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JAKARTA - INDONESIA

Stuck in filthy, raining Jakarta for 4 days because a volcano was erupting in the area I was originally planning on visiting. Luckily I found a zoo to visit on the one sunny day I was here.

rain 35 °C

After my 5 days in Borneo, I flew to Jakarta, Indonesia. Jakarta was just supposed to be a one night thing before heading to Yogyakarta to see Borobudur (one of the top things I came to Indonesia to see), but as it turns out, Mt Kelut was erupting in that area!! No flights were being allowed to land or take off, over 100,000 people had been evacuated, and everything was covered in 2 inches of ash! So I canceled my flight and was stuck in filthy Jakarta for 4 days days rather than just one!!

I found a hotel in Jakarta on Expedia, but decided to not book it, but rather to just show up without a reservation and hopefully get an even better rate. My plan failed. The Expedia rate was $32 ... the rate I was quoted by just arriving was $98!!!! How can Expedia be less than half the price?! So I stood there in front of the desk clerk, whipped out my phone, and proceeded to book a room on Expedia at the cheaper rate. Then we stood there staring at eachother while he waited for my reservation to come through in his system, lol! Awkward.

The hotel was called NEO Tendean, and was awesome! Super modern, everything wonderfully clean, great staff, etc. My only complaint is that the one & only restaurant had a very limited menu of only spicy food. But other than that it was a great place to be stuck for 4 days. And again, I forgot to take photos of it. The views from my room on the other hand ... well, have a look and see.
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That river looked like the kind of river you'd see a dead body floating by in. But it was nice to be able to see into local life and take photos through my window without walking through the neighborhood like a tourist with my camera.
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Of the 4 days I was stuck here, 3 of them rained :( On my one sunny day, I headed to Ragunan Zoo. I thought that cab ride there was going to cost a fortune because it took at least 30min. But it was only $5 CAD :) And admission to the zoo was only 4500 Rupiah ($0.40!!!) I have no idea how they manage to pay the employees and feed all the animals with only 40 cents admission!! The zoo was HUGE! SO many animals, each with their own keepers / handlers.

The first thing I saw upon entering the gates, was a pond area full of massive pelicans! We have pelicans in Canada, but they're only about 1/3 of the size of these ones!! And I just loved the colors on their faces!
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At the gate you get a map, which is not in English, so good luck to you. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was there from 9am until closing time and only saw half of it!! So be sure to wear good shoes. I made the mistake of wearing flip flops, and my feet were killing me by the end of the day. There are few signs, which are also not in English (but that is to be expected, as I'm not at home any more, I dont expect the whole world to have everything in English just for me). But the signs usually had a photo as well, so a sign with a photo of a tiger should mean "tigers this way!" I made a bee-line to the tigers, cuz they are my favorite of the large cats, and I'd never seen one before!
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They're so cute, and orange, and stripey :)
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Yawning tiger
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He just wants a belly rub like all kitties :)
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Pooping tiger, lol!
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Grooming himself
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He looks like he's scheming on how to eat me for lunch!
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The bigger animals, like the tigers, lions, elephants, komodos, etc, were NOT in cages. They were in a 'pit' with a 'moat' around it. So people can be eye level with the animals, and dont have to worry about stupid cage bars obscuring their view, but are still safe because of the moat (which was about 15-20ft deep, and 10-15ft across). Here is a photo of an elephant in his enclosure so you can see what I mean. (Its alot deeper than it looks, but the foliage is filling it up).
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Asian Elephants look very different from their African cousins. I think they are actually quite homely looking compared to African Elephants. They have small droopy ears, rather than the huge open ears of their cousins. They also have hollow faces, 2 big bumps on tops of their heads, and are alot smaller. Here's a photo of an Asian elephant, followed by an African elephant I photographed in South Africa last year so you can see the difference.

Asian Elephant
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African Elephant - much more beautiful in my opinion. Those big ears make all the difference :)
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Elephant tail. The 'hair' is very wiry, and there were places selling bracelets made of elephant tail hair!
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Elephant foot
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And my favorite ... elephant trunk.
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Next up were the Malayan Sun Bears. My first time seeing a bear! I live in Canada, and apparently theres bears here, but I've never seen one.
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There were alot of orangutan enclosures throughout the park. I got to see a male orang which had the massive (and ugly) cheek pads. I'm very thankful I got to see orangutans in the wild in Borneo before seeing them here, because they are SO FAT in the zoo! Morbidly obese actually! Poor thing is so fat it cant even close its legs!!
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Male with its cheek pads. They should not be flopping over like that ... thats extra fat as well. And that 'bag' of fat hanging from his neck ... also not supposed to be there, all fat!!!
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It looks like he's giving me the finger, but he's really just holding up his fat face, lol!
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I came across another orangutan enclosure with another alpha male. His cheek pads were more normal sized, but look at those dreadlocks!!
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There are signs everywhere indicating not to feed the animals, but stupid tourists still throw cheezies to them. No wonder they are fat!
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Look at this thing! Doesnt it look like a man in a Sasquatch costume, lol?!
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Strange looking creatures thats for sure!
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So flexible!
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There were a few deer (not sure what kind) that were wandering around freely. But when they spotted me, they froze,and watched my every move.
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This racoon looks like he had a rough night, LOL!
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I walked around, and when I came back to the racoon he had switched to this position, hahaha!
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Black Tonkean Macaque
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Silver Leaf Monkey
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Gibbon
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Bintorang, aka Asian Bear Cat
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I'm not sure what kind of little antelope this was, cuz the sign was in Indonesian. But it was so tiny I could have held it in one hand!
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Within the zoo, there is a separate Primate Enclosure housing gorillas, more orangutans, chimps, and a variety of smaller monkeys. It has its own admission price of 6000 Rupiah (only $0.55). I walked around in that enclosure for at least an hour searching for the chimps & gorillas, but I just couldnt find them! Oh, I found their enclosures alright, but it was so big, with so many trees, that I probably walked right past them without seeing them. Theres even a skywalk / boardwalk thing up high so you can look down at them. Finally when I was about to give up I found 2 massive gorillas!!!
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They are seriously huge! Much, much bigger than a human! Taller, and twice as broad as a football player!!
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'Zoolander' gorilla giving me his best 'blue steal' pose
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I never realized how flat their faces were!
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Look how big his head is!!
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And last, but not least ... Komodo Dragons! These guys were another of my top reasons I chose to visit Indonesia. But now for my predicament ... I wanted my first Komodo sighting to be of wild dragons, not in a zoo! In a few days time I would be flying to Flores to go houseboating in Komodo National Park and hopefully see some Komodos in the wild ... but what if I didnt see any in the wild, and had passed on seeing them in the zoo?! I'd go home not seeing any! I've had such bad luck with wildlife in the past (going cage diving with Great Whites ... but not seeing any sharks; going whale watching ... and not seeing any whales), that in the end I decided to see them in the zoo.
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THEY WERE SO BIG!!! 9ft long! Like a massive black iguana, that walks like a crocodile, with a tongue like a snake!
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One good thing about deciding to see them in the zoo, is that I happened to arrive at feeding time!
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Their handler whistled and they came lumbering over like little dinosaurs. Just like dogs looking for a treat!
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Bird? What bird? I dont know what your talking about.
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I always thought Komodo Dragons were venomous, but all that slobber you see is not venom. Komodos actually have so much bacteria in their salivia, that one bite from a Komodo can kill by infection!
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Look how thick that tail is!!! It was as thick as my thigh!
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The handler and his pet dragon :)
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Thats all for Jakarta. I had one more day here, but it rained again. So in 4 days, all I got to do was visit the zoo.

Posted by ChantelleS 15:35 Archived in Malaysia Tagged wildlife indonesia elephant zoo city animal dragon tiger asia bear orangutan komodo Comments (0)

MAYAN RIVIERA, MEXICO

Playa del Carmen, Tulum & Isla Mujeres, Mexico Feb 24th - Mar 2nd, 2012

sunny 28 °C

Me & my best friend, Jo, traveled to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico for one week. We stayed at the Hacienda Vista Real hotel in Playacar (a suburb of Playa del Carmen). It was not all-inclusive, but did include a free pool-side breakfast each morning. It was only $85 per night, booked on Expedia. We felt we didnt need an all-inc resort, as we are huge sight-seers, and would never be at the resort to eat the 'free' food / beverages or participate in any of the offered activities. It was a 15min walk to the beach, which is probably the same distance as walking through a fancy schmancy 5 star resort anyways, lol!
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Just outside of our hotel were these Mayan ruins. Pretty sure they were fake though.
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The beach!
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Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited for my Chunky Monkey!
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I have to say, theres not a whole lot to do in Playa del Carmen, unless you love to shop for tacky souvenirs or sit at the beach. There is however, an array of exotic animals you can hold for a photo which they charge you $$ for, even though the photo is taken with your own camera, and is usually blurry & lop-sided. Definately not worth the $20 they were charging, but we couldnt resist the cuteness, and so spent an entire day walking up & down 5th Ave in search of wildlife. The first animal we came across was this adorable, blue-eyed 1.5 month old tiger cub!!
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Jo bottle feeding the baby tiger. Look at his big paw!
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Snoozing with a milk moustache :)
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Next we came across a little Squirrel Monkey. He was smelly, albeit cute.
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Me & a parrot
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We found a guy with 2 iguanas ... a momma & baby :) Jo has 1 on her head!
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Iguana kisses - I was terrified it would lick me, lol!
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Look what we found next! A 5 month old lion! She was heavy!
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I put my finger in the lion's mouth and she sucked on it like a soother! The guy said 'If you feel her trying to move your finger left or right (aka towards her teeth) pull your finger out!' Well duh! Just look at her eyes!
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Entertainers on 5th Ave
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Here is an odd looking spider we discovered!
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I had the urge to try on the biggest sombrero I could find!
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And the smallest, LOL!
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One morning we took a collectivo to the Mayan ruins of Tulum for only 70 pesos! Significantly cheaper than booking a $100 CAD tour. The collectivo drops u off on the hwy, but just follow everyone else to the ruins ... everyone will be going in the same direction. Its only a 2min walk. There is a train that comes by every few minutes to pick up passengers and take them to the admission gate. The train is only 20 pesos, or u can walk the 1km no problem. At the gate its 57 pesos to get in. There are guides for hire, but we went in without 1 as this was my 4th time there. Guide, or no guide, its still much cheaper than a tour. The grounds are very manicured, and full of tourists. Theres not too much to see other than El Castillo perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the blue Caribbean, a few smaller ruins (none of which you can climb or touch), and a beach for swimming. If your looking for more history, try Chichen Itza. If your looking for pyramids you can still climb, visit Palenque! Theres 8 pyramids there, 7 of which can still be climbed! (This will be in a later post).

When the guards werent looking, I snuck under a rope and climbed behind this small ruin for this photo, mwahaha! (thats my evil laugh)
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The beach by the ruins. If you only want to visit the beach, you still have to pay the admission, as the beach is inside the site.
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There were iguanas everywhere!
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One of the many pathways throughout the ruins.
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After exploring the ruins a bit, we relaxed at the beach.
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Huge cliffs & boulders on the beach!
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Another day we took a bus from Playa del Carmen to Cancun (1hr, 30 pesos), and then a collectivo from Cancun to Puerto Juarez where the ferries depart for the tiny island of Isla Mujeres (10min Cancun - Pto J, 6 pesos; ferry Pto J - Isla roundtrip 140 pesos). Once there, we rented a golf cart for the afternoon and toured the island in style (500 pesos for the golf cart til 5pm).
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The golf cart rental company provided us with a map of the town. We headed over to the Avalon Reef Club. We wanted to see the King's Pool, which is a natural pool carved into the rocky shore by the waves. Its located on the resort's grounds, but is a public spot ... you will be escorted to it by a guard, who then stands there and watches you like a hawk til you leave. But it was nothing exciting, I didnt even take a photo. The resort sure is nice though! I would definately stay there!
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Just look at that water! :)
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Welcome to Paradise!!
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After a quick dip in the ocean, we hopped back on our golf cart and headed to Punta Sur, the southern-most tip of the island, where El Garrafon Park is located. It cost 200 pesos for a half day admission. Theres a few restaurants within, that are all-inclusive, alcohol is also inc, as well as zip-lining, snorkeling, kayaking, hammocks, infinity pool, etc.
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There were some paths along the cliffs / ocean that we followed for some great views!
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After our walk we had lunch at 1 of the restaurants ... nachos & cheese, and quesadillas ... and strawberry daiquiris :)
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Then we did some zip-lining. If you've zip-lined before, then dont bother with this one, lol! But if its your first time, then its a good beginner course. I'd zip-lined before, and found it rather lame, but it was Jo's first time and she was terrified!
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The view from the 2nd zip-line platform of El Garrafon
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Well, thats all for the Mayan Riviera part of our trip. Stay tuned for posts on the ruins of Palenque, and Mexico City & the ruins of Teotihuacan :)

Posted by ChantelleS 11:34 Archived in Mexico Tagged wildlife beach ruins monkey mexico iguana del parrot playa tiger carmen mayan lion Comments (0)

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