Brilliant river spectacle in Isen Mulang Dayak Cultural Festival

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

Homeward bound, poignant in the late afternoon light on the now quiet river.
Until next time, May 2017.


Read more

Our eco cruise boat, planned to operate on rivers and lakes along the boundary of the Sebangau National Park, is well under construction. Now is the exciting time when the framework goes up, and the cabins and decks begin to appear. The interior of this traditionally built freighter will house 5 cabins and 3 bathrooms. On the quarter deck to the stern of the boat will be food preparation and covered dining areas. Above, on the deck over the cabins, will be a roomy, covered viewing deck. From there, our guests can lay back and enjoy the passing scenery. Glimpsing monkeys, including the larger proboscis monkey, several species of hornbills, the electric blues of kingfishers, swooping swallows, the velvety royal blue of a delicate species of bird of paradise, and the tawney gold of the local pheasant, is all the work they will be asked to do!

Our committment to true eco tourism, where we are working with local craftsmen and upgrading their skills by bringing in experienced internationally trained and recognised designers and builders, is happening at every level. We are already working in villages where the boat will call, and are collaborating with other NGO’s already there. This eco tourism venture aims to have direct benefits to the preservation and conservation of the Sebangau Park, native forest habitat of the Bornean orangutan. Joining us on the boat makes a direct contribution to that effort.

Read more