Borneo is Frog Paradise, Part Two

Ah, Kubah National Park on Borneo…. froggie paradise. The park is also home to other species. We met these guys.

Borneo angle-headed lizard (Gonocephalus borneensis)
Giant bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus consobrinus)

And these. They were the size of my out-stretched hand!

When we planned what to do and see on Borneo, I made only one request. Okay, I admit it was a demand. I wanted, no, I needed to go on the night tour to see endemic frogs.

Our tour guide picked us up in front of the hotel and drove us out to Kubah National Park, where the park ranger met us. The four of us headed up into the park in the deepening darkness. And I do mean up: we climbed to 1,ooo feet to reach the part of the park where the most frogs hang out. The road was lit only by the beams of our torches and the flashes of fire flies.

Fire flies! I haven’t seen them since my childhood in New England, back when their on-and-off glow was an atmospheric element of every summer evening….

It was glorious.

You hear the one about the cinnamon frog and the fly?

It was also very, very funny, at times like being in a Monty Python sketch. Overcast, humid as hell and still hot as hell, even in the middle of the night. I dripped sweat and my glasses kept fogging up. Pitch black darkness, except for our flashlights…. which the two guides and I were shining on the frogs so that Uwe could capture them in photos. He didn’t want to use the camera flash, not wanting to startle the wild life and because light from a camera flash is too artificial. So I took his flashlight and held a torch in each hand, aiming them as directed. It was as though he were a mad director with a camera crew. It didn’t bother the critters one bit – they went on singing, and croaking, and hanging out on bole branch and vine…

Pitcher plant colony. Home of the narrow-mouth frog, first described in 2010. Microhyla borneensis was once the smallest known frog from the Old World (the current record holder is Paedophryne amauensis from New Guinea). The narrow-mouth frog is the size of your pinkie’s finger nail

A highlight in a night of a parade of wonders was the long-nosed horned frog. O.M.G. If folks on safari speak of the ‘Big Five’, froggers go into raptures about this guy:

Bornean horned frog! (Megophrys nasuta)

He lives in the leaf litter on the jungle floor, and remained motionless even as the park ranger cleared away the leaf detritus around him so that we could see him better. The horned frog, mahogany frog, and narrow-mouthed frog found in the pitcher plant are the rarest of the rare, the ‘Big Three’ of Kubah Park’s frog world. I clearly saw the first two, and saw the third jump from a distance.

Natural world geek heaven.

NOTES: Many of these species can be found only on Borneo. If you missed it in Part One, go to this link to hear what serenaded us in the jungle: https://blog.soundcloud.com/Most beautiful sound in the world competition winner Marc Anderson  This night tour really was magic. Wikipedia: Microhyla borneensis  © Jadi Campbell 2019. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s pics from Borneo and our trips go to viewpics.de.

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Borneo is Frog Paradise, Part One

Ah, Kubah National Park on Borneo…. froggie paradise.

March 2019 Journal entry:

Just returned from an exhilarating 2 and ½ hours night tour with nature guide and tour guide at Kubah National Park. We saw frogs on trees, leaves, vines, boles, the sides of the road…. Two rare horned frogs! Mahogany frogs! A teeny pitcher plant frog – just one – it jumped away before we could look more closely but I did see the tiny thing leap (the narrow-mouth frog first described in 2010). Three different lizards. White-lipped frogs. Cinnamon frogs. Firebelly toads. Harlequin tree frogs. We had to head up to 1,000 feet up a road in the dark, the ranger with a head light. Unreal how he could spot the frogs. Glorious sounds of running water and night sounds of the jungle all around, my glasses fogging over with the heat and humidity, a large frog pond formed by wild pigs’ rutting. The frogs surprisingly calm, not jumping at our presence, just hanging out in their domain. I was in the moment, totally blissed out, just there, present with each frog we spotted. The guide and ranger and I backlighting each critter with our flashlights so Uwe could photograph it. The deep jungle trees and vegetation and clicks and buzzes and calls of frogs all around us. Nature’s Symphony. Glorious. An Australian recorded just this place and won an international competition for the most beautiful sounds in the world. Borneo’s really promoting sustainable growth, they recognize what they have here. The Malaysian part of Borneo, that is. I feel hopeful about a corner of the planet for the first time in a very, very, very long and sad time. Man, I like Borneo.

But with this frog tour tonight: I’m blissed out. It satisfied a deep soul place inside me. I am beyond happy. My heart feels filled.

Mahogany frog (Abavorana luctuosa)
white-lipped frog (Chalcorana raniceps)
I think this is a cinnamon frog (Nyctixalus pictus)

file eared tree frog (Polypedates otilophus)

 

 

Borneo horned frog (Megophrys nasuta)

NOTES: Many of these species can be found only on Borneo. This night tour was magic. And to hear what serenaded us in the jungle, go to this link: https://blog.soundcloud.com/Most beautiful sound in the world competition winner Marc Anderson  © Jadi Campbell 2019. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s pics from Borneo and our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

The Animal Kingdom: 30

You’ve now reached Installment #30 from my blog thread describing what to call groups of animals. We’re not even close to the end! See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. The fixture fixed itself firmly to the fixture.
  2. The boil boiled in the sky, falling fast towards the earth.
  3. A bevy of bevies is one fleet fleet.
  4. The trip tripped along the shore line. (1)
  5. The consortium consorted, while the moggies kept to themselves. (2)
  6. This devil has imps!
Fixture, Lamru National Park, Khao Lak, Thailand
Consulting for the consortium, Lamru National Park, Khao Lak, Thailand
Consortium, Lamru National Park, Khao Lak, Thailand

Answers:

  1. Fixture of barnacles [1]
  2. Boil of hawks [2]
  3. Bevy of deer [3]
  4. Trip of dotterel [4]
  5. Consortium of crabs
  6. Tasmanian devil babies [5]
Dotterel dottering by a consortium, Lamru National Park, Khao Lak, Thailand

NOTES: [1] I completely forgot about barnacles. Marilyn Albright over at alaskamexicoandbeyond.wordpress.com/ alerted me to this one. Thanks, Marilyn! [2] A boil specifically designates two or more hawks spiraling in flight (3). [3] Bevy refers to roe deer only. sciencebasedlife.wordpress.com/  [4] I had to look it up. A dotterel is a plover, related to sandpipers (1). [5] Tasmanian devils are solitary and fierce: there is no term for a group of Tasmanian devils. But devil babies are called imps, which more than qualified them for my lists. The devil is endangered. greentumble.com

Moggie, but you may call me Your Highness

NOTES on NOTES: (1) Someone stop me! I can’t resist. A dotterel is also a slang term in Britain for someone easily duped. www.yourdictionary.com (2) I couldn’t resist this fact either. Yet another definition for cats! I have to sneak in moggy: “Moggy (also moggie) is used in Scottish and English dialects in senses that are colloquial or rare or obsolete, e.g., “a young girl or young woman”; “a scarecrow”; “a calf or cow.” Perhaps its only common use is as a term for an ordinary house cat. Moggy may possibly be a derivative of Mog, a nickname for Margaret. Moggy in its sense “girl, young woman” entered English in the 17th century; in its sense “calf or cow,” in the 19th century; in its sense “scarecrow,” in the late 19th century; and in its sense “house cat,” in the early 20th century.” wordoftheday Go to my earlier posts for more on cats: The Animal Kingdom: A Clowder and Installments 19 and 22. (3) Let’s repeat NOTE #3 again: A boil specifically designates two or more hawks spiraling in flight. Two or MORE? Seriously? © Jadi Campbell 2017. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.  Fun animal names from www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

Borneo: Shaman Medicine

I was going to tell you about Malaysian Borneo when I got sidetracked by their neighbor Brunei. Moving on quickly (which is what we did as we flew over the sultanate on our way to the state of Sarawak), we landed in Kuching. What a lovely, lovely city. Kuching should get its own post, and likely will. We roamed along the riverfront walk and slurped down laksa noodle dishes with gusto. Kuching is a great spot to head out to various national parks to see wildlife.

Borneo is home of the native Dayak tribes. Remember childhood tales of the wild headhunters of Borneo? The Dayak call this ritual Ngayau. We visited Dayak long houses. Smoked skulls still hang at the hearth in the central long house.

The most important tribal figure is the head chief, closely followed by the shaman. This medicine man, also known as a balian [1] is responsible for the health of the tribe as well as interceding between the worlds.

During our time in Kuching I’d been glancing in shops without actually entering any of them. Among the streets of tourist trinkets, one store fascinated me. On the last day I made a beeline for that shop. [2]

And then I made a beeline for a shelf lined with containers topped by human figures.

Jerry Ang, the soft-spoken shop owner, kindly answered all my questions. He told me these were Dayak shaman medicine containers. The figures are hand carved from polished buffalo or cow bone. A shaman had hand-etched the jar with scrimshaw patterns. Dayak shamans used the containers to store herbs, magic powders and betal lime to make medical potions. Some still contained resins – Jerry and I opened each jar and sniffed.

The carved figure indicates the illness the potion was intended to treat. Some of the figures held their heads (aches and pains of the head) or their stomachs. Some figures even depicted a person crouched over… the traveler’s curse of diarrhea for sure.

My piece has a prawn carved on the back: Jerry thought maybe prawns were one of the main ingredients in the medicine. Or perhaps the prawn indicated the woman who made the potion (he said the figure was female), or an ancestor. An on-line source tells me the scrimshaw work represents animals that bring good luck. If anyone can give me more information, I’d be most grateful!

NOTES: [1] Balian is the term used for traditional healers on Bali, too. Healing arts are passed down through generations. Twenty years ago I did a massage exchange with the son of a balian there; he had been taught by his father. To learn more about the Dayak shamans go to http://factsanddetails.com. The article gives the following information: “Shamanic curing, or balian, is one of the core features of these ritual practices. Because illness is thought to result in a loss of the soul, the ritual healing practices are devoted to its spiritual and ceremonial retrieval. In general, religious practices focus on the body, and on the health of the body politic more broadly. Sickness results from giving offense to one of the many spirits inhabiting the earth and fields, usually from a failure to sacrifice to them. The goal of the balian is to call back the wayward soul and restore the health of the community through trance, dance, and possession.” [Source: Library of Congress, 2006] Or see Wikipedia: The Dayak People [2] See also Unika Borneo, the shop where I found my figure. I receive no commission for mentioning the store. I just think they deserve to be mentioned.  More figures can be admired at https://borneoartifact.com and https://www.esotericstuff.com

© Jadi Campbell 2019. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

Borneo: The Beyond Bad

The island of Borneo is very special. Its territory is divided up between Malaysia (the Borneo part), Indonesia (Kalimantan), and the tiny sultanate of Brunei. Brunei is currently in the news as the all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who also acts as prime minister, insists that Brunei will implement sharia law. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has ruled non-stop for 52 years.

Harsh penalties have been in force since 2014; the second and third stages to the penal code just went into effect a few weeks ago on April 3. People convicted of being gay men or adulterers die by stoning. Thieves lose the right hand for a first offense, and the left foot for the second. Blasphemy or leaving the Muslim faith earns the death penalty. The new laws criminalize ‘exposing’ Muslim children to the beliefs and practices of any religion other than Islam. Cross dressing earns imprisonment. Abortion shall be punished with public flogging. Lesbians get flogged with 40 strokes of the cane and/or a maximum of 10 years in prison.

These laws mostly effect Muslims, though some aspects apply to non-Muslims. One-third of the country’s population is not Muslim.

Human Rights Watch condemns the new penal code as “barbaric to the core”. In ‘fairness’, it’s not entirely clear whether death by stoning will actually be implemented. A high burden of proof is needed.

We just finished up a trip to that part of the world and had an amazing time on Borneo. It repels me beyond words to think that we might have visited this barbaric regime.

But I digress. I wanted to tell you about our trip. Come back later; I promise I’ll be in a better mood. I’ll have stories about orangutans, rare frogs, and Dayak shaman medicine to share with you.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2019. If you can stomach it, read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com.

Go also to  https://www.theguardian.com

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

The Animal Kingdom #29

This is installment #29 in my blog thread for Bobbo, describing what to call groups of animals … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. The lounge looked longingly.
  2. The repetition repeated, over and over and over and….
  3. This is no school for scholars.
  4. The business busied itself sniffing out food.
  5. Why hurt a herd?
  6. The mustering masters moving through Munster.
I just had to repeat a lounge…. Wilhelma Zoo, Stuttgart, Germany

Answers:

Repetition member, Reid Park Zoo, Tucson, Arizona
  1. Lounge of lizards
  2. Repetition of ground hogs [1]
  3. School of carp [2]
  4. Business of ferrets
  5. Herd of bulls
  6. Mustering of storks [3]
Schools looking at schools, Xi’an, China
School kids crossing school, Nagasaki, Japan
One pissed-off herd member, Barcelona, Spain
Mustering home, Alsace rooftop, France

NOTES: [1] Also called woodchucks, whistle-pigs, or land-beavers Scientific American.com [2] Uwe took this photo during Golden Week, when everyone in China is on holiday. If I ever had any claustrophobia, I cured it forever during that trip! [3] Stork status: Endangered © Jadi Campbell 2017. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.  Fun animal names from www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

 

Xi’an’s Boulevard

This is a real road in Xi’an

This week’s post is about one of the more remarkable roads I’ve ever strolled. The street is in Xi’an, home of one of the world’s best preserved, still-intact, walled cities. We’re big fans of places listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Xi’an is on Chinese and international lists as a cultural treasure.

This however is not a city street. This ‘boulevard’ is actually on top of Xi’an’s city walls
From atop the wall with a bird’s eye view

It’s an old capital city located at the end of the Silk Road. The rampart walls were built in the 14th century by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang as part of his military defenses and enclose 8.7 square miles, or roughly 14 square kilometers. [1]

The walls were made first with tamped earth (and, according to Travel China Guide, ‘with the base layer including also lime and glutinous rice extract’). [2] A century later they were reinforced with blue bricks. The original walls used to include a moat and drawbridges. These walls are so thick that in WWII, Xi’an’s residents built a thousand bunkers inside the base to protect them from the bombs of Japanese air raids!

They are a breathtaking 12 meters or 39 feet high. It takes four hours to walk them. Actually, it takes longer than that if you’re Uwe and Jadi, because you never know what’s down the road. On our visit (foolishly booked during China’s Golden Week when all 1.3 billion Chinese citizens were also on vacation) we discovered a festival performance taking place inside one of the courtyards.

We heard it before we saw it. Drums, lots of drums…

And men in costume. Enter, Stage Left.

Or was that Enter, Stage Right?

What tickles me most about the walls is that once you’re on them, you could be on a wide boulevard anywhere in the world. Except that this is China, and this isn’t a boulevard…. It’s a wide street located on top of Xi’an’s city walls. Travel doesn’t get any better than this.

NOTES: [1] The current fortified city walls were constructed on an earlier, Tang dynasty palace wall. [2] www.travelchinaguide.com ©Jadi Campbell 2018. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

UNESCO World Heritage Tentative Lists

 

The Animal Kingdom: 28

I’m amazed at how long this blog thread has grown! Each post describes what to call groups of animals … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. This tell could tell tales!
  2. The glimmer glimmered in the dying light.
  3. The last thing you want is this intrusion intruding!
  4. The raft’s feet make it difficult to sit on a raft.
  5. I want a kaleidoscope of this kaleidoscope.
  6. Is there wisdom in thinking a wisdom wise?
Glimmer member
Tell visit in Yangon, Myanmar home

Answers:

  1. Tell of crows
  2. Glimmer of dragonflies [1]
  3. Intrusion of cockroaches
  4. Raft of loons [2]
  5. Kaleidoscope of butterflies
  6. Wisdom of wombats
Perching on the top left
Wisdom member
Kaleidoscope, back trails, Cranberry Lake, Adirondacks

NOTES: [1] I found this entry at English.stackexchange.com [2] And found this one at www.hintsandthings.co.uk.  Loons are solitary birds and live mostly in family groups. On rare occasions when they come together, the group is called a raft. Loons are the subject of Endangered Species Report #36 at www.wildlifewatchers.org© Jadi Campbell 2017. All photos © Jadi Campbell or Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.  Fun animal names from www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

Raft member, Cranberry Lake, Adirondacks

 

What? I Can’t Hear You

You gotta know when to fold ‘em…*

Every time Uwe and I went on a long trip, my mother-in-law’s last words were always, “The main thing is, you come back healthy!” She also said those words any time Uwe and I went on a short trip. Actually, she said this anytime either of us went anywhere.

“Cripes Uwe,” I would complain, “why the hell can’t she just tell us to have a good time?”

And then I got older and we did an extended trip and I did not come back healthy. I developed a herniated disk when we returned home.

Take it from me… Mothers are always, always right.

I should be on the other side of the world right now, meeting up with my sisters and their husbands to help celebrate a birthday. But I had a sinus infection since New Year’s Eve, and the space between my ears felt like it was stuffed with wet cotton. For weeks, I weighed the three plane flights needed for a trip of twenty hours against the likely reality of popped eardrums.

And suddenly, through the dampers in my eustachian tubes, I heard Mama Hartmann’s voice speaking that cautionary phrase with a new twist: “The main thing is, you leave healthy.”

I listened to my mother-in-law. I cancelled the flights at the last minute, and made a third appointment with a second ENT doc, an ear nose throat specialist. (Otolaryngologist. My new word for the day. Yippee for me.)

Like Kenny sang, ya gotta know when to fold ‘em.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2019. *Apologies to Kenny Rogers. Photos courtesy of Dreamstime.com. Go to my earlier posts The Great Wall of Pain: Part One  The Great Wall of Pain: Part Two for details on how that little mistake ended. To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

 

 

The Animal Kingdom: 27

I present installment #27 from my blog thread describing what to call groups of animals … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. If you agitate the pandemonium you’ll create pandemonium!
  2. He cast the cast free.
  3. The murder murdered the afternoon quiet.
  4. A memory has very long memories.
  5. What a shock to find this nest nestled in the rocks.
  6. A mischievous mischief causes so much mischief.
Memory, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Answers:

  1. Pandemonium of parrots
  2. Cast of falcons [1]
  3. Murder of crows
  4. Memory of elephants
  5. Nest of snakes [2]
  6. Mischief of mice
Nest member, Wilhelma Zoo, Stuttgart, Germany
A critter this smart could definitely cause pandemonium…. Loro Parque, Tenerifa

NOTES: [1] Cast is used for both bird and crustacean families [2] see The Animal Kingdom: 6 © Jadi Campbell 2017. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.  Fun animal names from www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.