Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chagar Hutang, Pulau Redang

This little trip happened a long time ago before this blog even came into existence. I was looking through my pictures and so, here they are!

Baby turtle
This was actually a week long volunteer program with Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU) of the university in Terengganu. Here's the website if you are interested:

Rescued babies out of the sand where red ants were going to eat them
Chagar Hutang is a beach, part of Redang Island, where the turtles come to nest. To protect the turtles, no boats are allowed to land here other than the boat that takes the volunteers (8 people per week) there every saturday. Once you get here, you'll live at the volunteer quarters here for a week with only each other and a few workers from the university (they do the heavy turtle lifting and digging that us puny volunteers can't do) for company. No cellphone reception, no internet, enough electricity to keep the contents of the fridge lukewarm - you'll basically be cut off from the world.

Small waterfall
Apart from the usual turtle saving activities, we got taken out to go snorkelling and jungle trekking.. The usual turtle saving activities would be: cleaning up the beach every morning, checking on the nests, looking out for predators (lizards and fire ants), patrolling the beach at night for nesting turtles, making sure the said turtles can find their way back into the water, and also chasing off any boats that try to land on the beach.

hatched turtle eggs
Lots of people love this program! As for me, it had its moments of happiness. But would I go back? No. The good parts weren't enough to compensate for the parts I didn't like so much. It was a combination of circumstances and my pampered self, really, more than any real shortcomings with the volunteer program itself. Plus the weather really sucked when I was there as it was raining nearly every day.

Including Chagar Hutang, I had two beach holidays (this was more a holiday of sorts than any real volunteer work) last year and they were both frustrating experiences which I hope I don't have to repeat. Initially I thought that the reason the ocean made me miserable as hell last year is because I'm just not a beach person.
But then I went to Vietnam this year and I realized, I love the beach! So in conclusion, my unhappy experiences were just a result of bad luck and bad inappropriate company.

footprints in damp sand
You'll have to book extremely early to get a spot on this program, since it is immensely popular. By early, I mean the very day that they open bookings for that year. Even that, no guarantees.. When I went, it was RM250 per person for the whole week (Malaysian student price) but now it is up to RM400. It was an experience alright, one I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

Prawn spa

A short walk into the jungle from the volunteer accommodation will get you to this river (pond? base of waterfall?) with plenty of prawns in it. Grab a seat (rock), dip your feet in and enjoy nature's own prawn spa as the tiny prawns will happily nibble away at the dead skin on your feet. All natural exfoliation and the prawns do a pretty good job at it.

stream leading to the ocean

Moss that felt surprisingly squishy and soft to the touch

Hammocks for daily afternoon siesta

Trying hard to get out of the box

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