Nick's Travel Bug http://nickstravelbug.com Travel Often, Create Adventures, and Live Vicariously Through Yourself Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:57:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Having A Heart2Heart With the Orangutans in Sarawakhttp://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/heart2heart-orangutan-sarawak/ http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/heart2heart-orangutan-sarawak/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:55:33 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5640 Just outside Kuching in the Borneo region of Malaysia lies a wildlife sanctuary for one of the most intelligent primates and one of our closest ancestors…the orangutan. The word ‘orangutan’ is derived from the Malay words ‘orang’ meaning ‘people’ and … Continue reading

Having A Heart2Heart With the Orangutans in Sarawak is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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Orangutan at Matang Wildlife Sanctuary

Just outside Kuching in the Borneo region of Malaysia lies a wildlife sanctuary for one of the most intelligent primates and one of our closest ancestors…the orangutan. The word ‘orangutan’ is derived from the Malay words ‘orang’ meaning ‘people’ and ‘hutan’ meaning ‘forest’. So orangutans are known as ‘people of the forest’, and rightly so, because the males are the largest tree-dwelling mammals in the world.

First and foremost, this wildlife centre is NOT a zoo. Contact with the animals is kept to a minimum in order to reduce the dependence they place on humans and ensure they have every chance of survival when they are released back into the wild. The main objectives of the Heart2Heart program are as follows:

  1. To raise additional funds for Orangutan conservation and rehabilitation works
  2. To extend ownership of the program to other citizens of the world
  3. To disseminate information on Orangutan conservation efforts done in Sarawak

I was lucky enough to be able to spend a half-day at the Matang Wildlife Centre learning about this endangered species and the orangutan conservation efforts currently ongoing throughout Sarawak. Orangutans are on the brink of extinction due to poachers as well as their natural habitats being burned and/or cut down.

Orangutans are brought to the centre through a few different channels. Some are captured when they are found injured in the wild. Some are confiscated from their owners while attempting to be smuggled out of the country. The children are sometimes found abandoned when the parent(s) have been shot by poachers. If they are not rescued, there is an extremely high chance that the orangutans would die or be killed in these situations.

Baby Orangutans

The Rehabilitation Process

The rehabilitation process for young orangutans recovered in the wild goes something like this:

  • Admission and background investigation
  • Quarantine: The orangutans go through a health check before being integrated with the other animals. Special dietary and medical requirements are determined.
  • Training Stage 1: This is the initial training where the young primates are taught basic skills like tree climbing, food gathering, and social interaction in confined areas of the centre. They are closely monitored as they are typically with the mother for the first 7 years of their life.
  • Training Stage 2: This would be considered primary school and the orangutans first exposure to the forest. Again, they are still closely monitored at this point.
  • Training Stage 3: This would consist of more advanced deep forest skills training.
  • Release and Monitoring: Once the orangutans have successfully mastered the required skills, they are released into the forest. The staff from the centre still monitors them to ensure proper assimilation (usually for a week or so). If everything goes well, then the animal is left to live in the wild from then on. If any skills still appear to be lacking, they will be taken back and the training will continue for a bit longer before another release attempt.

In the rare case of a permanent disability or other failure to assimilate into the wild, the orangutan would continue to live at the wildlife centre indefinitely to protect them from harm in the forest.

Orangutan Cage Cleaning

Getting our hands dirty

Getting Involved

During the half-day visit we learned a lot, but were also able to get involved in the day-to-day care and maintenance for the orangutans. We began by cleaning and scrubbing down one of the large cages for Peter, the most senior male Orangutan at the centre. Next was preparing the enriched food for the animals’ lunch. The meal consisted of some greens, nuts, and honey, all blended together. Each of us stitched together a cloth bag, stuffed it with the mixture, and stitched the bag closed. Figuring out how to open the bag provides a bit of a challenge for the orangutans and stimulates their brain. I think Peter was getting a bit antsy while we were preparing the food.

Peter the Orangutan

He was probably a bit happier after I gave him his food bag.

Feeding the Orangutans

Orangutans are incredibly intelligent creatures and it was a wonderful experience to be able to aid in their conservation efforts at the wildlife centre. While the half-day program was a great introduction, I hope to go back and volunteer for 1-2 weeks at some point in the future. Only then can you really start to get a feel for their everyday lives.

Orangutan Dancing for Food

Thanks so much to the Matang Wildlife Centre for giving us this great experience and I highly recommend visiting if you are in the Sarawak region of Malaysia.

Disclosure: This trip was sponsored by Tourism Malaysia. However, as always, all opinions of the trip are my own.

Having A Heart2Heart With the Orangutans in Sarawak is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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Celebrating the Deepavali Festival in Malaysiahttp://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/deepavali-festival-2014/ http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/deepavali-festival-2014/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 00:32:31 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5595 On my recent trip to Malaysia I was able to attend the celebration of the official Deepavali Festival in Melaka, just a couple of hours south of Kuala Lumpur. Dignitaries and ministers from the country were all in attendance. In fact, … Continue reading

Celebrating the Deepavali Festival in Malaysia is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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Deepavali Festival

On my recent trip to Malaysia I was able to attend the celebration of the official Deepavali Festival in Melaka, just a couple of hours south of Kuala Lumpur. Dignitaries and ministers from the country were all in attendance. In fact, I was seated at a table next to the Malaysian Prime Minister!

Background

You might be wondering what the Deepavali Festival is. Let me explain.

Deepavali (also known as Diwali, depending on the region) is a ‘Festival of Lights’ celebrated by those of the Hindu religion. The festival signifies the victory of light over darkness and goodness over evil, marking the beginning of the Hindu New Year. In preparation for the festival, people go out and buy colorful new outfits, decorate their homes, and prepare a feast for their family and friends. As Malaysia is a cultural melting pot, the holiday has become an occasion for people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds across the country to share meals and develop friendships with each other.

Pre-Festivities

The day began with some pre-festivities in a small village called Bukit Katil. The village is known for its use of bullock carts, which are used to transport paddy and other goods from the nearby rice paddys. Here we were welcomed by a group of children playing some traditional songs for us.

Bullock Cart Village Children Singing

After this we journeyed out into the rice paddys, wading through knee-deep muddy water in some parts. Check out this video if you’d like to see the proper technique for this.

As I was beginning to wade out of the paddys, a few local kids were holding a thick rope. They pointed at me and made the gestures for tug-of-war. Of course I want to play tug-of-war in muddy rice paddys! So I gathered a team and we took on 10 or so kids. Now either the kids were abnormally strong or maybe just more adept at holding your ground when your feet are sliding through mud. I’m going to go with the latter, but nonetheless, we all had a great time.

Video courtesy of Arienne at http://seeyousoon.ca/.

The Deepavali Festival

After cleaning up a bit, we headed back into Melaka for the official Deepavali Festival celebration that evening. On the way, I couldn’t help but notice that even the tuk-tuk drivers decorate their vehicles. I wonder if they were having a competition because some of them were decorated really well.

Decorated Tuk-Tuks

Once we arrived at the festival site, I was seated fairly close to the front. However, it was still somewhat tough to see the performance stage because it was lower than the platform we were sitting on. So after the first couple songs, I decided to get a bit closer and join the local journalists and TV media that were down on the floor. This turned out to be good and bad. It was good because I was able to get some really good photos of the performances, but bad because I couldn’t go back to my seat as secret service was apparently on strict duty not to let anyone back up on the platform. There were a series of speakers and when the Prime Minister was giving his speech I went back to my table and was finally able to eat dinner.

Here are a few photos from the performances and the vibrant costumes.

Deepavali Festival 2

Deepavali Festival 4

Deepavali Festival 6

Deepavali Festival 7

Deepavali Festival 8And finally, THE FINALE!!!

Deepavali Festival Finale

Do you celebrate Deepavali in your culture? If so, what are some of your traditions?

Disclosure: This trip was sponsored by Tourism Malaysia. However, as always, all opinions of the trip are my own.

Celebrating the Deepavali Festival in Malaysia is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Statue at Batu Caveshttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-statue-batu-caves/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-statue-batu-caves/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 14:17:53 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5602 This week’s photo is of the statue at Batu Caves just outside of Kuala Lumpur. The statue of Lord Murugan is 140 feet tall and the tallest in Malaysia.

FotoFriday: Statue at Batu Caves is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo is of the statue at Batu Caves just outside of Kuala Lumpur. The statue of Lord Murugan is 140 feet tall and the tallest in Malaysia.

Statue at Batu Caves

FotoFriday: Statue at Batu Caves is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Spooky Street Arthttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-spooky-street-art/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-spooky-street-art/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:52:01 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5592 In honor of Halloween coming up, this week’s photo is of some spooky street art taken in Lisbon, Portugal. Don’t start having nightmares about this skeleton now.

FotoFriday: Spooky Street Art is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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In honor of Halloween coming up, this week’s photo is of some spooky street art taken in Lisbon, Portugal. Don’t start having nightmares about this skeleton now.

Spooky Street Art in Lisbon

FotoFriday: Spooky Street Art is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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5 Reasons I’m Excited to Go To Malaysiahttp://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/5-reasons-to-go-to-malaysia/ http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/5-reasons-to-go-to-malaysia/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 02:00:03 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5582 I’m excited to announce that I’m going to Malaysia this weekend! The country has been high on my list for a while, and I just missed going there last Fall after diving in Thailand. I’ll be there for almost 3 … Continue reading

5 Reasons I’m Excited to Go To Malaysia is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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I’m excited to announce that I’m going to Malaysia this weekend! The country has been high on my list for a while, and I just missed going there last Fall after diving in Thailand. I’ll be there for almost 3 weeks, traveling all over the country looking for the best food and cultural experiences I can find. Here are my top 5 reasons to go to Malaysia.

Deepavali Festival of Lights

Photo courtesy of William Cho on Flickr

1) Deepavali (Diwali)

Deepavali, or Diwali, is the annual Festival of Lights. It’s an ancient Hindu festival that signifies the victory of light over darkness. I’m excited to experience this because I’ve heard that people go to great lengths preparing their outfits for the festival, and even decorate their homes for the occasion.

2) Culture Fusion

Malaysia is a mix of Malay, Indian, and Chinese cultures. Even though each group keeps their own rituals and traditions, I’m interested to find out how the cultures have fused over the years, especially in food.

Street Food Penang

Photo courtesy of Basil Strahm on Flickr

3) Street Food

Malaysia is known as a foodie hotspot (especially in Penang), and no one is more excited about this than me. I can’t wait to eat as much Chinese, Indian, and Malay street food as possible in the short time I’m in the country.

4) The Petronas Towers

Photos of the famous Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur are taken by everyone who has ever visited Malaysia. While I see pictures of them all the time, I can’t wait to stand right underneath them myself.

Orangutan Sanctuary Malaysia

Photo courtesy of Heng Hau Yeo on Flickr

5) Visiting Wildlife Sanctuaries

While I’m hoping they are environmentally conscious, I’m looking forward to visiting both an orangutan sanctuary as well as a turtle conservation center in Kuching.

Have you visited Malaysia before? If so, what were some of your highlights and recommendations? Let me know in the comments below.

5 Reasons I’m Excited to Go To Malaysia is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Loads of Bikes in Amsterdamhttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-bikes-in-amsterdam/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-bikes-in-amsterdam/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 01:37:41 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5572 This week’s photo is of the loads of bikes in Amsterdam. I’ve heard that there are actually more bikes than people in the city, and by the look of this and other bike racks, this seems to be true.

FotoFriday: Loads of Bikes in Amsterdam is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo is of the loads of bikes in Amsterdam. I’ve heard that there are actually more bikes than people in the city, and by the look of this and other bike racks, this seems to be true.

Bikes in Amsterdam

FotoFriday: Loads of Bikes in Amsterdam is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Austin City Limits Festivalhttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-austin-city-limits/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-austin-city-limits/#comments Sat, 11 Oct 2014 00:03:01 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5565 This week’s photo is from the Austin City Limits music festival last weekend. On the 3rd day there were seas of people spanned all across Zilker Park anticipating the next round of bands to play.

FotoFriday: Austin City Limits Festival is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo is from the Austin City Limits music festival last weekend. On the 3rd day there were seas of people spanned all across Zilker Park anticipating the next round of bands to play.

Austin City Limits Music Festival

FotoFriday: Austin City Limits Festival is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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iPhone 6 Review for Travelhttp://nickstravelbug.com/reviews/iphone-6-review-travel/ http://nickstravelbug.com/reviews/iphone-6-review-travel/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 00:12:24 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5549 The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were announced last week and it’s the biggest change Apple has made to the iPhone line in recent years. Hundreds of reviews have already been written about the 2 new iPhones, but as … Continue reading

iPhone 6 Review for Travel is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were announced last week and it’s the biggest change Apple has made to the iPhone line in recent years. Hundreds of reviews have already been written about the 2 new iPhones, but as I’ve done in the past I want to give my opinions with regards to travel. Is it a worthwhile upgrade or should you wait until the next upgrade cycle? Read on to find out!

Screen Size

The most significant change in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the larger screen sizes, with the 6 measuring 4.7 inches and the 6 Plus measuring a whopping 5.5 inches! This should make for better web browsing, game play while stuck in airports, and jotting down notes on the phone. With the 6 Plus, it may even replace the need for you to have a tablet on the road (one less thing to carry). You might be thinking that 5.5 inches is way too big for a phone. I would tend to agree with you, but I won’t be able to decide for sure until I can make it over to an Apple Store and play with both for myself.

Memory Capacity

With the new iPhones, Apple has eliminated the 32GB version, opting for a 64GB version at the same price point, plus adding a 128GB version for the first time. I currently have a 32GB iPhone 5 and I’m constantly running out of room for music, photos, and my ever-growing podcasts list. I’ll probably go with the 128GB version so I never have to worry about this.

iPhone 6 Camera

Camera

While Apple still stuck with an 8MP iSight camera, they’ve added what they are calling ‘Focus Pixels’. The idea is that the camera should be able to autofocus significantly quicker than previous iPhone cameras. The biggest camera update comes to the iPhone 6 Plus, which comes with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). This will especially help with shooting in low-light situations. I wish they had included this on both new iPhones, so if you use it as your main camera then this might be a deciding factor.

Worldwide LTE Connectivity

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus support up to 20 different LTE bands, meaning that you can use them in most countries that have LTE networks. No more (slow) 3G speeds while traveling outside the US! Just show up in a new country, buy a SIM card at the airport, and be off with your fast LTE speeds. This really makes the iPhone one to rule them all. The new iPhones also support Voice-over-LTE, so those of us with Verizon in the US can finally talk and surf the web AT THE SAME TIME! I don’t understand why this took so long.

iPhone 6 Apple Pay

Apple Pay

The feature that I’m most excited about is Apple Pay. This involves using your phone to make payments via NFC. You link all of your credit cards to the phone, hold your thumb on the fingerprint sensor, swipe your phone past a machine at checkout, and voila, you’ve paid. No need to take your wallet out and fumble through getting out a card. This technology has been around for a while, but has never really taken off. Hopefully Apple integrating it in the new iPhones will help with mass adoption. The only issue you’d have to worry about would be if the battery in the phone dies. Then you’d have to have a physical card as a backup.

Verdict

So now the final question. Should you buy one of the new iPhone 6 models? I say absolutely. The larger screen size is a winner in itself, but then you add in larger memory capacity, an improved camera, and mobile payments. For me, it’s a must-upgrade. Which size you get really depends on your personal preferences, but from what I’ve heard I’ll probably be going with the iPhone 6 rather than the iPhone 6 Plus.

What do you think? Are you going to be upgrading to either the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus?

iPhone 6 Review for Travel is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Moulin Rouge in Parishttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-moulin-rouge-paris/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-moulin-rouge-paris/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 22:29:25 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5545 This week’s photo was taken outside of the famous Moulin Rouge theatre in Paris. It certainly looks more impressive all lit up at night!

FotoFriday: Moulin Rouge in Paris is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo was taken outside of the famous Moulin Rouge theatre in Paris. It certainly looks more impressive all lit up at night!

Moulin Rouge Paris

FotoFriday: Moulin Rouge in Paris is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Madrid at Sunsethttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-things-to-see-in-madrid/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-things-to-see-in-madrid/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 22:45:12 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5541 This week’s photo was taken while I was wandering through Madrid around sunset. The City Hall building was one of my favorite things to see in Madrid. It’s a fairly impressive building.

FotoFriday: Madrid at Sunset is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo was taken while I was wandering through Madrid around sunset. The City Hall building was one of my favorite things to see in Madrid. It’s a fairly impressive building.

Things to See in Madrid

FotoFriday: Madrid at Sunset is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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