Am almost at the end of my third week at Rimbun Dahan. The house and its neighbours have had time to get used to me, as I them. Have spotted some interesting creatures:
- Wild pig – Was making my dandy way back from the warung when I noticed something rooting in the trees ahead. The bushes trembled and out stumbled a wild pig. It was black and half as tall as me, almost twice as wide. We stared at each other for a few seconds. I remembered from the Rimbun Dahan guide for artists in residence that if we come face to face with wild boar on the grounds, we should back slowly away. So I take a step back. At this, the pig makes a dash for it across the path and into a thicket of trees. It watches me there for a few more moments, trying to figure out what on earth I am up to. When I continue up the path towards my house, it crashes away deeper into the forest. Turns out there’s a bunch of ripe jackfruit that it was getting its nose into. It probably explains all the weird crashing and banging I hear around the house at night. I look it up later on the internet and find out that wild pigs are nocturnal, are the fourth most intelligent animals on the planet (sorry, I didn’t check what the top three were), and have been described the most dangerous creatures to hunt because of their intelligence, violence and unpredictability.
- Jungle fowl – woke up one morning to what sounded to me like a clown parade. A lot of honking and strange gobbles. I leapt out of bed and opened a window. A grey hen walked ahead of a orange rooster. It made the weird honking-gobble – sort of like a demented chimpanzee – while its partner followed behind, producing more conventional cockerel noises. The duo perambulated around the house once and wandered off. I thought of it as a very pleasant social call.
- Monkeys – they run along the tops of telephone wires and jump up and down coconut trees. Had a staring match with one this afternoon. It won, only because I didn’t want to get bitten by mosquitoes. I was carrying an umbrella in case of wild boar attacks but I put it up to pre-empt the monkey from chucking something at my head.
- Squirrels – cute, harmless. Usually scampering along Rimbun Dahan’s periphery brick wall.
- I think something lives in the spa tub on my back verandah. I can hear it rustling in the dried leaves sometimes. Since I’m not about to go out and investigate on my own, it’ll have to remain a mystery. I told Pak Jesmi, who lives on the estate with his family and takes us shopping at the supermarket in his car every week, about my suspicions when he came to Rumah Balai to duplicate the keys, and he said it was best not to see. Which I find hilarious and wise.
- There’s a scorpion/spider that I share the shower with. It’s orange and tiny. It laid a clutch of green eggs in a hexagonal formation. I think they’ve hatched because now the hexagon has grown little feelers and changes shape a little every day. And Mama is sitting on a new clutch of green eggs. Will I have to evict these squatters? Or will I have to give up showering rights and take my chances with the open-air spa bath and its mystery guest? Stay tuned!