Shadowing the sweeping bends and lowland forests of the lower Katingan River, canals and rivers draining the forests and stranded river bends form a web of waterways. Stained coffee colour, the water is an almost perfect mirror, and those photographers loving the effects, and turning their photos 90 degrees, are rewarded with whimsical images of the spirits of the forest. Most of these photos were taken by Osanna Vaughn, recording our trip made in early November this year.
The Spirit of Kalimantan charter boat cruises the Rungan and Kahayan Rivers, The forested riversides and winding course of the river, create many islands, lakes and waterways. Some of these islands are pre-release refuges for rehabilitated orang-utans from the BOSF program, which guests on board can see as we cruise along. Air conditioned cabins, comfortable screened saloon lounge, open air deck with easy chairs and roof top terrace is comfortably furnished for up to 8 passengers. Food is freshly prepared on board and served in the saloon. Relax and watch the scenery slip past. We stop at villages and have some short walks and canoe rides to break up the day!
We’re opening a new cruise route on the Katingan River from November 2016. Explore with us the Sebangau National Park, traditional Dayak communities, float over the perfect reflections on black water lakes, watch as the thorny rattan vines are woven into beautiful mats, all accessible from the Katingan River and our adventurous little boat, the Ruhui Rahayu. The Sebangau National Park is home to the largest population of wild orang-utans in the world, as well as many other endangered species such as the Malayan sun bear, gibbons, hornbills and the clouded leopard.
Be the first to experience this new route from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, we experienced an El Nino long dry season marked by smoke from land clearance fires. This year, with the promised La Nina weather effect, a few dry weeks in August may be giving way to an early onset of the rains. Today, as I write this, heavy rains are falling in Palangka Raya. A few days ago, I joined a cruise on board the Rahai’i Pangun and experienced the lower water levels and baking heat of the end of the dry. The clear skies and rich morning and evening light were the perfect conditions for photographs.
Tumbang Gagu Longhouse was founded in 1870 using the traditional Dayak method of releasing a chicken and seeing where it roosts. In an isolated area, on a rising by a pretty rivulet, the longhouse was built by traditional owners, mainly village head Singa Raja Antang bin Lambang Dandu, after a grant from the Dutch and Antang’s own personal wealth made it possible. Close to the sources of his wealth in the abundant forests nearby, strategically placed on his export routes to the port at Sampit, the longhouse became home for his 3 wives, each in her own apartment, with the other families.
55 meters long, it is built in the traditional style atop huge ulin ironwood tree trunks and other supporting poles numbering well over 200. Roughly hewn by adzes and towering 5 meters over the sloping ground, the longhouse provides protection and shelter for the families living in the midst of the forest. The niched poles leaning against the longhouse give slippery access, but may be quickly raised if trouble looms.
The longhouse remains in the hands of descendants of the original owners, though currently only two families live there. In the central apartment live Antang’s grandson, Pak Labuang and his wife, Ibu Leri, now old but determined to keep the tradition and majesty of the longhouse alive.
A village has grown up nearby and natural resources are still being mined from the abundant natural environment. Gold mining is a dirty and inescapable feature of the waterways, most large trees have now gone, traditional slash and burn agriculture is penetrating the re-growth forests, and banana plantations are springing up in their wake.
About 7 hours from Palangkaraya by road, and a further hour by speedboat on the Katingan River, the last leg to the longhouse is by foot, just over 2 hours along a hilly forest trail. Long periods of rain made the rivers misty and the trail slippery and flooded.
From the outset, losing all phone signals was a bonus. We had a leisurely time visiting in the village, seeing preparations for the brewing of the local rice wine and chatting with a village elder about his warrior ancestors. The provisions we brought were generously cooked by Ibu Leri, and eaten in her traditional kitchen.
Heavy rains and high water levels made an exciting canoe trip upstream, through dense stands of bamboo into places where you can hear the hornbill call, beyond the muddy mining waters. Skimming across pure black water in a tunnel of brilliant green and stopping for a dip in the clean water was a fitting finale to the trip.
Arrange your trip to this distant and little known longhouse through us at email@example.com.
We had picture perfect weather for the decorated boats, Jukung Hias, competition on 20 May. Its an integral and dramatic part of the annual Isen Mulang Festival in Palangkaraya. Festival dates never change and are from 18-23 May, though the boats may sail on any of the days. Isen Mulang is ‘never give up! and it celebrates the independence of the province of Central Kalimantan as a Dayak homeland from South Kalimantan in 1957.
Ritual decorated boats or bamboo barges are used in tiwah or secondary burial ceremonies in some areas, symbolising the boat of the dead carrying the departed spirits to Lewu Tatau, the Prosperous Village. Rivers are the highways here in both the living and spiritual worlds!
These competition boats are sponsored by different local Government Departments, Provincial and Regional, or organisations. Rivalry is intense, giving decorations that riotous colour, dominating green, red and yellow, favourite colours in the Dayak pantheon. The smaller canoes, klotoks, carry judges, who follow the boats and rate them for the final prize giving, based on the appearance, themes, and quality of the dancers and musicians.
Why not join us next year! Drop us a line at wowborneo.com.