25 April 2009

I Should Tangkoko . . . Or Maybe Not!

The second reason for us coming to Sulawesi was to try and see some Tarsiers.

Tarsiers are the worlds smallest primate and are only found on Sulawesi and in parts of the Philippines. They have huge boggly eyes, big flappy ears and unusually long fingers. They look something like a cross between an owl, E.T. and Gizmo from Gremlins. They may sound a little strange but they are possibly the cutest critter out there.

Apparently the best place to see tarsiers is the Tangkoko-Batuangas Dua Saudara Nature Reserve. So on Wednesday we left Bunaken Island and headed across the Northern most tip of Sulawesi to the Pulisan Jungle Beach Resort, which lies just outside the Tangkoko Reserve.

The accommodation at Pulisan was really nice. We had a lovely bungalow that was right on the beach front, looking out to sea across a jungle covered bay peppered with volcanoes. It was a really beautiful spot.

Sadly though the house reef, which lies just off shore, was destroyed in December when a 3 day tidal surge flattened the coral. This meant that most of the coral lay dead in the shallows or scattered across the beach. Handy for a few photos but not much good for snorkeling (or the fish).

We had intended to use Pulisan as a base for exploring the Tangkoko Reserve, but, and I'm not sure I can word this without offending the owner of Pulisan, the price of the excursion seemed like a bloody rip-off. The resort was really isolated, more so than at Bunaken Village, with no phone or internet connection to the outside world. The nearest road is a 15 minute trek through the jungle and the nearest town an hours drive away. This meant that unless you could get a signal on your mobile phone and had the number for a driver you were at the mercy of the resort owner for transport. This lack of competition for transport effectively meant that they could charge what they liked. The cost of the trip for 2 to Tangkoko was roughly £70 of which £10 was for the park entry and guide fee. This meant that the remaining £60 was for the 30 minute boat trip across the bay (in the resort owners boat). This seemed a complete joke to us. We could see the reserve across the bay and it was considerably less than the distance from Torquay to Brixham which costs a mere £6 return on the Western Lady! In the end we decided that we weren't going to be held ransom to the price so we didn't go and see the tarsiers. We'll have to make do with this picture instead . . .

In spite of our perception that the owner was charging extortionate prices for her excursions we still had a really nice stay at Pulisan. Instead of looking at tarsiers we spent our time exploring the coastline and relaxing on the beach.

Although the setup was very similar to on Bunaken, with all of the meals being taken in the resort, it didn't have that same clostraphobic feeling. The food was great and the staff were really friendly too. We particularly liked Bobby . . . the black macaque. He was a really friendly monkey adorned with a rather natty looking Hoxton fin type haircut!

One day though he got a little too friendly with one of the other guests when he escaped from his cage and jumped 6ft out of a palm tree onto a woman sun bathing. Here he is trying to get a little too close to me . . .

Pulisan also provided us with our first encounter with the traditional Indonesian bathroom known as a mandi. A mandi contains a large vat of water and a bucket. To flush the toilet you simply fill the bucket from the vat and pour it down the toilet bowl. If you want a shower it's bucket over the head time. No toilet paper in the loo? Bucket and your left hand (we always have a spare roll!).

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