than delighted to get back on ship.

not our ship, but passed in the tender on the way back.


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Makassar, Indonesia

According to the advanced information – we were to arrive in port at 0600 and leave at 1600. Somewhere along the line, the departure time was moved up a couple of hours. Added to the hot & humid was the ship offering only one tour, an all day affair leaving at 0730 and getting back (I suspect actually after) right before all-aboard.

I was up early as always and

was able to watch both the sunrise, as well as our arrival in port

which was beautiful (and I think partly a result of serious pollution by the smoky smell of the air after we docked).

which didn’t take away the beauty of the sun coming up behind the nearest mosque minaret.

We waited till 0830 and caught the first shuttle bus to the “mall” –

which I deferred and instead walked to Fort Rotterdam (let us not forget the Dutch East India Company) and their colonial involvement in this region.  Although not next door, I can highly recommend Simon Winchester’s book on Krakatoa which delves into the Dutch Colonial activities in this region. If your public library doesn’t have it – ask for it.

Any way –

with it’s walls, moat on one side, and areas of former canon emplacements –

facing seaward.  The church in the center holds pride of place

with the rest of the buildings surrounding the central square. I skipped the museum as it was dark, few exhibits present as seen through a couple of windows and packed full of school children.

outside the walls –

I don’t get the large gong – and there wasn’t a plaque. The horse and rider? Isn’t there always a horse and rider statue?

There is free wifi in the arrival hall so I am going to take advantage of it to weed out my inbox. The current outside temperature is 91*F with equivalent humidity. Even looking at the temperature in *C isn’t going to make it any cooler.

Tomorrow is Komodo dragons.

And yes, we are expecting turkey for dinner. There are too many Americans on board not to do that…

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Sea Day 2/2

(sunrise is before 0600 in case you are wondering) – go to the blog post if you want to enjoy these.


Having two relaxing days in a row is not unusual for my average cruise. It certainly is for this trip. This leg, like the previous one, is port heavy. Not, so far, with ports that I am interested spending the entire docked time, but with places that are interesting to visit once.

The jig-saw puzzle fiends have worked their way through the entire collection of 500 piece puzzles including some traditional poster type puzzles (Cats, sea creatures, bees, and birds) and are now tackling a 2000 piece one that is taking up practically the whole table. Not helped of course by someone who jammed the edges together without matching colors….

The guest lecturer on board for this segment is much better than the last and is actually talking about local landscape, culture, religion, and craft traditions. I told her afterwards that she does need to be a bit more pointed with some of the passengers. Don’t tell them they will “feel more comfortable” if they are dressed more conservatively. Just tell them that it is needed. When you have those in their 60s and up heading off ship into a conservative Muslim location dressed in skin tight bicycle shorts, tank tops with flesh bulging out and flip-flops (thongs for the Aussies) on their feet – it is obvious that they are not uncomfortable at all. Rude? Inconsiderate? Disrespectful of the hosting country?

Perhaps I am more sensitive having served in the mid-East and not wishing to offend any more than a woman in a uniform carrying a weapon would offend. OTOH – we were always covered.

Anyway ….back to the lecture – one of the sights that I won’t be seeing tomorrow is the 99 Dome Mosque –

We ended our evening in the main dining room after receiving an invitation to dinner with an officer. This time it was Felipe who is the destination manager. It was interesting chatting with him – his background prior to joining the cruise industry was as a sergeant in the Brazilian military. The other person at the table turned out to be more than a bit on the conservative side. I am working on being, if not more careful about my insults, at least a bit less rude.

and progress is being made on my Relatively Small Ship of Life. Over half way…

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Sea Day 1/2

Today is a sea day, cruising along on a surface that is almost flat. We have significantly slowed since last night and our forward motion feels almost as smooth as glass. I am seeing people in the various lounges whom I wasn’t even sure were still on the ship post Hong Kong. There were the usual expected shipboard programs including trivia, chats, and music venues.

Unlike on transatlantic or pacific crossings, there are a serious number of cargo whips pacing us, or sailing in the opposite direction. This totally makes sense for goods transport in an area that is more island and island nations than large portions of land. Sea transport might not be anywhere near as rapid as air, but it is certainly seems more sensible and cost effective.

My day was spent quietly, mostly in our cabin where I could put on headphones and not have to deal with a stream of people stopping by to chat and ask how my knitting/embroidery/sewing was going. Cross stitch. Not any of the others… It was also a migraine day in which I finally caved, swallowed my meds and lost a good chunk of the day.

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Orangutans & Sun Bears

Sunrise just after 0600 and interesting islands that we passed.

We docked today in the commercial port belonging to Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia. Located about 4 miles from the city, we were warned ahead of time that taking a tour or using the shuttle bus were going to be the only way out of the port. Not an issue for us – The Orangutan Rehabilitation Center  and the Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Borneo are effectively co-located and there was a tour.  Both are NGO run and maintained.

First, the Orangutans: (and you can read about them here on Wiki). As you might expect, the numbers have decreased due to forest loss as they are primarily arboreal. Secondly, offspring stay with the mother for 4-6 years… The Center provides services, rehab and maintains viewing areas for twice a day feedings (a reason for people to pay to come watch). Please note – I am not trying to be cynical, but you have to have draw and hook to get new people in on a regular basis in an area that is not wealthy. Our ship was only the third this year….

But what you want are pictures! –

There are ropes and cables from various trees. The small ones seem to race along, sometimes upright and sometimes upside down and hanging by just a paw.

and then there are greens & bananas..

We had to move on to the Sun Bears (again – the Wiki Link) in order for others to get a look as well.  So out of one preserve and on to the second. Up paths and stairs to an observation platform.  At first they are not completely easy to see –

so cropping the picture –

you can at least see his nose a bit better.

They are the smallest bears – weighing in at 25- 65 kg and so much shorter than the North American grizzly (aka brown bear are 80-600 kg).

There was a top at the Central Market which I skipped.  The drive back was smooth and we passed –

many of these original houses are now small shops and restaurants according to the information we were provided. Given that this is an earthquake/tsunami/typhoon area the stilts make a lot of sense.

It is back to the ship, lunch and email catch-up. Next two days are sea days. Might pay for Wifi. Or might do a catch-up when we get to Indonesia.


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