November 11th 2006, Saturday Medan Indonesia -- Late in the afternoon our driver Mr. Haris arrived to take Dr. Gary and myself, John Page to Bukit Lawang. Our transport was a Mitsubishi diesel pickup truck with an extended cab. Our bags were loaded into the bed of the truck and protected by a cleverly folded tarpaulin and then secured with ropes. It was not raining in Medan and so this appeared to me to be over kill, how wrong could I be ?

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November 11th 2006, Saturday --- After a night at the SOCP staff house, spartan but adequate accomodations. We are back at the SOCP offices meeting with team members and putting the plans together for the upcoming conference, workshop and summit.

November 10th Friday -- Today the meeting took place at the SOCP offices in Medan. True to form we arrived as the power went out. The office does have an air cooled generator that can only run for 2 hours at a time without overheating, most power outages last 4 hours.

With the generator running we were able to connect to the Internet and keep our laptops charged. The tropical downpour drowned out the noise of the generator.

Lunch arrived at 3:30pm. With full tummies 5 of us, Susilo, Nirwan, Dr. Gary, John and Deva our driver, squeezed into an extended cab pickup truck for the ride to Barastagi.

The roads are narrow and have many switch backs as then climb up the mountains to Barastagi. On some of the curves the large trucks took up the whole road to negotiate the switch back.

The roads were lined with houses and roadside businesses. Our driver suddenly swerves to the right across the lane of oncoming traffic and stops on the muddy verge. Dr. Gary is very excited because this roadside stall sells Durians.

This unusual fruit that is a favourite of the Orangutan and Dr. Gary is banned from public transport and hotels because of the odor. I must admit that the smell could be quite overpowering in an enclosed space. Gary negotiates with the vendor for 3  Durians, the vendor then splits them open and we sit down to feast on the yellow custard that surrounds the seed. This was my first experience of Durian and I look forward to the next time that I can savour the flavour.

We continue our upward climb past the Danone owned Aqua water bottling plant and on to the Sibayak Hotel. What a contrast from the dwellings that we have passed to reach here. This hotel blends the old with the new and has obviously undergone extensive renovation. We are shown the room where the conference will take place along with the movie theatre that may be used for some of the presentations.

With our questions answered and face put to names, it is time to descend the mountain road back to Medan. Dr. Gary and I fall asleep which allows Susilo to prove that it only took 15 minutes for us to return because our sleeping time of about an hour did not count. We stop at a roadside restaurant for a dinner of fried rice, very tasty, Susilo asked them to go easy on the spices for my benefit, not just because I am not accustomed to very spicy flavours but also because I will be sharing a room with Dr. Gary. Whilst we are eating dinner I  notice the cats that wandering around the tables and eating the scraps. They are unusual because they have a short stubby tail that end in a hook shape.

From dinner we headed back to the SOCP offices to work until midnight. Then it is off to the SOCP staff accomodations, that were first of all described as a "Guest House" .... ummm this should be interesting.

I will post more tomorrow .....

November 9th 2006 -- Medan, Sumatra. The Leuser International Foundation were kind enough to allow us to hold our planning meeting in one of their conference rooms. Food, tea, coffee and water were provided.

The first part of the day was used as an opportunity for the participants to get to know each other and to hear presentations.

The three main areas covered during the day were :

1. Evaluation and naming of the target groups that are in possible conflict with Orangutans.

2. Discussed the education programs

3. Presumptive key concept or standards to be in the curriculum. At the workshop there will be a survey, the results of the survey will impact the final curriculum. 

The following 20 people made time in their busy schedules to attend the all the day meeting :

  • Susilo Sudarman - SOCP - YEL
  • Fransisca Ariantiningsih - YEL
  • Ernawati - PPLH Bottorok
  • Ethi Sartina - USU/Biology
  • Aisyali Basita - SOCP - YEL
  • Panut Hardisisivoyo - SOS - OIC
  • Erwin Alamsyah - SOS - OIC
  • Noor Tribuono A.F. - Balai TNGL
  • Wahdi Azmi - FFI - SECP
  • Helen Tiorita - Balai KSDA SU II
  • Lusiana Simalupong - Balai KSDA SU II
  • Nirwan Sunaidi - CPOI - Sumatra
  • Nurhadi Sp - Balai TNGL
  • Abu Haiufat- CI Indonesia
  • Ivan Andita - Balai KSDA SU I
  • Syafruddin - Balai KSDA SU I
  • Ma'R'fatin Zahrah - USU/Forestry
  • M. Riuai - YLI - Leuser Foundation International
  • Dr. Gary Shapiro - OUREI
  • John Page - OUREI


Attendees of pre-conference workshop in the midst of developing workshop tools for next week.

November 8th 2006 --- Dr. Gary Shapiro arrived in Medan this afternoon to join John Page who had flown in from LA via Singapore earlier in the day. Slowly the hotel room filled with the local supporters of the Orang Utan Republik Education Initiative. The purpose of thie evening's meeting was to set the stage for the Pre-Conference meeting that will take place on Thursday and last all day. Present at today's meeting were Dr. Gary Shapiro, John Page, Susilo, Panut, Nirwan and the Event Organizers Mr. Yudi and his associate.

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