Sunday, 25 January 2015

Au Natural ...

Before I begin today's blog, TC has asked me to apologise on her behalf if she has offended any French nationals that read yesterday's posting: 'Jamu, Massage and The Foo!?' She said to let you know that she is not racist or ant-French in anyway and I quote: "Please also say: not only did she live in France for quite a while in her youth, but she also speaks fluent French."

There TC apology done, now you can come out of hiding ...

And so back to the blog ... It was Sunday morning and we were up and at 'em bright and early - well maybe not so much of the bright because it was 4:30 am and the sun wasn't due to rise for another hour or so! 

Yet again we were travelling 'Business' as opposed to 'Executive' on the train, but at least this time the AC was working, in fact so much so, that we had to ask them to turn it down as it was bloody freezing!

TC and I watched another two episodes of the Killing and with only one more left to go, my little friend decided to take a much needed toilet break. On returning to her seat I noticed she was looking a tad pale, I asked if the toilet was ok, to which she responded emphatically: "It's best not to talk about it".

We decided that considering we had over two hours left on the train, watching the final episode of The Killing Season One was the best distraction for her. And that it certainly was, leaving us both completely frustrated with the cliff hanger ending and me furious at TC because she had told me not to bother downloading Season Two back in the UK as " We won't have enough time to watch both seasons" - yeah right!

We arrived at our destination where our driver Brahm was waiting to greet us and take us on the one hour drive (humph, we could have watched another Episode of Season Two!!) to Pusat Pendidikan Lingkungan Hidup - Environmental Education Centre or PPLH for short (thankfully).

Situated on the western slopes of Penanggungan the conservation is set in the luscious, tropical forest in Seloliman Village. All the trees and plants have been grown from scratch over the years, with many of them dedicated to the centre by ex visitors and students.

There is an organic farm and herb gardens where amongst many things, Jamu can be made (oh oh not again), local paddy fields and above all fresh mountain air.

Our accomodation was in three of the eight bungalows, each one named after an animal (we were Monkey), and all the built form locally sourced materials. There is an assortment of accomodation including dormitories, where students coming to study enviroment and ecology (at the moment they are even running gender and community empowerment programmes)  etc ... stay.

To quote from the Intrepdi Travel brochure "PPLH is a not-for-profit, self supporting initiative and non government organisation (NGO)" and I would highly recommend paying them a visit should you find yourself over this neck of the woods - as it were.

The food here was pretty amazing and all of it is locally and organically produced (have I sold it to you yet?)

The one thing I should point out is that the 'ensuite' bathroom has two walls - yes you heard that right - the back wall where the door is and the toilet next to it and the side wall where the shower hangs.  I have to say it was quite a treat to be able to sit on the toilet literally contemplating the world outside!

Though TC balked at the idea of even going to the loo when we were advised to keep the seat down in case a frog should jump into the toilet and resurface at an inappropriate time!

Her trepidation about staying in these cute bungalows was enhanced when we stepped inside to find mosquitoe nets hanging over the beds and a candle in the corner of the room in case the hydro-electrical power shorted.

I have to say it was an amazing place to stay; so peaceful and tranquil. And everyone was so hospitable. So much so that I decided to just relax on our verandah for the afternoon while TC and the taller Jo went for a walk. It was also good for my Travel Companion and me to have some time out as things were getting a bit fraught between us. She was unnecessarily stressing that she was going to be eaten by various insects in the wild and I was pissed off because I'd tucked my money belt inside my clothes and asked "Does this look like I have a money belt hidden in my trousers or does it just make me look fat?" Her reply: "No it doesn't look like you have a money belt hidden down your trousers." I then got upset and tried to explain to my friend that as she had expressed no disagreement to the second part of my question, that I obviously did look fat, she denied that was what she meant but by then it was too late, I was in a sulk, she was tearful and the peace and tranquility in the Monkey Bungalow was no more!

And so after lunch, (by this point I had changed my top to a baggier one so as to hide the money belt hidden in my trousers), TC went on her walk around the conservation whilst I sat on the verandah writing and taking in the sights and sounds of nature. 

It didn't take long for the rain to start up (again) and soon after a couple of the guys from the kitchen turned up with a thermos flask filled with hot water and said to me "This is for you to make tea or coffee that you have brought over from your homeland". 

An hour later the walk was over and I joined TC and the two Jos on their verandah for tea and biccies whereby TC proudly showed me a rather large bite on her foot that she had received from a spider! (Well at least until her mind off her mosquito bites!)

Dinner that night was fresh and delicious, followed by a little 'pub quiz' written by Sally and then we all retired for the night to our respective bungalows with TC ensuring our bathroom door was shut properly so that no grizzly bears could come in during the night and eat us - though somehow I think the chances of that happening are slim!

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