Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Big Nosed Proboscis Monkeys of Brunei

A big thing on my Brunei wish list was to see the majestic proboscis monkey.

Look at the schnoz on this guy! I borrowed both of these from Wikipedia.

Hilariously Wikipedia says that in "Indonesian the monkey is called monyet belanda ("Dutch monkey") or orang belanda ("Dutchman"), as Indonesians considered that the Dutch colonisers often had similarly large bellies and noses." A savage takedown of the Dutch.

The bummer about having a wild animal sighting high on your trip wish list is that you can't guarantee that you'll see it. I'm still mad about not seeing the Northern Lights despite buying a Northern Lights Tour in Iceland in 2012. An intensification to said bummer is that the island of Borneo is the only place these Dutch-looking beauties live, and I've already checked the other Borneo nations of Malaysia and Indonesia off my list. So these are the stakes: either I will achieve giant nosed glory or be haunted by failure the rest of my days.

Speaking of glorious, how bout this yellow watermelon at the hotel breakfast this morning. What will they think of next?

These things look like homemade Tide Pods. Not falling for that again.

Trusted guide Erick from yesterday picked me up at the hotel and took me back to the same dock for some more boat action. 

This time our vessel was a nice normal motorboat water taxi with passengers including only myself, Erick, and the boat guy... who's name I failed to grab but I'm going to call Clark because his boat was covered in Superman stickers.

I was fascinated with the Kampong Ayer water village. There were all sorts of houses on stilts built along the river bank.

There was even a stilt mosque.

Ok this was pretty cool, but not as cool as the actually floating Vung Vieng Fishing Village in Vietnam.

Erick was rocking his Muslim taqiyah prayer cap today.

There were some crocodiles or alligators.... let's be honest people it's the same damn animal.

I spotted a proboscis monkey's orange body in a tree like 25 minutes after we left shore. So... I guess that's it. Turn the boat around.

We did a little bird watching as well. I believe this is a common kingfisher.

Each little glimpse I got of a monkey was exciting but I hadn't seen nothing yet.

A sandpiper lookin' to eat a fool.

Then we turned it up a notch. There was a whole pack of the little chubby guys on the river bank.

Man this was cool. I watched them for quite a while. They jumped from tree to tree quite a bit but I don't recall them doing much else. The babies were doing some roughhousing in a nearby palm tree.

This little guy at the top of the tree was my favorite. I guess the giant nose on the males are for sort of honking vocalizations but I don't recall them having much to say on this occasion. 

These chunky monkeys jumping around was very amusing. They are definitely not built for flight.

Well I'd say that was monkey mission accomplished.

The rain really minded it’s manners today. There was a little to start the trip but it stopped when we entered monkey territory. It started up again soon after we left monkey time. 

All that monkey-watching got me parched. It was time to head over to Clark's water house for some tea.

The river had not been kind to some of these stilted dwellings.

I'm not going out like this, I can tell you that.

These guys were not messing around with their space saving techniques.

I took some quick shots of their house when I didn't think anyone was looking. I didn't want them to think I was a creeper but also... I am a creeper. It's a delicate balance.

They were serving some traditional cakes that were really fun. I'm not sure how many guests they were expecting though. I felt kind of bad when I had a couple and left... 40 more on the table. Yes I'm American, no I don't want 40 cakes. Yes I would eat a cheeseburger if you have one.

These green guys wrapped in palm leaves are called jelurut. Wikipedia: "Gula jawa (palm sugar), pandan leaf, salt and water are boiled until done and mixed with coconut milk. This sweet liquid then being poured upon rice flour and sago or tapioca flour, and mixed evenly. The janur or young coconut leaf rolled to form a long cone, similar to a small trumpet, secured and arranged upright. The thick-liquid sweet dough then filled into this coconut leaf cones until three-quarter full. Then the top section is filled with the mixture of coconut milk, rice flour and salt. These filled cones then being steamed for about 15 minutes until the dough inside the cone are cooked and hardened."

In southeast Asia you will often see green desserts, and these are often going to contain pandan. While I've eaten it several times now it's always in such exotic dishes that I haven't the slightest idea what it tastes like.

This was a fluffy sort of sponge in another fun little leaf package.

Clark took us back to shore and we said goodbye.

We checked out Tamu Kianggeh, the local open air market. Erick talked about how Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah built this area for the people because their previous setup wasn't getting the job done. The Sultan was at one time the richest person in the world, and after Queen Elizabeth II, is the world's second longest-reigning current monarch.

I saw a couple of teenage girls working a market stall who were goofing around in front of their cell phone. "They are doing TikTok." I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not cool anymore.

I purchased a little coconut sip.

Now it was time to do some mosquing.

Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the prettiest dome of all?

The Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is one of two national mosques. It was completed in 1994 and can accomodate 5,000 worshippers.

Inlays for days.

Erick showed me how to wash up before prayer.

The donation boxes were some serious looking safes. Who the heck steals from a mosque? And... how much are people donating?

They gave me a pretty sweet wizard robe to wear.

The Istana Nurul Iman is the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, and the seat of the Brunei government. I couldn't really see much from the gate, but I'm assured that it's cool in there.

The Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is the other national mosque of Brunei. Wikipedia says that the "mosque unites Mughal architecture and Malay styles." The Taj Mahal is the most famous example of Mughal architecture, which your boy adventured at. I don't like to brag. 

Got another sweet Harry Potter costume to wear. Against my will.

I was surprised to see that our lunch stop, De'Hayat Cafe (Soto Pabo), had root beer. I consider that a pretty American flavor that a lot of other countries do not care for.

Next we headed over to the Malay Technology Museum. "The building was donated by the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies, in conjunction with the Sultanate's independence in 1984."

They had a cool set up of how the water village I had tea at this morning, Kampong Ayer, looked in the 1800s.

These were fish traps.

Baby cannons.

Next was the Brunei Arts and Handicraft Centre. It was a sort of like a traditional craft academy where you could buy what the students made.

I think Erick was annoyed when I was entranced by this children's quran reciting competition on tv.

Are you crying? Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There's no crying! THERE'S NO CRYING IN QURAN!

Last but not least on my tour was the Royal Regalia Museum.

So I guess the deal is that when the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah celebrates his Silver and Golden Jubilee of his rule of Brunei, they have big parade processions. A lot of the... parade floats? and uniforms and stuff were on display. There were also a large number of objects that other leaders had gifted to the Sultan. Inexplicably I wasn't allowed to take pictures of any of that stuff. Ok.

The gift shop had a lot of fun trinkets with Brunei crude oil inside.

After an awesome but exhausting day of learning and partying with monkeys, I was like... Erick just drop me off at the mall.

The Mall Gadong did not disappoint me.

Pizza Hut had black volcano pizza. It had black crust. It had cheesy lava. It had... I want to say a pile of smoked salmon with a lemon wedge in the middle. What the hell else do you want?

Brunei Dairy Queen put to rest once and for all the question as to whether a hotdog is a sandwich: hell yes it is.

There was a tart shop with the stinky durian flavor available so I had to go for that. "Only for a Musang King. Presenting the latest mouthwatering Musang King of fruits tarts."

The mall had a completely unnecessary yet completely awesome Royal Brunei Airlines mural on the ceiling.

Had a lil iced chai.

That was a serious day. Going to have to do some relaxing tomorrow.

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