Time is running out with only 4 or 5 days left in Kalimantan…
…so cramming as much as possible before returning again to Pontianak in Kalimantan’s western region.
Stuck in Banjarmasin
Not much luck on returning to Banjarmasin. Buses and Opelets are on strike as part of the demonstrations.
Not sure whether the demonstrations are because of the collapse of the 33-year-old New Order of the Suharto government earlier this year in May, or for another cause.
Whatever the reason, the past 4 months have been plagued with cancellations, major disruptions, and much uncertainty. Although not a great time to travel in Indonesia in 1998, experiencing this country by island-hopping has been amazing.
Spending most of today traipsing around shops trying to get the gems bought from Martapura set into a bracelet, this jewellery will take ten days to make. Also learn that some of the gems from Martapura are “Alexanders” – synthetic (glass) and not worth setting.
Giving up on the jewellery idea as we leave Banjarmasin in five days, head for the market instead.
Cages – a tragic but local fascination
Just over a kilometre from the Borneo Homestay, wandering around another section of the Jalan Pasar Baru market, we stumble across rows and rows of cages filled with wild animals in captivity. It seems as though locals need to own and cage everything – deplorable and distressing.
Walking past the caged baby eagle, baby monkey (newly born), snakes, parrots, and birds, their sorrowful eyes pierce any passerby. All the captive wildlife looks terribly sick.
Incredibly, anything wild has to be owned, caged, and sold.
While visiting Kalimantan but also other parts of Indonesia over the past 4 months, I’ve seen tiny squirrels in puny cages, baby Orangutans, and all types of baby monkeys in cages or squashed into cardboard shoe boxes – probably all endangered species.
Shocking to see, I feel like going along and opening all the cages and freeing all the animals and birds, but I’m sure I would be arrested. Or worse, have a riot on my hands with locals. The continual logging in Indonesia in 1998, forced wildlife to become displaced and vulnerable to capture – doubt this has changed over the decades.
In another small isolated village where all the jungle and forests were being relentlessly cleared, walking through the roadside market, a shoebox was shoved into my face then hands. Having no idea of its contents, I opened the box. The tiniest fluffiest white baby monkey popped its little head out. Big sad eyes stared mournfully back at me – I have never seen such a rare monkey and probably never will again. No doubt, another endangered species. Wanting to buy the monkey to release it back into the jungle, looking around, there was barely any jungle left. The monkey would have been recaptured and resold. Unable to return to Australia with a monkey, for me, this was a real dilemma and had to leave the monkey behind. Heart-wrenching. People will sell anything, whether to genuinely feed their family or just for the sake of making money from exploitation.
Exploring more of Banjarmasin
Take a rustic Klotok (traditional river boat) for the afternoon to explore a little more of Banjarmasin along the busy Barito River.
Life along the riverway is always fascinating albeit normal for locals. Each time we pass someone along the way, they wave, especially the children – waving until their arms are about to fall off – very sweet. Locals emerge from their small corrugated iron and wooden shanties, greeting us with warm smiles.
Bound for Pulau Kaget Nature Reserve, a four-hour return trip for the 12-kilometres downstream from Banjarmasin – settle into the hard unforgiving timber seats.
Pass huge plywood mills, built apparently after a total ban on log exports in the late 1980s. Many of the massive logs in the mills must be hundreds of years old – tragic.
Pulau Kaget Nature Reserve
A delta island that was formed by the sediment of mud, which grew from the riverbed Pulau Kaget (Kaget Island), is intriguing if not mysterious. Almost all of the wetland reserve’s trees are dead and dried out – very strange. The whole area contains rice and vegetable crops, so not sure how this island can be called a reserve.
The Proboscis Monkey – famous for its large belly and long red nose – is what we came to the reserve to see, Sadly, these primates are extremely aloof, which is probably a good thing, otherwise, they would be poached and sold.
A photo of these monkeys at the reserve was not to be as they are much too shy and scared of humans…unlike the long-tailed Macaque monkey on the previous boat trip down the Barito.
After circumnavigating the island, decide to head back as huge black clouds form before torrential rain pours down – luckily, the driver has raincoats.
Clouds give way to scorching sun and without any shelter on the Klotok, only our sodden hats and a sarong shield us from baking.
Two solemn masts of a sunken timber Pinisi boat jut precariously out of the murky water with inquisitive police checking out the area – obviously hit something and sank. Boats, cranes, or other, everything that sinks in this river is left in the river. Nothing is cleaned up, ever.
For those that haven’t seen a traditional Pinisi boat or read my previous posts, this photo helps…
Erau Festiva in Tengarrong
Since returning from the Cempaka gold and diamond mine in Martapura it feels as though we’re just wasting time.
Wanting to head northeast to spend several days at the Erau Festiva in Tengarrong – some 600 kilometres from Banjarmasin – discover the festival is cancelled this September due to the ‘crisis, crisis’. This famous festival includes fabulous art and sport (agility) performances, traditional Dayak tribal ceremonies, and sometimes, Malay art is on display.
Leaving Banjarmasin again
Really starting to get bogged down in Banjarmasin, so venture to the airport and manage to book an early flight out for tomorrow, bound for Pontianak. But, not before bargaining hard at the airport for some gorgeous Mutiara pearls…