Monday, March 20, 2017
A Malaysian bativersary
Ten years ago this month Andrew and I participated in our first Earthwatch expedition, a two-week stint in a Malaysian rainforest helping (we hope?!) on a scientific project investigating insectivorous bats. It was fascinating, eye-opening, bruising, delicious and enjoyable.
Working in a very small team (just the lead researcher, local research assistants and us) we hiked into the forest each morning and evening, recording details of bats that had been caught in harp traps:
We also helped out with tasks such as restringing broken harp traps and painting poles to mark trails.
Twice a day a lovely local family showed up on a motorbike to deliver delicious home-cooked curries. We were already fans of Malaysian food but this sealed the deal!
In the course of the two weeks we met eighteen species of bats including the newly identified Kerivoula krauensis, saw and interacted with all sorts of other flora and fauna, visited a village, learnt a few words of Bahasa Malaysia and were snacked on by many, many leeches.
Bats are gorgeous little critters. We enjoyed meeting so many of them and learning about their lives and activities, and have continued taking an interest in them since returning home.
Our first foray into 'citizen science' was a life-changing experience, and we ended up doing four more Earthwatch expeditions, one in Canada and three in Australia.
Ten years! We're still in touch with some of the people we met there. We were charmed by Malaysia and have visited several times since, to snorkel at Pulau Tioman, travel on an iconic train, and sample the diverse food options.