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Indonesia 2          

Crossing from Bali to Kumai/Kalimantan/Southern Borneo, September 26th-30th 2007   (by Dagmar and Bart)

The first day of our crossing we had to battle the currents out of Bali, which were especially strong right now, because of the full moon. One moment we had 4 knots with us, the next 4 against. On top we got a good force 7, when we went around the point of the island.

The next day the wind turned to his normal South East direction and became light. We had never seen so many fishing boats along the way. Sometimes in the middle of the Java Sea, we were surrounded by 40 boats, also many freighters, ferries and tugboats in front of huge lumber barges. On our watches at night, we were on constant alert, sometimes fisher boats came as close as 20 meters without any lights on. But we only figured out later, that the fishermen are doing that here, coming close to another boat, waving a fish or ray, to give you their bad luck of fishing.

After 2 years of cruising around the world, it was time to change to a new Dutch flag (thanks to Martijn & Lisette). The old one lost half of its length and was fading away.


Kumai, Kalimantan, September 30th - October 3rd  2007   (by Dagmar)

Kalimantan is the southern two-third of the island of Borneo. A high percentage of people living in Kumai are Muslim. Right now is the month of Ramadan with a lot of praying activities in the Mosque, even during the night. So in the anchorage we could listen to the muezzin all night, sometimes hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. 


Here in the small port town of Kumai, in the south of Kalimantan, we hired a 'klotok' (a river boat with captain, guide and cook, were you sleep on a mattress on the upper deck enjoying the sunset and the wildlife) for two days to travel along the Sekonyer River into the forest. 

The orangutans are a highly endangered species of the great apes. Orangutan means "person of the forest" in Malay language. They are only found in the rainforests on the island of Borneo and small corners of Sumatra. Their habitat is decreasing due to illegal logging and poachers who shot female orangutans, then capture their babies to smuggle them out of Borneo, making fast profits. Here in Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, Dr. Birute Galdikas has been working in Camp Leakey for almost 36 years researching these superb creatures and fighting for their survival.

After 4 hours on the Sekonyer River, this was our first stop, the research station at Camp Leakey. While traveling on the river, we had seen already a wild orangutan, the rare proboscis monkeys, a crocodile, macaques, a hornbill, wild pigs, red dragonflies, stick bugs...


...and a huge variety of rainforest plants, including the pitcher plant, which is insectivorous: they trap, drown and digest insects. The pitcher plant is not a flower, but a modified leave that holds water.

The rare proboscis monkey, also called long nose monkey, is named for the male's prominent nose, which droops down over the mouth. They are having long white tails and are 'wearing' white pants. The female has a shorter more normal monkey nose.

Yono, our guide, showed us around at Camp Leakey, as well as Camp Tanggui and Camp Harapan, visiting feeding areas to spot wild and semi wild orangutans. Wild orangutans are difficult to spot, because they are rare, very shy, and live mainly on their own rather than in family groups.

As individuals, orangutans display unique and rich personalities. While watching them we all, not only Soleil and her new friend Phoebe, from the boat "Blue Sky", had to laugh a lot. Their facial expressions are unique and so human.


Over the years a male orangutan's appearance will change a lot, building a big round face shield and developing a neck pouch. Old male orangutans develop long, shaggy fur especially over the shoulders and back, loose wrinkled skin on the chest and belly.




Orangutans seem to make no distinction between their arms and legs, using all of them for both climbing and feeding.  

We visited the village of Tanjung Harapan. Some of the indigenous people of Borneo, the Dayak, live there. The village community makes extra money by selling their typical arts and crafts in the little village store. 

We loved to stay on the "klotok". Anang and Imor were great cooks. They offered us a huge variety of different Indonesian meals. We were sleeping on the upper deck, enjoying the "jungle sounds" in the dark, while we were anchored on the river bank. 

Soleil and Bart did some fishing on board. We used the outdoor shower with fresh cool river water. Soleil joined Yono in steering the "klotok".

We came back thru Segonyer River to Kumai after nightfall, because we wanted to see the fire flies in the night. When the sun sets they are gathering in trees, lighting them up as Christmas trees. The fire flies flash as a warning signal and to attract other fire flies.


The next morning we left Kumai/Borneo for Batam/Riau Islands, south of Singapore, to check out of Indonesia and to go on the ferry for a day trip to Singapore.


Batam, Riau Islands, Sumatra, October 8th  2007   (by Dagmar)

Dark clouds, rain, and thunderstorms were our companions during the trip under motor to Batam. Close to Singapore and the Riau Islands the air became thick and yellow grayish, lots of plastic and Styrofoam in the water, not a nice place to stay for long. Batam lies just across from Singapore on the south side of the Singapore Strait.


Batam, for sure has seen better days. In the 1980's Indonesia tried to transform Batam into a second Singapore, carving golf courses out of the jungle, building casinos, malls, hotels..., but after the Asian financial crisis in 1997 the investment money evaporated from Batam, leaving the island littered with abandoned construction sides, leaving behind a lot of desperate and unemployed people. 




Last modified: September 02, 2008          Hit Counter