Wednesday, 23 May 2012


I have vacationed off the island of Java! If you don't know where Kalimantan is then I have provided these helpful maps for you to understand Indonesian geography. 

I live in the capital Jakarta on the island of Java and have visited several cities around Jakarta including Bogor, Karawang, Garut, and Bandung (see 2nd map). None of these cities are more than 4 hours from Jakarta. I have been dying to go and see more parts of Indonesia, hear other dialects, eat different types of food. And my chance came in an oppurtunity to go with AFS to Banjarmasin in Kalimantan Selatan (Southern Kalimantan - 3rd map).
      We met up with all the exchange students who we haven't seen in months because they live all over the Indonesian islands. We had our first meal that included fish and pumpkin leaves - this first meal was probably the most delicious I had that trip. We watched a video of the trip the year before and then met our host family. Amy and I stayed in the house of a returnee to Italy. Later that night we had a small welcoming party. Some people did a traditional Dayak dance for us too.

The next day (Thursday) we all wore our nice batik for we went to visit the governor's house.

 After telling a little about our experience in Indonesia (I live in Jakarta and do traditional dance in school. I'm from Amerika.) and taking fotos we went to the Banjarmasin newspaper office. We essentially told the same stories again and told about our Banjarmasin experience so far (hotter then Jakarta, very nice city). The next day pictures of us and our story were in the paper

Notice the snacks and tea. Everywhere you go in Indonesia you will get offered this. Very nice.
Next we went to one of the exchange student's host family house. He's the only one who lives in Kalimantan and happens to live with a city official who will run for mayor next election. We ate lunch there. After this visit we finally stopped doing press and went off to see some mines.At the mines you could pan for diamonds or other special rocks in the small pond type area they had. It was crazy loud - big machines were digging holes for water I believe. I could imagine going deaf living and working so close to such loud noise for a period of time. After playing in the mud we returned to our host's home.

Large clouds of smoke spilled into the air from the machines
I wasn't lying - there was playing in the mud.
Sunrise over the river

Friday we woke up early to go see the famous floating markets of Kalimantan. We arrived a bit late so most of the sellers were gone but you could see boats full of fruits, vegetables, hats, anything worth selling. I imagine it must be pretty busy every day.

Then we sailed to a floating library. It was small and useful if you live on the river with no access to another library.

View from the library - a woman doing the washing
After lunch we went to the monkey park. Tons of crazy little monkeys running everywhere. They will take anything not tied down and leap atop your head with no notice. Also their claws are stabby. And they're heavy. Just telling the truth BUT it was fun to see all the monkeys.

Me NOT loving the monkeys on my head. This was the 2nd or 3rd one to jump on my head that day mind you

Jumping on the boats before you even have a chance to get out

Eating their peanuts and bananas

Climbing everywhere

Staring you right in the face
After this we went to dinner - the next day would have an early start too. We would be sleeping over in another city too so we had to pack. Early Saturday morning we got up for a long drive. Four hours was it? We stopped to eat - unmemorable food. We finally arrived at our hotel and spent the time going from the pool to the hot springs. The next day was a big adventure day. We got up and took motor over a crazy beautiful landscape. Bridges over fast moving river, stretches of forest, a little clearing of houses made of wood - what I imagine when I think of Kalimantan.

Dogs - you rarely see them in Indonesia

Just a tiny river
It was a crazy motorcycle ride. On the way back we got to walk which is where all these fotos come from. Our destination was a waterfall in the middle of the forest. I've been to waterfalls before and played around in their rivers and have even gone under one but this one was a lot more serious. It was fairly big and powerful. Not so powerful that you can't swim in it's river - we did and it was really cold and fun. But at several points we had to 'save' each other from floating away from our little corner and down into the rock filled fast moving river. There were a few brave souls who climbed up the cliff and jumped. No AFs students were allowed though a few wanted to try. I can absolutely see why AFS would not think it was a great idea.
As I went down to the river/waterfall ...

After our walk back we had lunch next to the river. Then we went rafting. When I imagine rafting (or when I have rafted in the past) you do it with those big orange rafts, life jacketed up and go down fast rapids. This was traditional rafting I guess. The raft was made from bamboo tied together with fibers or leaves from trees. On top of the long flat board looking raft is a little sitting area. Also made of bamboo it was a bench long enough for 3 people. Our guide paddled with a long piece of bamboo.The river was very gentle with little areas of rocks that didn't effect the ride much. We could stand up - felt very in tune with nature. We took turns paddling. We stopped for a bit in the middle of the river then just kept on going. It was very relaxing.

We went back to Banjarmasin after showering after this adventure. The next day we would leave Kalimantan. As expected we had a photo session with our host family. They were really great. I hope they understand how grateful I/we (because me and Amy were hosted together) were to stay there.

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