Kandy, Sharing, Sri Lanka

Cats & Dogs in Kandy

I took care of dogs and cats for about a week along with local workers, a french girl volunteering, and Padma.

Working at an animal shelter near Kandy certainly opened my eyes once again to the lot of the lesser fortunate ones. Well, in fact, the dogs and cats who came to Padma’s place are the more fortunate ones. They are washed, fed, oiled with neem and coconut oil if they have some skin disease, and wherever they shit and piss, it’s gonna be cleaned up shortly. They are cuddled and taken on the lap if they allow it. Most have wounds, inner and outer, be it a lost friend (Rosie), an experience of being kidnapped (Charly) and being beaten into submission, being abandoned.

At this place around 160 dogs and 60 cats (July 2017) find some rest. Finally, they don’t have to fear some person who intend to hurt or harm them in any way. What a relief that must be! To find, after years and years, a place where you are welcomed, a place called home.

Here are some impressions of where I volunteered. Just amazing how much they hunger for affection…

   

   
This world is beautiful. This world is cruel. Both statements are true and untrue. It all depends on what the world is for you and me. I think the world gives each and every one his/her share. I also think that sometimes that world is considered ‘unfair’.

In which way is the world something you have extrapolated from your experience, something you get estranged from? In which way have you incorporated your experience to create a world you really like to live in, and: is your perception something you take responsibility for?

   

And how much time do you find to play, my friend?

   

After having been neutered, three dogs nap in my room until the anaesthesia wears off

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Sabah

This is fucking Borneo, man

   … or as Mr. Stanton would say: “Welcome to the jungle!

   

Peaceful people at a peaceful place


Where to begin? It’s been a while since I posted something. A lot has happened. A lot.

   

   
I volunteered on Kudat Peninsula, Sabah, to be precise: at the Tip of Borneo. For a couple of weeks I help the local workers to build a traditional longhouse. One afternoon we take down an old shower block (which is going to be reconstructed over the upcoming weeks) and spot some centipedes. Mosquitoes are having their breakfast, lunch, and dinner on my back. It’s a nuisance. Smoking eggtrays, DEET spray, full body armor make it bearable.

   

The Longhouse which will be covered with more than 1,000 pieces of atap (coconut leave tiles) stringed together. The old communal area in the background is still intact at this point.

  

After a couple of days I get used to the intense heat, too. Another day we devote ourselves fully to the destruction of the adjacent communal area (also to be renewed and extended throughout the following weeks/months). While Ken, one of the locals, removes a floor plank, a centipede crawls away and tries to hide under some bamboo walls. Ken puts on a glove, finds and takes the centipede, and cuts off its teeth (buka gigi=open teeth) to feed it to his lizard at home.

   

   

One evening we go for a swim in the ocean. Lightning strikes in the distance. A gigantic water sprout forms, sucking up ocean water. Clouds kilometres high. Along with giant monitor lizards, snakes, centipedes, sandflies (those lil’ suckers!), mosquitoes, red ants, spiders, falling coconuts, rats and cockroaches, time and time again we agree: “This is fuckin’ Borneo, man!”

   
Being a volunteer at Tampat Do Aman (meaning: Place of Peace) I work about five hourse a day. Together with Maarten (Belgium), Alex (Germany) and Feyra (Canada) I build chairs and benches for the interior of the longhouse. In the afternoon we chill at the beach. I wrote feedback on the workaway website. Here is an excerpt:

   

We burned the old wood right next to us. Some planks and poles were set aside to be recycled later on when wereconstructed (and extended) the buildings. Later two other volunteers joined in. Teamspirit was sempurna – perfect 🙂

HEAT was a constant companion throughout the three weeks I worked as a volunteer. But oooohh, how refreshing is a cool open air shower afterwards!

In the spare time I had time to … explore the Rungus museum and read anthropological research papers … chill at the beach, catch some waves, play volleyball, go snorkeling … walk to the Tip of Borneo or hang out with the guests … watch the stars, wildlife etc.

Painting, sawing, hammering. Working hard, together we made 15 chairs. Apart from that, with the help of some professional locals, I saw a traditional longhouse take shape; the foundation, the floor, the shelves, walls, roof… and being inquisitive, I also learned some more Malay and Rungus speak.

   
   


   

As much as I liked to work here, as much as I enjoyed being here for a while I am also happy to leave again. I come to notice that every little thing that I like – if I do it long enough, a month, a year, a decade, it gets boring and tedious. Thus, it is what I bring to a situation that makes a difference between boredom and excitement: it is my attitude of interest and enthusiasm. Whenever i get stuck somewhere in my life, it is usually because I find no purpose or cannot connect with my feelings that come up in a particular situation.

   

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Lundu, Sarawak

Workaway at Lundu

View from our resort (construction is planned to be finished end of 2017)

I wake up at sunrise today and walk a short distance along the beach to collect trash the tide has washed up on the shore. The air is still mild but it will become very very hot at around 8 a.m.

We are still in Sarawak. We leave our base camp at Check-In Lodge in lovely Kuching to go to Bako National Park and Semenggoh Wildlife Centre to see orangutans.

A mother with her baby in the forest of Borneo

With the arrival of May we decide to try the online volunteer-platform workaway for the first time. We find a place near Lundu which is located 90km west of Kuching. Along with other volunteers from Italy, Germany, Belgium, Scotland, Great Britain, Canada etc. we tend the garden, sand and paint window frames, clean the beach, and care for Bonnie.

   

Bonnie needs food, water, walks, regular showers, and pain killers for her left ear which got split in half during a fight with another bitch

The project aims at supporting the conservation, protection and habitat preservation of endangered wildlife species. In other words, part of the revenue goes to Project Orangutan and other well-established projects in the area.

Gardening is my chosen task; weeding and watering…

… planting new seedlings, changing the landscape, designing nature

Joy enjoys painting

For about two weeks this is my homebase from which my friends and I explore the surrounding area: Beaches and Waterfalls, National Parks and Wildlife Centres. More about this in the upcoming posts. Today we leave Kuching in order to hitchhike to Sabah. Since I’ve heard from various sources that pirates are in the east of Sabah I am going to avoid these areas and skip scuba diving at Semporna (East Sabah). Anything too close to the Philippines just doesn’t seem safe at that moment in time.

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