Banjarmasin, long the trading capital of South Kalimantan, sits astride the deltas of the Barito and Martapura Rivers. Canals were once the only highways, now more than 60 canals, lined densely with stilt cottages, are still used for transportation. Klotoks fly along the narrow waterways, gangs of kids dive in and grab on for free rides, and the everyday life of the people is open to all passers by.

Further up the canals are the rice paddies, parched now in the dry season, the grains ripening and patiently picked stem by stem by women with a homemade device looking like a spinning top, with a cutting edge. Slowly the rice is gathered and sold to the market. The nearby tiny village is home to the farmers, fishermen and boatmen, living a life simple and constrained by the seasons.

A drive to Banjar Baru leads to the Lambung Mangkurat Museum which offers a fascinating insight into the old life of the trading peoples of the region and the Dutch colonial era. Outstanding pieces are an ornate beaten gold backed throne came from a bygone era of sultans, and a serene landscape with lines of marching regiments going to the top of a hill. We saw exhibitions of the art of bark fabrics, some gossamer thin, patiently beaten out using a bamboo mallet. And another one of ceramics, with a wonderful naive painting of the smooth appealing shapes of earthenware vessels.

Canal tours and Museum visits can be arranged by WOW Borneo.

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    Last week WOW Borneo (KTD) arranged our trip and accompanied by our wonderful Dayak guide Dodi (and ’trainee’ guide Jonathan) we travelled upto see the long house (*betang*) at a little village called Tumbang Gagu, right up in the headwaters of the Sampit (or Mentaya) River.

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    We had a wonderful 3 days and 2 nights on the beautiful Rahai’i Pangun. The whole crew looked after us every minute with great food, cool drinks and all the comforts to make our trip memorable. Thanks to Lorna, Sayful, Suryadi, Patirwin, Anto, Ujeng and Ready!

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    This Jungle River Cruise gave us a great present! The river and time pass slowly on the boat. Not only orangutans and jungle but also the people, especially the children of the village moved us so much. I was impressed!

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    To all on the Rahai’i Pangun, thank you for introducing me to the wonders of Central Kalimantan over a fantastic few days. Loved the boat, loved the concept, loved the food – and the company was pretty great too!

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    It was the trip of a lifetime!

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    It was so moving to visit the two villages. Kanarakhan and Gaung Baru were memorable in their exchange of culture with us.

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    Thank you very much for an unforgettable jungle experience. The long boat journey through the flooded jungle was great. The food was excellent as well.

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    The river cruise was beyond awesome. We had a great crowd on the boat. We had fantastic food and nothing was seen as too hard to do for us from all the crew.

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    Thank you again for taking such great care of all of us during our recent visit to Kalimantan. You and the crew were so professional, kind, generous and fun. Our group really enjoyed getting to know you, eating the delicious food presented to us each day, and relaxing on your boat.

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  • SUE HEWETT (21-24 DECEMBER 2012)

    This cruise was everything we’d dreamed and more. The boat is very comfortable, the crew efficient and courteous and the food delicious!  The guide couldn’t have been better – fun, passionate, thoughtful, knowledgeable and great company!

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    This tour was one of the best vacation and wildlife experiences I have had (and I have seen pretty much everything in Africa). Despite all it has to offer, Kalimantan is a tough place to vacation in so I was not expecting much. However, I was blown away by this trip.

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