Author by Sukma Suciati
Photo by Sukma Suciati, Yun Pratiwi and Mark Rayner
What do you think when you hear Borneo or Kalimantan? Do you imagine its rainforests, tailed-men, head-hunting, orangutan, or maybe its big rivers that surround along the island? You can keep it all in your mind, but let me take you to a little journey to depict Kalimantan, especially Kalimantan Tengah; through a river cruise tour.
This river cruise tour has been introduced or got fame since 2010, and becomes one of the most recommended tours in Palangka Raya, the capital city of Kalimantan Tengah. It is recommended because it gives a little depiction of the local people living way in the past. Living along the riverside, in the middle of the forests. How does the environment mean everything for Dayak people, as their source of life, and also the main transport? Not only that, the starting point of this trip is still around downtown. It takes 5 – 15 minutes from the inns around the city to get to Soekarno Monument, its starting point. Therefore, this tour is usually taken for school excursions, national/provincial events, aquatic sport events, or just for recreation. As you enjoy the tour, you also get the imagination of how Dayak people lived in the past, around the capital city.
And in this chance, we did the tour with a group of Catholic Church Community, for their year-end and Christmas recreation. We used two boats, accommodated 25 – 30 persons per each boat, as we were a group of 50. Some of them had tried this trip, but the others had not yet. Therefore, while they enjoyed the view, I explained a few things about this trip. How long this tour took time, where it went, and what would we see during the trip.
Beneath the Kahayan Bridge, our small boat was the first one that drove off from the quay, leaving behind the bigger one and moved slowly, feeling the soft airbrushed our faces.
With some snacks and orange juice, we enjoyed that 3 p.m. view. The light was not that intense, but not shaded, too. The sunlight was permeated through the clouds, refracting the yellowish light beneath. It was such a perfect time for taking videos and pictures obviously but keep in your mind about your safety first. Because we used a smaller boat, every movement of ours was really affecting the tilt of the ship. So, if you want to take pictures or videos on the boat, make sure that you do not weigh one point, or maybe you can take a turn with your friends to capture those moments.
As usual, this trip takes an hour to go back and forth along the Kahayan riverside, until the cross section between Rungan and Kahayan river. But this time, we went around the Pahandut Seberang riverside, where we could see some houses near the riverside, forest, and also the backside of some tourist places like Rawa Rofi, Kumkum, and also Kampung Lauk.
While enjoying the scenery during the trip, one of our guests, Fanti, told me how she felt during the trip.
She was amazed by how the forest could still exist near the city. As Kalimantan is wide-known for their forests, she never imagined she could find it easily in Palangka Raya. She really enjoyed the view of how the forests still grew well along the riverside though she could not deny that the temperature is sometimes too hot because of its natural condition. Then, she made video-call to her brother proudly, showing him the scenery around and enjoyed the trip, even saying she wanted to take him to come here too, someday.
Not only its enchanting scenery, but she loved the people’s hospitality the most. Whenever she went to Palangka Raya, she was very touched by how the people treated her nicely, even though she is from Flores, Nusa Tenggara Timur. During the trip, we also met the local people who drove their klotok (small machined-boat), and also the children who played near the riverside. They waved their hands and smiled towards us, even though we did not know each other. We waved and smiled them back, as the boat kept moving along the river, turning back to the quay.
At 4 p.m. we arrived at the quay, and all of the guests were satisfied with the trip. And before they left the location, they took more pictures in front of the monument, because some of them would leave Palangka Raya in a few more days. At least, this could be one of their best memories in Palangka Raya.