The night before took us exploring abandoned shacks, closed forest trails, and bat caves. I treaded carefully – a month of New York sidewalks left me worried more about how my shoes look than what they are stepping onto. But Bukit Lawang – home to the orangutan sanctuary - was an easy enough transition. It is one of the very few places on Sumatra that do see some bule, white tourists, and even though the main street is a wide river crossed by long narrow hanging bridges, it has enough semi-flat sidewalks not to break your ankles on.
Asian false vampire bats we found in an abandoned building at night
Walking to the sanctuary, we saw our first orangutan. It was on the other side of the river, in low light, but thanks to my new flash and flash extender (which looks monstrously impressive, though adds over half a kilo to my now 450D + 500mm setup) I was able to get him and his pineapple.
North Sumatra Gallery
Speaking of my camera – I almost ended up going to Indonesia without it! Shurik sent it for cleaning and warranty repair (the stabilizer was acting up), but after the report on it came back with the words "Dirty, filthy, coating peeling, full of scratches" the company ordered some parts for it from Japan and seemed to forget about it. A week before our departure I called the company and spent hours on the phone convincing them my life and livelihood depended on this lens, and finally they found the parts they needed and sent it back to me on the day of our flight. Now, in Bukit Lawang, I narrowed in on my subject and was ready to take my first shot since Africa when the whole camera almost jumped out of my hands, vibrating like a sex toy with fresh batteries. I was about to send the lens back with a note suggesting the technician responsible takes a macro of his colon with it, but after another few less than satisfying gyrations - the lens quieted down. It's been behaving ever since.