Saturday, June 7, 2008

Chagar Hutang... Here I Come!!

2 more weeks to go and I'll be off... My 5th tour of duty as a volunteer for turtle conservation at Chagar Hutang over in Redang Island. I can't wait. 1 week of utter isolation... no handphone... no e-mails... Woo Hooooo... Almost every year when it gets closer to my volunteer slot, I start thinking of the 300m long beach reminiscing of past memories and I've been going through some photos as well... Thought I'd share them...

Dawn at Chagar Hutang (CH). This was taken in 2005 and was taken in the wee hours of the morning using a long exposure. It was an eventful night as the speedboat used to ferry us between the mainland and CH had sunk. It was nearing the monsoon season so the seas were choppy and water collected in the boat causing it to sink... no thanks to the full tanks of gasoline that had not been offloaded. Fortunately, we realised what was happening and managed to get all the gasoline tanks before we were faced with an ecological disaster.

Sunrise in Chagar Hutang. This was taken just last year.

When the weather permits, we would just spread out the carpets on the beach and gaze at stars and just monitor landing turtles. This my dear friends, is not an experience you are bound to get in many places. A private beach... no tourists walking by... waves lapping... this is the pinnacle of relaxation and stress therapy... And a perfect place for meditation... No handphone signal... no SMSes... No lights apart from the torchlights and moonlight... About the only thing that would probably bother you are mosquitoes...

This was taken in 2004 by my friends. A turtle that came ashore late in the morning around 5 - 6 am... so by the time it was done, it was daylight and everyone managed to get good pics. We are not allowed to take flash photography at night.

Tomorrow's hope reaching for the open sea... One thing that amazes me is how the hatchlings are able to know where the ocean is. Even if they are in a tub, they are all clambering in the direction of the open sea. When we release them at night, they will always crawl towards the sea instead of haphazardly in all directions. A miracle of nature.

New life emerges. This was taken in 2005. We knew from the last evening's excavations that the hatchlings in this nest would be emerging any time. So we waited and waited and waited... And they did emerge... 4 am the next morning... But even then, the hatchlings were pretty much in this stationary position till about 6:30 am to 7 am before they started crawling out and into the South China Sea. This was one of the memorable moments of my time at CH.

Turtle tracks. A dead giveaway that a turtle had landed.

Turtle Rock hike. A planned activity where volunteers are taken on a daytrip to a rocky outcrop at the eastern tip of the beach.

Torchlight Uno... Few years back, there was no such thing as solar powered lamps so we relied on torchlights and candles while waiting for the tide to rise and patrols to start.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi, i am the editor of a traveler magazine in china. and i am writing a feature about volunteer tourism and introducing seatru. i surf the web and found your gorgeous photos about seatru. i wonder do you have interests in publishing your photos on our magazine? please email me:
thank you in advance.