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

Isen Mulang Festival 2010 bursts onto the stage 20-25 May!

Have a browse through this brimming schedule of unusual, not to say extraordinary, events over a jam packed 5 days.

If its not the uproarious night-time fireball or the intense and haunting karungut singing, the speed and accuracy of the blowpipe darts or the sheer brute strength and idiosyncrasy of the besei kambe, the canoe paddling in opposite directions! – there is something for everyone.

Admire the unique presentation of Dayak cuisine or choose your favourite Prince or Princess. Or check out the fabulous dances … the list goes on, and the fascination remains.

Write to us for help in making the most of this Palangkaraya Festival at

Here is the schedule of events :

Wed, 19 May 2010

Time : 08.00 am

Activities : Registration of competitors

Time : 17.00 pm

Competition events scheduled : Traditional Canoeing, Besei Kambe (canoe paddling), Large Decorated Canoes, Maneweng, Manetek (wood chopping) and Manyila Kayu (chopping fire wood), Blowpipe, Balugu (coconut bowls), Mangaruhi (catching fish from pond), Sepak Sawut (Fire Football), Habayang (traditional game), Karungut (traditional Dayak solo monotonal singing), Dancing, Prince and Princess of Central Kalimantan, Exhibition, Pakasak Lamang (cooking sticky rice using bamboo), Rattan weaving, Cultural pageant and traditional foods

Location : Longhouse Mandala Wisata

Thurs, 20 May 2010

Time : 14.00 pm

Grand Opening of Isen Mulang Festival, Cultural and Tourism Pageant

Time : 19.00 pm

Competition : Karungut singing

Location : Sanaman Mantikei – Stadium

Fri, 21 May 2010

Time : 08.00 am

Competitions: Balugu, Habayang, Blowpipe, Canoeing and Weaving

Time : 19.00 pm

Activities : Traditional Dancing and Fireball Competition

Location : Sanaman Mantikei and Kahayan River

22 May 2010

Time : 08.00 am

Competitions: Cooking, Balugu, Blowpipe, Habayang, Mangenta, Traditional Canoe and Besei Kambe Competition

Time : 14.00 pm

Competitions : Balugu, Blowpipe, Habayang (Sanaman Mantikei), Traditional Canoe and Besei Kambe Competition (Kahayan River – Under the Kahayan Bridge)

Time : 19.00pm

Competitions : Fireball and Coastal Dance Competition

Location : Sanaman Mantikei

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Time : 08.00 am

Competitions : Balugu, Blowpipe, Habayang, Besei Kambe, Mangaruhi (Location : Golf Field Km 4), Maneweng-Manetek and Manyila Kayu, also Pakasak Lamang

Time : 18.30 pm

Competitions : Prince and Princess Of Central Kalimantan Competition

Time : 19.00pm

Competition : Fireball

Location : Sanaman Mantikei

Monday, 24 May 2010

Time : 08.30 am

Competition : Prince and Princess of Central Kalimantan (Interview Session)

Location : Balanga Museum

Time : 14.00 pm

Competition : Decorated Canoe

Location : Under the Kahayan Bridge

Time : 19.00pm

Activities : Entertainment

Location : Bundaran Besar – Big Roundabout

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Time : 18.30 pm

Competitions : Prince and Princess of Central Kalimantan (Grand Final)

Time : 19.00 pm

Closing ceremony of Isen Mulang Festival

Location : Sanaman Mantikei

Read more

Dutch Reality Show on the Rahai’i Pangun

Over 3 days, production company Die Beeldbrigade from Amsterdam, were in Palangkaraya to film an episode of their popular TV reality travel show, “Waar is de Mol?” Host Johnny de Mol had invited adventurous TV personality Nicolette Kluijver, as the special guest.

The crew were lucky to be here during Isen Mulang, the local sports and cultural festival, where Johnny and Nicolette are seen enjoying heats of the blowpipe competitions. Forest camping overnight was followed by cruising on the Rahai’i Pangun Jungle Boat. The successful visit also included a warm and spontaneous village ceremony.

Read more

Isen Mulang Festival Highlights – Decorated Boat Competions – Lomba Jukung Hias

We were watching from a small canoe in the midst of these wildly decorated boats as they enthusiastically competed for the honors. Full feathered and tattooed warriors, thumping gongs, and dancers found a place amidst the profusion of banners, of painted motifs and huts, and even a make believe waterfall. These boats, with their hornbill motif, representing the spiritual life, are believed to ferry the souls of the departed ancestors to heaven. Competitors came from regencies in Central Kalimantan.
Read more

Isen Mulang Festival 19-24 May 2007

Blowpipe, fireball, enchanted boats, canoe paddling, dances, chopping, cooking, singing and other popular local games and sports are open for fierce competition between the regencies (regions) of Central Kalimantan. Heats are already on in the regencies for the best groups to compete.

This year is also the 50th Anniversary of Central Kalimantan, so there’s more happening. Kalteng Expo 2007 showcases what’s going on across the board in the province. The Museum, as well as its collection of Dayak cultural objects, will also have a special exhibition of Indonesian decorative features. Restaurants (warungs) mushroom at night along the streets and the city lights up. Literally too, when fireworks will flash into the Anniversary night sky.

Kalimantan Tourism is doing special Isen Mulang Tours which you can buy through recognized Indonesian Travel Agents, including Indonesia Ecoventure and Bayu Buana

Here is an abbreviated program :

18-20 May 2007 Long Weekend Isen Mulang Tours

3 days/2nights

Day 1 Arrival in Plk, traditional lunch on riverbank, speedboat ride to see orangutans and check in hotels. Enjoy a dip. Evening meal and traditional dance watching sunset over Tangkiling hills.

Day 2 EITHER (included in tour package)

Isen Mulang City Tour – Start your tour at Bukit Batu, or boulder hill, a place renowned for spiritual power, where the Founder and first Governor of Central Kalimantan meditated. Return for early lunch to hotels. Afternoon visit the Museum and special exhibitions and then enjoy some shopping in the traditional handicraft market. Join in the opening ceremony of Isen Mulang and later stroll along the boardwalks of the old town at sunset. Dinner and later watch the night fireball competitions and Dayak songs. Return to hotels.


Wild Orangutan Walk (conservation surcharge applicable) – CIMTROP open their 25,000 hectares of conservation peat forest to a special type of eco-tourist interested in experiencing first hand the rainforest habitat and the orangutans that live there. Experience the awe of having a unique encounter with a wild (not the usual rehabilitated) orang-utan as you watch them in the canopy above you. Trek through parts of the, conserved by the care of the CIMTROP Team. Feel the thrill as you first spot orangutans in the canopy or on the ground of their natural habitat. Follow them on foot and keep up as they swing through the tree tops.
Learn about the importance of the peatland forest at CIMTROP’s natural laboratory and the work they have been doing to protect this endangered environment.

Day 3 Early check out to watch traditional canoe races and blow pipe competitions. Depart Palangka Raya 1100 for the airport

Are you coming?

Read more