Saturday, 20 June 2015

19th-21st June - Friwin Island - best snorkeling - dolphins - robbers - Wallace's hut - jungle trek - birds of paradise - kingfishers - osprey

Friday 19th June 2015

 0 degrees 28.190S
130 degrees 41.699E
Friwin Island
Beautiful coral and many fish

Friwin Island- best ever anchorage, as far as I am concerned.  Very beautiful, with the most glorious snorkeling possibilities.  And – line of sight of towers so we get internet!  What more could I want??  (Well actually…I only had internet connection for one brief shining moment…it now just cuts out after two seconds…)

We were welcomed in by a gentle pod of dolphins, lazily splashing around, getting a feed, quite close to 2XS.  John and I went straight in and swam out to where they were.  Or rather, to where they weren’t….

But it didn’t really matter because we had clouds of fish all around us, and fabulous coral formations.

Yesterday we were idly chatting about one of our favorite topics- how fortunate we are, never to have been robbed.  Other people have lost all manner of precious items – furling ropes, dinghies, engines, computers.  Mark and Heather (SV Ajax) lost their steering wheel, amongst other necessities, in Langkawi,  and had to drive the boat back to Australia with a big spanner attached to the column!  I heard of an extreme case where some people were attacked on their boat (in the Caribbean) and then the badboys leapt into the sea to escape to their little boats, carrying computers and cameras with them as they swam…But we haven’t ever lost anything, although our security is not what you could really call…secure.

Waisai marina, scene of the crime
But things have now changed…When we were hastily getting ready to go and swim with our dolphinfriends, we went to our pile of gear and found it depleted.  Pete’s and John’s masks and snorkels have gone; mine is still here – why??  And why didn’t they take the binoculars, easily available, or the flippers??  We a bit sad, and annoyed, about this.  We can no longer boast of our good fortune re robbers!  (But yes of course I am very grateful they didn’t take my very precious mask and snorkel…But they did take my big pump bottle of shampoo…)

Depleted pile of snorkelling gear
It probably happened in the morning, when we left the boat for an hour or so.  I went into town in the pouring rain, on the back of a motorbike, to get more pulsar (top-up) for my modem.  On the way to waylay a random bikie, Pete wanted to show John and me the nearby fish farm, a very modern affair.  We walked around and couldn’t find anyone at all, just a strange sign on a big yellow tank – Where are you do going?  I don’t pless.  I’m sorry.  Hmmmm…mysterious!  

After a bit of poking around, we found a nice, smiling man, who let us in to look at the big brown fish in the tanks.  They seemed to have enough room to be comfortable, and this must be a better way for a fish destined to be eaten to die, swiftly euthanased…Better than hooks and nets??

Farm fish
Tomorrow at dawn (well 5am, pre-dawn,) we are going on an expedition with Simon, to see birds of paradise, and Wallace’s hut. 

I am wildly excited about this; Pete not so much…he really doesn’t enjoy 5am…Simon has been visiting, back and forth from his village, with information about his tour.  He doesn’t speak much English at all but is a very good communicator.  He managed to mime NO HUNTING and NO FISHING, and as he left in his canoe, he did a bird of paradise dance for me…

Saturday 20th June

I think I was a bit over-stimulated by the idea of seeing these fabulous birds…I don’t think I slept at all!  Every single position – side, other side, back, front – was even more uncomfortable than the last.  I was very happy when it was 4.15am and I could finally get up and clatter around with the kettle.

Simon picked us up in his leaky outrigger canoe in the pitch black dark at exactly 5am.  I was a teensy bit upset as we left 2XS because I had very cleverly managed to put my sunglasses inside my hat and then as I arranged myself on the little wooden bench seat out slipped the glasses, never to be seen again…they were of course my Good Ones.  As it turned out I didn’t need sunglasses or hat; we were venturing into deepest darkest jungle territory!

And yes it was all totally fabulous!!

Simon's trek track

Eventually we got to the top just as the sky began to lighten.  Simon has constructed a hide, where we could remain, well, hidden, to look out at the trees, and possibly at a bird of paradise nest.  (Simon was a good communicator but his English is about as sketchy as Pete’s and my Bahasa so maybe there were many misunderstandings.)
We sat quite happily on our log bench, nicely hidden in the hide.  Occasionally Simon made some sort of birdy noises, but mostly we just sat quietly.  On the way up we had heard SQUAWK, flap, whoosh, so we knew there were giant hornbills around.  I thought maybe that would be it, for bird activity.  But no!!

Pete and Simon waiting quietly
Suddenly there was a whole lot of flapping and singing and there they were, two male birds of paradise, out doing their dance, shaking their wings, waving their long tail feathers, doing all they could to entice a female!

The female resolutely ignored them and didn’t come out to join the dance.  John sighed deeply.  “That’s females for you,” he said.  “Look at him – he is actually standing on his head and she is not in the least interested!”

upside down dancing
I didn’t need my shoes either; the path was very steep and very slippery and I had to emulate Simon, with his big broad bare feet, and trust to the softness of the undergrowth.  (He was very impressed…He was also impressed when we stopped for a breather - it was a very high steep path - and he asked how old we were.  “In Papua, no can do!” he said, expressively when he heard how very ancient we all are.  “And man penis no good, when as old as you!!!” miming a graphic lack of…well of penile activity… He looked enquiringly at John and Pete but I let them answer for themselves and their penises. 

Coming out of the hide into sunlight (Pete, Marguerite, John)
Simon was a very nice man, kind and considerate.  He made sure I wasn’t going to go slippy sliding down the hill.  The path is steep and long and very slippery, but Simon has made handrails all the way to the top.  This must take an enormous amount of maintenance – everything goes soggy and soft and mouldy in no time, in the hot wet jungle!

Marguerite with Simon the Protector
We stayed for quite a while, happy as could be to be sharing this hilltop with such fabulous birds.

And then it was…down the hill… Fortunately we could see by then; the sun had come out and there was light in the jungle.  But I was very glad of the handrails!  Without them I would have had to slide on my bottom, all the way.

Good thing I didn't tread on one of these…not poisonous but very squishy!!
At the bottom we stopped to look at Wallace’s tiny hut.  He stayed there, or so they say, for six weeks while he examined the wildlife and took particular note of red birds of paradise.  He must have been very cramped, at 6’1”, in this small space!

So must the lone Japanese soldier who hid out in this small damp cave in the creek bed which Simon showed us…

And then back to the jetty to wash our feet and to clamber back into the canoe. 

Simon came on board and had a cup of tea while I printed off some photos for him, and while we all wrote words of praise and encouragement in his little log book.

I think today is all about the birds!  While I was making the post-breakfast coffee, John called to show me a big hawk sitting on a tree nearby.  (I think it is an eagle but John and Pete are adamant about its hawkishness and…they are probably right.  3 hours later….Aha!  I looked it up in my bird book and it is unmistakably – an osprey!)

Not only hawks, hornbills and birds of paradise, but also…dear little kingfishers!

Yesterday I spent five hours in the water…swimming up and down the reef, and cleaning the hull.  Today I think the fish and the coral are calling to me but…I need to have another cup of coffee and a bit of a rest to recover from the fabulous jungle trek!

Pete and John are hard at work…they are fashioning some rowlocks for the paddles – the new dinghy, while very splendid, doesn’t have any such thing.  This will improve our paddling life!

Three hours later

This afternoon, after we had recuperated from The Trek, John and I went for a swim out to the big bommies out in the deep water on the reef. It was low tide and we had an amazing time swimming along with a large school of great big bumpheaded wrasse.  John said they reminded him of bison, and I thought they were quite bovine too.  The big bull-like males kept herding up the women and children, and bossing them around.  They all ignored us completely, and John said that if he had had a weapon he would have been able to whack one of them and bring 30 kilos of fresh fish back to 2XS.  Fortunately for the wrasse and for the boat fridge, he didn’t have a weapon…

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you were looking pretty hot, soggy and not so mouldy yourself. Oh and I guess Simon hadn't heard about Viagra!