Bagusbabe's Reflections

Day 11: Zoological Zeal

I tossed & turned last night. It was not a restful sleep. My alarm woke me, so it was just as well I set it. My Fitbit vibrated in my wrist 5 minutes later. I got up & showered. I chose a cool sundress, as I suspect today will be just as hot as yesterday. For good measure, I packed my ‘pram fan’ – a small battery operated fan on a gooseneck stand with a huge alligator clip. It is primarily designed for baby/toddler’s prams, the propellers are soft foam that won’t harm little fingers. I bought it on eBay and it arrived bigger than I expected. It fitted in my bag so I’ll bring it on it’s maiden voyage.

I was ready at reception when the Bali Zoo SUV arrived at 6:50am. It was emblazoned with Bali Zoo on the outside of the van. The inside was spotless. The driver was tall & stocky for a Balinese. I was his only passenger, so we chatted for the first 10 minutes or so of the journey. As we fell into an easy silence, I watched the changing scenery as we passed out of Sanur into Batubulan where the road became lined with businesses selling stoneware – large statues of Buddhas, Garudas, fountains, tigers, you name it & some craftsman has carved it. The traffic was quite busy with locals going to work, predominantly on motorbikes. I noticed there were policeman directing traffic at most busy intersections. There were even some female police officers, but they looked like they had a secondary role, and were not keepers of the whistle!

I knew the zoo was on the way to Ubud & I sort of knew where it was, having visited twice before – once during the day & another when I did the Night At The Zoo tour/dinner a couple of years ago. We turned into the entrance, which already looked different. The driver gave me a docket with his name on it. When I was ready to leave, reception would ring him to collect me. I was met at the entrance to the zoo by a guide & noticed that reception had moved, replaced by some exhibits. There was a tank with ?swordfish & a whopping big snake curled up on a log above. Next to it were otters! You had a birdseye view of them swimming past, playing like the perpetual hams that they were. Then there was another enclosure with meerkats, but I couldn’t see any from this side. I was guided to reception, gave my name & was given a paper ticket, a guide to zoo activities & a map. The guide then escorted me to the pick up zone. Along the way he asked if I liked spiders. Certainly not! I’ll show you a big one & we stopped at a tree that was overhanging the path & he pointed it out. It took several attempts before I could see it. It looked like an orb spider. It was pretty big. He said they jump, just like the one in the bush behind you. I whipped around to his amusement. Just kidding! I was led to an enclosure full of tables & chairs. There were three people sitting there waiting. An open double decker bus pulls up & then reverses close to a platform. We all head to the top level. A few minutes later, another group of four climbed aboard & we took off. The tropical gardens were lovely. We couldn’t see any animals but could hear them occasionally. Eventually we pulled up at a shelter next to a small gorge with a lake in it. A muddy brown lake. After disembarking, we followed a winding path, over a bridge towards the open air restaurant on the opposite side of the gorge.

We were the first to arrive. I exchanged my reception ticket for a numbered ticket & was shown to my table, on the edge of the restaurant facing the gorge & lake. The gorge from this angle looked man made, with carvings of elephants along the vertical wall. A waitress came over & announced that breakfast was served. There was a long buffet of breads, rolls, pastries, donuts, waffles, pancakes, cereals, baked beans, mie goreng, bacon, sausages, baked beans, juices, milk, tropical fruits, condiments & sauces, a toasting area & an egg station. Impressive. We could all see a platform a short distance from the restaurant with two young orangutans wrestling & playing with each other. Then next to them was an area of naked tree branches with tropical birds perched upon them. Next to that was a log rail with 2 Asian elephants on the other side.

I ate my fill. While eating, a second bus arrived on the other side of the lake & spewed a full bus load of people. There goes that theory that we would be the only ones! Several more buses arrived in 15-20 minute intervals. Ticket no. 1 was called. I was no. 3. Whilst waiting I went over to the birds & the keeper put a parrot on each of my outstretched arms. One was red & blue, the other predominantly green. He started to take photos when the red one started nibbling at my arm. The keeper admonished the bird & moved it a bit further up & took a few more shots. He took them off & put them on some branches. I saw a sulphur crested cockatoo & asked the keeper if it talks. No, but it is very friendly. It lay down its head for a scratch on the neck. I scratched its neck after the keeper demonstrated. Cool! I was given some numbered dockets to identify my photos. I moved on to the elephants – 2 females, 27 years old. Their mahouts were feeding them chunks of apple to keep them there. They weren’t tied up. One of the mahouts got his elephant to open her mouth so we could see her teeth & threw in some apple. She kept missing, but was quick to locate it on the ground with her trunk. As I was having my photo taken, one on the elephants started to wander off until her inattentive mahout was told by the photographer & called her back. More photo dockets given.

I heard no. 3 announced & waved my ticket. I popped my belongings next to a chair, used the hand sanitiser sitting on it & went to meet these gorgeous creatures. They were aged 4 & 5 years old. Children, with beautifully expressive eyes & cute little faces that would melt a snowman’s heart. Adorable. They had just finished eating some rambutans & were playing with the skins. They weren’t terribly co-operative for photo opportunities – one kept rolling into her back, spread-eagled. So it was more of a case of directing the humans around the platform & occasionally their keeper would sit them up or try to get their attention. We weren’t allowed to touch them, but they could touch us. The younger one tried to take my photo vouchers from my hand. The other showed me the rambutan skin. I imagine it must get boring & tiring for them doing this every morning. I was glad to be among the first for the morning before they get cranky & uncooperative, as young children do.

I sat down & checked the photos taken by the photographer with my iPhone. Most of them were pretty good. The photographer who took photos with the two elephants was tall, and from his angle, I looked like a midget standing next to the pachyderms. I walked over to the photo kiosk & had a look at the professional photos taken. I chose one with the orangutans. I was told I could collect it later. I walked back to the restaurant & asked a wandering staff member if we were free to go to the main zoo. He said there is an animal exhibition on now – elephants in the elephant pool (lake) & a porcupine was coming. I sat back at my table & watched 2 elephants enjoy their bath in the pool, until they slowly climbed out. On the edge of the restaurant was a funny looking armadillo that we were invited to touch. He didn’t look like a typical armadillo – he was quite long & thinner, with a snout like an anteater. In fact he was a pangolin, a type of anteater. These poor things are heavily poached for their scales & meat, despite being a protected species on the verge of extinction. The keeper picked him up by the tail & passed him around. He’s a nocturnal creature, so probably wasn’t thrilled having his sleep time interrupted by pass the pangolin. And he definitely was not a porcupine or an armadillo!

I decided to leave the restaurant & go to the main zoo. They were just calling out no. 18 for their time with the orangutans. I stopped by the photo kiosk & collected my photo. It was in a presentation folder & quite big. It looks good though. I could see people waiting at the bus shelter in the distance & slowly walked back there. The sun was fierce and it was only 9:30 in the morning. Some laborers were working on a new exhibit, taking rocks away. One elderly lady carried a basket full of rocks on her head. It must have weighed a ton!
The bus pulled up before I’d reached the shelter. I increased my speed to the delight of my sweat glands. I needn’t have rushed, as we sat there for another 5-10 minutes waiting for a couple of Japanese tourists.

Back at the main zoo, I followed the signs towards the gibbons. I could hear them, & when I found them they were going ape-shit in their cages. I wondered if it was feeding time. Each type of gibbon had a different call, & when they all called in unison it was very loud & noisy. A bit further on was an island with a high shelter on stilts, ropes & tropical jungle vegetation. The gibbons were calling out & a few younger ones were swinging Tarzan-like between the ropes. There was a group of metal table & chairs & I sat down for a few minutes, unearthed my fan & let the breeze cool me down. I continued to hold the fan as I wandered around, & received many comments from tourists & staff alike. Great fan! I wish I’d thought to bring a fan!

I watched a couple of sun bears eating coconuts, walked past the guinea pig exhibit (chuckled at that one), came across a couple of Sumatran tigers lazing in the heat, some crocs, snakes & an exhibit of porcupines, who were all asleep huddled together like giant puppies. My legs were weary & I’d seen what I wanted to see. I made my way back to reception & my driver was called. He’d be in for a shock, expecting me between noon & 2pm. It was 10:30am. About 10 minutes later he pulled up in front of me sitting on the steps. The drive back to Sanur was quicker, less traffic & no traffic police.

Back in my room, I looked through the photos again, posted some on Facebook & then lay down for a nana nap. I was stuffed. I slept for over an hour & felt a bit more human on waking. I walked down to the 3 monkeys for my favourite spicy chicken & green mango pizza. I struggled to eat it all. I considered going to the ATM, but it was so hot, I walked back to the hotel for a swim. After I had another nap.

Once I was relaxing poolside, I realised that Melly & Smokey were gone. Someone else was on their sun lounges & their poolside room looked vacant. I had to drag my sun lounge backwards to catch the shade from the umbrella. The sunshine was still intense. Feeling hot, I grabbed a noodle a got into the pool. It was warm. Not unpleasantly so. After a few minutes I acclimatised & the water felt refreshing. I floated & thoughts drifted. Back on my lounge, I read while I waited to dry.

After a shower & hair wash, I lay down for a short spell, trying to decide what I felt like for dinner. It was 5:30. I thought I’d try the night market which had everyone raving. My legs were still a bit achy, so I caught a taxi to the market. The vendor’s food carts were lined up in two rows under cover, preparing for the evening rush. Most had some trestle tables & chairs in front. The day stalls were in the process of packing up. I wandered up & down the rows, noting the bowls of food piled high behind the glass of each cart & trying to decipher which dishes they made. There were no cooking smells. There was an off putting smell of decay around the market – rotting fruit maybe? I decided not to stay, walking back out to the main road. There were quite a few silversmith shops along the road. I spotted The Glasshouse restaurant across the road & went in for dinner. I’d been here for lunch once & found it underwhelming. They have a slightly different menu for dinner. There were a couple drinking at the bar. I elected to sit inside, where I was the only customer. I ordered spring rolls for entree & coconut king tiger prawns for my main meal. They were both tasty. I finished off with their banoffee pie. I saw it from afar in the cake display fridge. What I thought was chocolate shell surrounding it was actually a tall brown patty pan casing. It contained sliced banana in caramel sauce, topped with cream – no crust. Yummy anyway.

I was able to hail a taxi with little effort for the short drive to my hotel. Despite 2 short naps today, I was really tired. I wasn’t reading for long before my eyelids started getting heavy. It was pretty early in the evening but I’m going to bed now like a real nanna. And I did.

Caio for now,


2 thoughts on “Day 11: Zoological Zeal

  1. Judith

    Considering the zoos and wildlife parks available in Oz, I’ve not been tempted to visit Bali Zoo but I’m now encouraged to do so after your excursion. We’ve done much sightseeing in Bali over the years and now becoming a bit lazy when holidaying but this may be a nice outing. Early morning, as you have suggested. Could not find your photos on Facebook. Cheers.

    1. bagusbabe Post author

      I’ll add some photos soon.

      Bali Zoo still has some work to do to improve its habitats, but they are working on it. I saw no evidence of drugging or ill treatment of any animals as suggested in some reviews, so can only report on my own experience. The orangutans were delightful to meet close up, even if it was only for a few minutes.

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