Surprisingly, barely anybody noticed our two little tents hidden in the tall grass surrounding the monument. We were woken up by the roar of motorbikes rushing by, and climbed out as if we were the newborn cubs of the cement tiger itself. The villagers didn't seem to be too surprised – this might have solved the puzzle of where white people come from.
A short breakfast, a ride on a tomato truck, and we were in the forest. There was nobody in the ticket office, so there was nobody to pay an entrance fee to. That was just fine with us.
Kerinci didn't disappoint. Gibbons announced their presence in the canopy as soon as we entered the forest, and I almost brought one down when it lost its grip on a branch frightened by the flash of my camera. Orange leaf monkeys let me get much closer, even though they sat relatively low and watched me tear through the jungle towards them.
We climbed all day and set up camp - one two-person tent for the four of us. Our little home was very cold but also very cozy. We didn't bring much food, but as little as there was of it, it still required cooking. That turned out to be the biggest challenge of all – every square millimeter of forest around us was soggy and virtually impossible to burn. Shurik slaved for over three hours, using, among other things, a sleeping mat as bellows, before he was able to heat up some water Vova had found in a puddle in the forest.
Food was running out, and the cold didn't make life here very comfortable. One day we met a Singaporean birdwatcher with a guide, and he gave us what was left of his chocolate. It hit me how hippie we must look to him – four citizens of the world, all with higher education and about ready to hunt for squirrels to supplement our diet
of forest blackberries. But the way we look, and the way we are are two very different things. Sometimes, even some of our parents cannot tell the difference. But it has become our educated privilege to pick our own path, and it is our right, nay, our responsibility to ourselves and to the lifestyle we have chosen to avoid being distracted by how somebody who doesn't know us might perceive us.
We all fell in love with the serenity of Kerinci, and stayed three nights, keeping busy by boiling water, going on night walks, and playing everything from cards to charades.
Kirinci NP Gallery