Penang National Park and Environmental Observances

On our last day on the island we took the bus to Penang National Park, about an hour ride from central Georgetown.  There were several possible hikes but the Canopy Walkway was under renovation so we settled on the hike to Monkey Beach. 

Here is a short video of our adventure.  Make sure to check out 1:25 for some angry monkeys.

Penang National Park
Jungle ground in Penang National Park
Penang National Park Jelly Fish
A giant jellyfish in Penang National Park

We spent over an hour walking the jungle path until we came to the beach.  We sipped coconuts and had the usual arguments with the monkeys.

Penang National Park - Monkey Beach
Monkey Beach

They never like me very much and it never fails that we end up screeching at each other.  There were a lot of the little buggers and they had big teeth so we let them win this time.  We didn’t eat enough breakfast for such a long hike and were super hungry by the end (having only eaten like twice before leaving).  So we got some roti (fried folded delicious bread) while waiting for the bus back.

Penang National Park
Penang National Park

We were upset with the amount of trash in Penang National Park and saw quite a few Malaysian hikers throw their empty bottles right onto the beach.  Several people on Monkey Beach were selling a variety of drinks, all in small plastic bottles but there were no trash bins and it was obviously too much work for people to just carry it out.  A group of 20-30 middle school students passed us, each with their own small plastic bottle of water.  We talked while hiking out about how they could clean up all the trash in a few days with just a few people.  Near the entrance we came upon five park employees sweeping leaves off the path.   Yes that’s right, FIVE PEOPLE.  SWEEPING. LEAVES. OFF. A. PATH. IN. THE. JUNGLE.  I was really frustrated by the whole system and I tried to calmly explain this to the Park Ranger at the front gate on our way out.

Me: “Why do so many people throw trash on the beach?”

His response, waving his hands as if it’s hopeless: “They are local people.”

Me: “Do you tell them not to do it?”

He smiled and said, “Have a nice day!”

Well, that was that.  Non-confrontational Malaysian culture for the win!  Reflecting upon it, I don’t blame the people anymore.  Yes, we all need to be more conscious of the products we buy and the waste we produce but I blame the governments for not educating their people better and most of all the companies that produce the bottles.  If I were Supreme Dictator of The World, the Coca-Cola company would no longer exist.

Want to read more about Penang? Check it out here!

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Waterfall Rappelling

One day in Baños, Carrie and I got all pumped up on coffee and eggs for breakfast and then walked downtown to Geotours where we had a deposit down on a “canyoning”, a.k.a. waterfall rappelling adventure.  For $30 each we got a half day on the ropes in the mountains southeast of town.  They supplied us with all the gear we needed; helmet, wetsuit with jacket, and these dorky cheap shoes.  (Why we didn’t just wear our Chacos, I will never know.)  Our guide Jose spoke very clearly in Spanish and perfect English as well, but we try to always speak Spanish when we can.  So we loaded all the stuff into a friendly town rent-a-truck and headed down the road toward Puyo.  We went through two tunnels then made a quick left up a gravel road.  There was some kind of a community road repair function going on that we seemed to break up only long enough for our truck to sneak through.  We drove up the hill and over an old bridge then stopped at a shack along the ever -diminishing road.  There was our changing room, a.k.a. some woman’s house whom we interrupted cooking rice over a fire she had built up against a large boulder.  She had a perfect little kitchen set up on that rock, complete with machete.

We changed into our gear then walked up a trail that started across the street.  It was kind of steep and awkward, sweating in wetsuits and slipping on the wet rocks in our dorky shoes.  After about 20 minutes we could hear the water and made our way to the top of a beautiful series of cascadas.  We watched closely as Jose tied up the rope system, hoping someday to mimic it ourselves.  After practicing once we put our weight on the ropes and kicked and fell (a controlled fall) down the the first falls.  We swung into the falls and held on as the water crashed into our faces.  What a thrill!  The highest waterfall was over 100 feet and we were able to try some tricks and bounce off the walls a little bit.

A short little clip taken with the waterproof camera:

The entire adventure lasted from around 9:30am until after 1pm.  It inclueded lunch for some reason, so when we were dropped off in town Jose walked us to a sandwhich shop and we said goodbye to our personal guide.  We had so much fun that now we really want to buy some ropes and go do it ourselves!

Tungurahua Eruption Video

So, the eruption of Tungurahua is pretty much calmed down by now (knock on wood).  We haven’t had any ash or loud booming for several days, although the volcano is still technically in “active” mode.  I think, though, that it’s time to put the Volcano Tracker to rest.  It can stay here so it will still be on the website until the end of time, but hopefully we won’t need to update it again!

This page is dedicated to updating the world on the situation with Volcán Tungurahua in Baños, Ecuador. ____________________________________________________________

The volcano hasn’t made it’s presence felt all day, and we are hoping that it is over!

Friday, December 9, 2011

8pm:  No sounds but it did clear up, showing the volcano to still be smoking.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

5:15pm:  BOOM!!!!!!

2pm: Some rumbling can be heard from the side of town close to the volcano.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2:30 pm.  Some small rumbles but only for a few minutes.  Very dusty in town.

11am: Still no activity, some ash blowing in town.

9am: Woke to some mild rumbling sometime in the night, but as of now all is quiet and the ash has settled.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

7pm: Volcano has been calm all day, and hopefully will continue in this fashion!

12 NOON: Baños ash making it feel like the Burning Man festival.

11am: the mayor made everyone sweep this morning which made all the dust go down the street and into the air for the next person to sweep and breathe.

10am: volcano almost quiet, Baños still in a thick fog, moderate winds not helping.  dust starts to enter our house.

9am: walk to town and find everyone there sweeping off their houses and shops. piles of ash lining the streets and most people wearing surgical masks.

8am: loud rumbles, town is in a haze

7am: wake up, volcano quiet

Monday, December 5, 2011

Here’s a quick video with some of our volcano footage.  Sorry the shot of the lava is so hard to see.  Shooting in pitch black+youtube video quality=pretty hard to see it!  But if you look closely you can see some red flashes!  Also, turn your volume up because the sound is one of the best parts!

Only 8 more days until you don’t have to hear about this anymore!

But until then….

Our flight leaves on October 27, and now our fundraising deadline is fast approaching! We set a lofty goal of raising $5000 and we still have a long way to go! We are currently only a few hundred dollars away from the $1000 mark, and every little bit helps! The film is happening no matter how much money we raise, but the more we get, the better the quality will be! Here are a few things your donation will be used for:

TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE!!!! (to protect the film from being scrapped due to unforeseeable health issues)
SHOTGUN MICROPHONE (for great sound quality!)
EXTRA HARDDRIVES (for backing up footage)
EXTRA MEMORY CARD (for storing pictures and video)
LONG LIFE CAMERA BATTERIES (to keep us rolling in places where there’s no power!)

Don’t leave us without medical coverage. We can’t do this on our own. Let’s make these last 8 days count and help us get the equipment we need to create something amazing. Every dollar will be greatly appreciated and there are some great perks for helping us out. We appreciate your help so much!
The link to donate is www.indiegogo.com/laaventuraproject

Feel free to leave comments with any and all questions; we’d love to answer them!

You can also help by following @AventuraProject on Twitter, “Liking” La Aventura Project on Facebook, and posting this event to your wall for others to see!