Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Bali - Kuta (2nd ed)


Wednesday 13/08 - Friday 15/08

As we only arrived at 12 the night before, we had a lovely little lie-in in our pod like compartments.  Even though we were exhausted, we did notice a certain lumo pink water-proof bag that we suspected could be a certain Miss Kimmy's, who we had met on our last visit to Kuta.  Alas when we checked the bed nobody was to be found and we resigned ourselves to solving the mystery in the morning...
As we were enjoying our complimentary tea and toast for breakfast, our suspicions were confirmed and who came waltzing through the door - but Kim herself!! We were delighted to meet up with our Scottish friend and might have had a very extended breakfast and chat up session after that...

In Jogja the hostel's internet and computers were always down and as it was such a jam-packed few days, we had severely neglected the blog and desperately needed to uploaded our millions of temple and volcano pictures onto the cloud.  So even though we were excited to see Kim and hang out on the vibrant (a euphemism for over-crowded) Kuta beach, we had to stay strong and boring and spend the whole day doing admin (in our pajamas) in the hostel's lobby.  We didn't even go out with the girls that night despite them getting all dressed up with pretty face paint as well.  Well done us:) 

Even though we had always thought of Kuta as a soulless place, with only debauchery and no culture, one of the girls at the hostel told us about the Bali Sea Turtle Society. It is a non-profit organisation that protects sea turtles in the area.  They even had a centre right on the Kuta beach that looked after turtle eggs until the babies hatched and were ready to be released.  Part of the centre's effort to raise awareness about the conservation of turtles was to allow tourists and locals to help release the newly hatched turtles back into the sea every day at 4pm.  This was definitely an initiative we wanted to be apart of. 

As we arrived we were given a turtle helper sticker and stood waiting for the action to happen. 
We were then addressed by the face of the programme, affectionately known as Mr Turtle.  He told us that in the wild usually only 20% of the turtles actually make it out of the nest alive and of those turtles only one out of hundred will make it back to the shore one day to reproduce. The centre greatly heps to increase turtle numbers, as 80% of the eggs that they rear hatch successfully.  

Mr Turtle 
After our educational talk, we were each handed a plastic bowl and the centre's volunteers put a turtle in each of our bowls from the newly hatched turtles which were all testing their flippers in a bucket of water.  

Bucket of little ninja turtles 

Rox's turtle in the plastic bowl 

After we had all been given a turtle (and named them) we all headed onto the beach, where we once again lined up as the turtle races were about to begin...

Joy and Rox at the starting line with their respective turtles - who is going to win???? The tension is tangible! 

Rox's turtle has his eye on that finish line 

On your marks, get set, GO!!!

And they are off...

                            Rox giving her turtle 'Martin' encouragement 

The crowds had gathered to watch the races 

As one can see from this video clip, Mr Turtle is very passionate about turtles and uses his microphone to send them off in style.  


Joy's turtle 'Denzel' making his way (slowly) into the waves  

After we were satisfied that we had given our little turtles the best send-off possible, we headed back to the centre to return our plastic bowls.  Once there we were shown were they keep the turtle eggs buried in the sand before they hatch.  The programme sources the turtle nests from the wild, where volunteers and locals report when a mother turtle lays her eggs.  They then carefully excavate the eggs and relocate them to the sandpit.

The Sand Pit 

It is in this sand pit that the baby turtles are born, break through their shells and burrow to the surface. 

A nest of turtles hatching 

The reason the centre has a much greater success hatching rate than the turtles left to hatch in the wild is that once the turtles start to hatch, the volunteers carefully help to dig up the sand and make it easier for them to make it to the surface.   

The volunteers also help to increase the survival rate by helping some of the weaker turtles to break free from their egg shells.  

This one is going to make it 

They even let us help to turn the little turtles that had fallen over to get back up on their feet 

Joy doing her part to save the environment 

Once all the turtle have hatched and made it to the surface, they are placed in a bucket overnight and will be released the following day at 4pm to the delight of many adoring fans. 

While we were at the centre saving lives, we met an infectious little girl from the UK called India.  Her and her parents had taken off a year to travel around the world and support nature conservation projects.  She even had her own little blog going.  At last we had a kid around to pretend that all our childish photo antics were her ideas! 

Crazy pic (Joy clearly didn't get the memo) 

Cute pic 
And of course we couldn't resist posing next to the giant turtle art piece
Kim and India 

Rox and India 

Joy and India 
              Kim and India holding up the heavy head

What a friendly creature - he likes being scratched 

We eventually had to let India get back to her serious blog and home school homework, so us 'adults' hit the beach for some fun sunset photos.  

Kim coaxing Rox to get into the mood 

Jazz hands 

All together now

Joy and Kim playing catch with the sun
And now the best individual shots 


We finally took a picture of this memorial because for days we had been seeing all the other tourists to this (we still don't know what it was there for)  
We had heard from the centre that as it was turtle breeding season that if we came back in the evening and went on a patrol with one of the rangers, there was a good chance that we would get to see a mother turtle swim up onto shore and lay her average of a hundred eggs.  We were keen!! However, we had planned to go out that night, as this would be our last time with Kimmy, so we got dressed up before we hit the beach that evening.  

In Indonesia turtle soup and other turtle meat is a delicacy amongst the locals, which is one of the reasons that the numbers of turtles in this country had dwindled in the past.  But this programme specifically sets out to educate the locals about the importance of conserving this creature.  It is for this reason that the programme employs local rangers to comb the beach for the turtle nests and trains them in the art of successfully excavating the eggs.  These rangers then in turn also work closely with their communities especially with regard to the reporting of turtle nests.  
Our local turtle patrol ranger  

We first started by combing the beach in search of mother turtles.  Whilst walking along the seashore we came across a group of people trying to light a Chinese lantern, which didn't seem to be working so we swiftly moved on in search of real awesomeness.  

Chinese lantern 

Once we had walked about 2 kilometres down the beach, we decided this would be a good spot to wait for turtles to swim to shore with the in-coming tide.

Our search party consisted of Yen (from Vietnam), another Kim (from Whales), Rox and Joy 

We sat down and let the professional ranger carry on to the next point, which was another kilometre away.  Even though it was really peaceful to watch the tide come in under the stars, we unfortunately never got to see any mother turtles coming to shore to lay her eggs. We quickly got over our disappointment as we went back to the hostel to fetch Kimmy and then hit the town...

Girls' night out 

Duck faces 

We headed for a little bar that we had spotted on the way to turtle scouting, which had drinks specials and a choose-you-own-tunes sounds system.  After that we headed to our favourite club (M bar) and then headed to the more commercial and hip hop and dub-step club Eikon until 4am.  Needless to say, it was an apt last night in Kuta.    

Joy and Kimmy showing the sign some 'Love' before they were chased away by some security guards for violating the hotel's prim and proper image (can't take these girls anywhere!) 

 Then it was munchie food time and tea at the hostel and then bed time.  We had to wake up early the next morning for our pick up to the ferry. However, Rox put off her alarm in her sleep and instead of being ready for our lift at 7am, we overslept until 7.30am!! Luckily as most things in Asia, our transport was late.  So in a flash we got dressed, packed, paid and check out and even managed to make a 'pad kos' breakfast to eat on the way, by the time the driver arrived at 7.45.  That was really cutting it close!  

We then drove for an hour to the port where we then boarded the fast boat ferry to the Indonesian Island of Gilli T.       

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