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Posts Tagged ‘indonesian food’

Jakarta Day 9: Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Group shot on hotel stairs-s

The Teachers for Global Classrooms 2017 Indonesia cohort. This was our last activity together before going our separate ways.

Waiting in batik 2

The group waiting for our tour bus wearing our best batik.

With our final session completed, we had one more event together: our final dinner. We dressed in our finest batik and took photos on the stairs in the hotel lobby. Then we boarded the bus and drove out of the city to a restaurant called Talaga Sampireun. It was my last experience with Jakarta traffic. At one point, the bus was stalled in a traffic jam and men with packages of snacks on their heads were walking between the cars selling them, then running to the side when the traffic started to move.

Batik clothing

Waiting for the bus wearing our batik.

The sign for the restaurant promised that it would be a “culinary experience by a lake.” It was laid out as a series of huts surrounding ponds with coi fish and was a very nice place. We took photos and talked, and the food arrived. It was delicious, and my favorite was the honey grilled shrimp on skewers.

Mid road salesman

Selling snacks to cars stuck in traffic. Entrepreneurs will pop up wherever there’s an opportunity, and Indonesia is no exception.

There were geckos climbing the walls, the first I had seen in Indonesia. I took a few photos of them. We were reluctant to leave, knowing this was the last time we would all be together. We had shared a mutual experience of learning and teaching in Indonesia even though we were in different cities, and this bonded us together.

Talaga sampireun

Our tour bus and the Talaga Sampireun restaurant sign. We had to travel for an hour to the outskirts of Jakarta to get to this place, which was a beautiful departure from other places we’d visited. It promised to be “a culinary experience by a lake.”

Some of us were extending our trips and had early departures the next day; those that were going home tomorrow would be leaving the Jakarta airport at 10:00 pm, so they were going to see the old city of Jakarta on their way out. I had wanted to get my experiences in Yogyakarta and Bali started, and the wording on the itinerary originally sent to us made the excursion tomorrow sound optional. It actually wasn’t, but my arrangements were already made. I have enjoyed Jakarta, but I want to see even more of Indonesia and am eager to get going with the limited time I have left here.

Restaurant pathway

Pathway to the restaurant rooms, which were built as separate huts overlooking ponds with koi fish. It was very quiet and peaceful here.

We said our last goodbyes in the lobby. I arranged for a taxi to take me and Nikki Moylan to the airport, as she had a flight around the same time as me. Her husband was joining her in the morning. I spent the rest of the evening repacking my bags, including the stuff I had left at the concierge desk while in Banjarmasin. I was hoping to put at least one bag into a locker at the airport and leave it there for the next five days, so I packed accordingly.

Doug and Mike-s

Doug, Mike, and Sarah at the restaurant as we have our final meal together.

And so the official part of my voyage here has ended. I will be entirely on my own now, to see how well I can survive by myself in Indonesia. I am almost out of the snacks I brought from America which have helped me in the evenings when I’ve been too tired to go find a meal. Now I’ll have to survive on Indonesian food and my limited Bahasa Indonesia knowledge. What will I learn in the final five days of my journey? I’ll report on that through more blog posts and in my final reflections once I am home.

Huts and lillypond

The restaurant consisted of separate huts around walkways and lilly ponds.

Come here little fishie

At the restaurant, feeding the koi fish.

Jennifer Nikki Ursula

Jennifer, Nikki, and Ursula at the restaurant.

Glow globes at sunset

Glow globes over the water at sunset.

Glow globes at night

Glow globes at night.

Sitting at table 2

Our group at the restaurant waiting for the main courses to arrive. It was served family style, from central plates, and included delicious honey prawns.

Geckos

Geckos on a pillar at the restaurant. This was the only time I saw them in Indonesia, and they were all over the place, perhaps because of the lilly ponds.

Group freestyle-s

Group shot at the restaurant. Freestyle!

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Borneo Day 8: Friday, July 28, 2017

Group with guides by longhouse

Our group posing before a traditional Dayak longhouse near Loksado. You can see that I am still wet from the bamboo raft trip. The sign says: “Malaris customary hall.” From left to right: Nazar, his wife, Craig Hendrick, myself, Amat, and Budi.

After our bamboo raft was tied up to the shore we clambered up the riverbank to a small town on the Amandit River near Loksado in Hulu Sungai Selatan Regency in South Kalimantan, Borneo. The trip down the river had been unforgettable. Now we had one more adventure yet to come on our trip to the Meratus Mountains.

Kids in doorway

Kids in a doorway at the village where we exited the river. After a short and steep drive up a trail, we returned to the main road and headed back to Loksado.

Amat and Budi were waiting for us, and we climbed into the small minivan and drove up a very primitive road, the minivan’s motor complaining, until we reached the main road. We drove over the rickety wooden bridge again – it must be stronger than it looks – and continued back to Loksado. On the sides of the road, I noticed piles of strange spikey globes which Nazar said were snake fruit. They grow wild in the rain forest here and are collected and sold to markets by the local people. I tried one when I got back to Jakarta and it was not particularly tasty and left a bitter aftertaste. Its skin peels off and looks just like a snake’s skin, hence the name.

Snake fruit pile

A large pile of snake fruit. It grows in large globular clumps in the rainforest and is harvested by locals. The skin peels off and is very similar in appearance to snake skin, hence the name.

Now it was Amat’s turn to be our guide. In Loksado we drove a short distance further down the river to where a metal bridge crosses, just wide enough for one motorcycle but not our van. We crossed the bridge on foot, and it resonated with our footsteps and bounced up and down like a miniature Galloping Gertie. On the other side, we walked up a cement pathway into a Dayak village.

Crossing Galloping Gertie

Budi, Craig, and Amat crossing the metal bridge over the Amandit River near Loksado. It resonated up and down much like the infamous Galloping Gertie.

We first stopped at the traditional longhouse. Although the people here now live in individual houses, they keep the longhouse in good condition and use it for family gatherings and ceremonies. It is a very large structure, built primarily out of bamboo and raised up on a foundation of stilts. We walked inside, and the floor joists are covered with thin strips of bamboo to make a floor, comfortable and stronger than it appears. Around the inside perimeter are a series of doors leading to small rooms for sleeping quarters of individual families, but during other times everyone joins together in the large central space. A poster on the wall described some of the ceremonies they perform here.

Dayak longhouse

A traditional Dayak longhouse. These can be up to 150 feet long with small apartments along the inside walls and a large enclosed central space.

Since they are animists, they do not follow Muslim halal rules and eat pork. They will slaughter and roast pigs for the ceremonies. I did not follow most of what Amat said, translated through Nazar, but did record video of it that I hopefully can go through later.

Dayak longhouse 2

The other half of the longhouse. They are built up on stilts and made mostly of bamboo, which is plentiful in the rainforest, grows quickly, and is used for most construction.

We continued to walk up the road to the village, passing the houses and people as we went. Peccaries (a type of small pig), chickens, and dogs roamed around. A motorcycle passed laden with bundles of reddish sticks. Then we saw a group of ladies sitting on a porch scraping the bark off of more sticks with knives. Shavings of bark lay around the porch, and the aroma was heavenly. It was cinnamon. Further on, a small fenced off patch had small cinnamon tree seedlings growing in it, protected from the pigs and chickens. The trees themselves are grown away from the village – we didn’t see where – and harvested when they reach a large enough size. To think I’ve used cinnamon to season my bread and desserts which may have been scraped off on this very porch. Such is the nature of this strangely small and interdependent world.

Inside longhouse

Interior construction of the longhouse. Apartments line the outer walls and face toward this large central area. The floor is made from bamboo slats. Hardwood pillars and stilts support the structure.

This seems like an idyllic village, with men playing card games and women plaiting baskets and animals wandering around. Yet the Dayak people have a violent past; they were known as headhunters and ferocious warriors. The Iban, or Sea Dayak, were feared pirates and raiders. There are about 50 sub-groups and separate tribes speaking up to 170 different dialects, some only spoken by a few hundred people today.

Kalimantan_Ethnic_Groups

There are about 50 different tribal groups of Dayak people in Borneo. This diagram shows the major groups living in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). The Banjar and Melayu peoples, related more to ethnic Malay groups, live along the coastal rivers. The Dayak inhabit the mountainous interior. The group we visited were of the Lawangan tribe (pink area) in the Meratus Mountains of southeast Borneo.

Although headhunting was outlawed by an inter-tribal peace treaty in 1874, there have been resurgences such as during World War II when Allied soldiers trained Dayak tribesmen in guerilla warfare against the occupying Japanese and encouraged a return to headhunting. Isolated incidents have occurred as recently as the 1990s.

Living in the rainforest, the tribes established sustainable practices without having to cut down trees. They believe in a life force called Semangat that is present in all people, animals, plants, and even in the water, rocks, and mountains. It is especially potent in the heads of executed enemies, and collecting them was essential for many village ceremonies and for a warrior’s status.

Dayak tribesman-1920

Photo of a Dayak warrior in the 1920s. Notice the elongated earlobes.

This belief in Semangat led the Dayak tribes to live in sustainable harmony with the rainforest around them. You could say they invented the Green Revolution, and we can learn a great deal from them. Yet because of economic forces and unscrupulous officials, over 30% of Borneo’s rainforest has been cut down for the hardwood trees and planted to palm oil and rubber. Here is an excellent article on the Dayak peoples: https://www.indoneo.com/en/travel/meet-the-dayaks-ex-headhunters-of-borneo/

Scraping cinnamon

Scraping the bark off of cinnamon trees. This is dried, ground up, and sold throughout the world. The aroma was heavenly!

Pig and dog and chicken

A peccary, a type of small pig, with dog, in a Dayak village near Loksado. Since Dayak peoples are animists or have converted to Christianity, they do not follow Muslim halal practices. The pigs are roasted for many ceremonies.

Beyond the village we came to a very sketchy wooden bridge across the river, which looked like the one out of The Emperor’s New Groove. Some of the slats had large gaps between them. We walked carefully across and continued up a path along the other side of the river. We saw a waterfall ahead, and had to use ropes to scramble over some slippery rocks next to the river to reach the waterfall, where we took photos. It was a very peaceful place.

Rain forest path

Walking through the rainforest toward the waterfall.

There was one thing that marred the beauty. Visitors had left trash behind. Not much, but there shouldn’t have been any. I’ve seen the same thing – piles of garbage left behind – in Hobble Creek Canyon near where I live in Utah. You would think we would all know better than this by now. I know I am trying to write generative stories here, not negative ones, so let me just say if you ever do visit a beautiful place, don’t spoil it by leaving trash. Please pick up after yourself. In fact, pick up more than you bring and gradually we can clean up the messes we’ve left. I picked up as many pieces as I could and carried them out in my pockets.

David by waterfall

David Black posing near the waterfall at the headwaters of the Amandit River in Borneo.

On the way down the path I noticed rubber trees by the pathway blending in with the forest. They were being harvested. To gather the natural latex, a slit is carved near the bottom on one side of the tree, sloping downwards around half of the tree. A leaf is driven stem first into a small hole made in the tree at the end of the slit, and the white latex collects in the slit, flows downward to the leaf, and drips off of the tip of it into a blue cup placed on the ground. It is a slow process, with only a few drips per day as the sap rises through the bark of the rubber tree. The latex is collected and processed. As the tree grows, the slit at the bottom moves up and a new slit is made below the old one. Some of the larger trees had about six to ten inches of slits moving down their trunks.

Mature rubber tree with slits

Mature rubber tree with a series of slits near the bottom. The white latex rubber sap oozes out of the lowest slit as it rises into the tree, then flows down the groove, out onto a leaf, and drips into a small cup for collection. The slits are carved only around half the trunk, or they will kill the tree.

We walked back over the wooden bridge and back down through the village. Two ladies were mending nets and weaving a basket on their porch, which I photographed. A small green building at the bottom of the village was labeled as “Taman Kanak Kanak” or Kindergarten. I saw no other schools around.

Latex drips off leaf

The white latex rubber flows along the groove of the lowest slit, then out onto the leaf, where it drips into the small cup for collection. Only a few drips fall each day.

We crossed back over the metal bridge, climbed into the minivan, and drove back up to Loksado, where we said goodbye to Amat. It was just sunset as we drove away, the end of the day coming early in the tropics. As we drove back over the winding road, I took a few final photos of the sacred Meratus Mountains.

Playing board game

Villagers playing a board game.

On the way back, we stopped again at another small town for late evening prayers, then in Kandangan to have a local popular dish for supper, called ketupat kandangan. It is steamed rice formed into triangular lumps and cooked in sweetened coconut milk, with fish or salty boiled eggs added. It was good, but I wasn’t a fan of the eggs. Then we climbed back into the minivan and headed back to Banjarmasin. My feet were still wet from rafting on the river (as well as my behind and legs) and my right leg was not very happy with being cramped up again. It was a long drive and I could only sleep fitfully, trying to change position to get my leg comfortable but without much success. But the discomfort was worth it for what had been an incredible day.

David in bamboo hut

This bamboo hut was along the trail to the waterfall. Almost everything here is built out of bamboo.

We arrived back at the hotel around 11:30. I crashed in bed as soon as I got to my room, barely taking enough time to get undressed and take my contact lenses out. I was glad for being able to sleep in the next day.

Weaving net and basket

Tending to nets and weaving a basket. The man is making a traditional musical instrument.

What a day this has been! My dreams of what to see and do in Borneo have all been realized. This was a long day, what with eight hours of driving, but it was so very worth it. I am grateful for what Nazar did to set up this trip, to Budi for driving and knowing all the right people and places to go, for Amat for his knowledge of the local people, and to Amli for guiding us down the river. I will never forget this day.

Chickens crossing road

So, why did the chickens cross the road?

Cinnamon tree seedlings

Cinnamon tree seedlings, fenced in to protect them from the roaming peccaries.

Rain forest at sunset

The road back to Loksado from the metal bridge that leads to Malaris.

Sacred mountain sunset

Sacred mountain sunset.

Sacred mountain

Sacred mountain in the Meratus Mountains of Borneo.

Rice and egg in coconut milk

Ketupat Kandangan, a local favorite dish made from lumps of steamed rice cooked in sweetened coconut milk. The boiled eggs were a bit too salty, but otherwise the dish was delicious.

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Borneo Day 7: Thursday, July 27, 2017

Traditional house model

Models of a traditional Banjar house and a royal barge, at the food court in the Duta Mall in Banjarmasin.

We left the school at the end of the school day after having taught for about five hours total today. We were tired, and rested for a time in our rooms. Knowing that we needed to make an early start, Nazar made no plans for us this evening, but we decided to go out exploring the town for supper. I also needed to get some more rupiah, as the amount needed to pay for our trip tomorrow was more than my cash on hand. I looked up Star networked ATMs in the city, which my wife said should work with my credit cards (I had had some trouble with my Visa card in Jakarta). One was located near the Duta Mall, so I looked up maps and drew one out for the easiest route to get there from the hotel.

Banjarmasin near Hotel

Our walking route from our hotel to the Duta Mall in downtown Banjarmasin. The numbers are ATMs with the Star Network. I needed to get more money out for our trip the next day.

I knocked on Craig’s door at about 7:00 and we walked out to the street, called Jalan Pengeran Antasari. We walked east-southeast to the intersection of Jalan Kolonel Sugiono and turned north. I was getting quite hungry and needed something immediately, so we stopped at an Alpha Mart and got a Hungry Cow. We passed over a canal, then came to Jalan A. Yani. This is a larger road, and we followed the lead of a lady who was crossing, as we didn’t want to get hit. We turned east and soon came to the ATM, a bank of three in a glass booth near the road leading into the mall parking lot. My regular Visa still wouldn’t work – I think the PIN number was accidently reset when I tried it at the hotel in Jakarta because I didn’t know the correct PIN until I my wife e-mailed it to me. My USAA Visa did work, fortunately, and I got more money out for tomorrow and the next few days. When I get out 240,000 rupiah, it seems like a lot of money but it is really only about $20. I got out a bit more than that.

Pizza

This was the meat lover’s pizza. The pepperoni wasn’t pork, and it needed a bit more cheese, but it was pretty tasty.

We walked into the main entrance of the Duta Mall and found many shops and stores selling electronics, toys, and other goods. There was a food court, and we decided to get pizza, which was OK but needed more cheese. The pepperoni was a bit chewy. We had to get food cards at a central kiosk and use them to pay for the meal. It is the same scheme as used in carnivals – you always have some leftover tickets, so that the carnival gets more money than you actually use on rides.

Eat me

I’m not sure if I want to eat this or not, but at least the kentang goreng (fired potatoes or french fries) look good.

We walked up an escalator and discovered other food choices on the second floor: A & W, Baskin Robbins, and Pizza Hut. Oh well! We looked around a few minutes and explored through a large supermarket. There were interesting food choices such as live eels (snakes?), snake fruit, dragon fruit, Sponge Crunch, and green tea Kit Kats. After buying a few snacks for tomorrow, we headed back to the hotel the way we had come. The narrow road of Jalan Kolonel Sugiono was a bit hard to navigate at night. Without sidewalks, it is hard to know which is safer – to walk with traffic but not be able to see it coming, or to walk against traffic so we can dodge if needed.

Eel infested water

After eating supper we wandered through eel infested waters in the mall’s supermarket looking for snacks for tomorrow’s trip. That was the obscure movie quote for the day . . .

I got my camera batteries charged up and uploaded all photos. I e-mailed some to my wife and children along with descriptions of my day, as I have been doing every night. My wife has been reposting some of the photos I send on her Facebook page.

Mushrooms

After supper we explored the mall and a large supermarket, which sold everything from live eels to snake fruit and dragon fruit to these mushrooms. There was no durian fruit, thankfully.

Green tea Kit Kat

Green tea flavor is very big here. It’s not a flavor I would choose for chocolate, but there is it.

Sponge crunch

Something isn’t quite right here – I thought sponges were – well, spongy. So how do you make them crunchy?

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Borneo Day 6: Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sasirangan hanging up

Sasirangan patterns hanging up to dry at the factory along the Martapura River in Banjarmasin.

After resting for a couple of hours, we met Nazar, his wife, and his older daughter in the lobby. He was taking us to see how sasirangan, the Banjarese form of tie-dye, is done. As we drove across the river the clouds that had been gathering all day were turning dark black and rain was immanent.

Threatening clouds

Threatening storm clouds over Banjarmasin. This is supposed to be the dry season.

We crossed the Martapura and traveled along a series of ever smaller roads leading us along the west bank. The dyeing process requires a lot of water, so the factories are located inside some of the Banjar style houses along the river we had seen on our trip to Lok Baintan. As we drove along the roadway just to the west of the river, the skies opened up and the rain began. Nazar commented that this wasn’t normal for the dry season. It came down in torrents and buckets, and before long it was impossible to tell where the rainflow ended and the river began – it was all just one sheet of water. We parked under and overhang at the factory outlet and watched the rain for a minute. I took some photos and video.

Rainstorm on river

The rain begins – it came down so fast it became hard to tell where the runoff ended and the river began.

This was quite a storm, but not the worst I’ve ever seen. I’ve been through the edge of a typhoon in Taiwan, and I was once in a downpour in Minneapolis in April 1986 that was beyond belief. The rain there came down so fast that the drainage system couldn’t handle it, even though the city is along the Mississippi River. The pressure in the drains was so great that manhole covers were being blown into the air and fountains of water eight feet high were geysering out of the holes. On my way to the airport a short time later, my shuttle van drove through what looked like a shallow puddle that wound up being five feet deep. The engine got wet and stalled. They had to call another shuttle van to come get us – it drove more carefully into the “puddle” and I had to climb out the window and over to the second van with my suitcase so they could take me on to the airport.

Sasirangan choices

Sasirangan samples in the factory showroom. You can find all types of colors and patterns.

As we were looking at samples in the sasirangan store, a load thunderclap and lightning stroke boomed out and the power went out. I was able to use my flash for photos, but not for video. Craig got his cell phone out and set it to flashlight mode so that I would have some light. We crossed the road to the dye factory on the other side along the river. A man showed us how they use stencils to trace the traditional patterns onto white cloth. The cloth is then tied tightly with small ties to follow the pattern of the stencils. Parts that aren’t to be dyed in the first color are covered in plastic bags.

Tied green cloth

Died green cloth with the ties in place. Where the ties gather in the cloth, the dye won’t penetrate and will leave white places, just like western tie dye. This may be the origin of tie dye.

Next door were the dye vats. Since dye works better in hot water, the room was like a sauna with steaming vats of various colors. My camera wanted to fog up, but I did get some good photos and video. The men there were wearing gloves and dipping the cloth repeatedly into various colors. The bags are moved to the previously dyed areas so that other colors can be applied where the bags had been. The cloth is then rinsed and hung up to dry on railings between the two buildings, something a bit hard to do in this rain.

Plastic covered parts

Dyeing the sasirangan cloth. The dye area was a sauna bath from the steaming hot dye vats. To protect color in areas, plastic bags are tied on to prevent the second color from reaching the first color.

The rain soon let up, and we returned to the outlet store. We looked through the colors; there were many beautiful combinations, and I bought two different bolts of cloth. One was purples and magentas, the other oranges and brick red. These will be for gifts for my sister and daughter.

Dye vats 2

The dyers used rubber globes to repeatedly dip the fabric into the dye vats. The power was knocked out by a lightning strike nearby in the storm. Between the humidity from the rain and the steaming dye baths, this room was like a sauna. They had many types of dye powders and could do any combination of colors and patterns.

Now that the rain was ending, we got back in the car and drove through winding streets to find a restaurant for supper. Nazar knew an excellent place for bakso nearby, and we drove past alleyways and along narrow roads to get there. The late afternoon light after the storm provided a silvery golden cast to everything as it reflected off the wet pavement along the alleyways. It was extremely humid after the rain, but the air was cooler and quite comfortable, so I rolled down my window to get better photos. We passed a cemetery, including the memorial to a local hero. After a few minutes, we reached the restaurant. Nazar’s son rode a Gojek to the restaurant and met us there. I had beef bakso and chilled bottled water for supper, and it was excellent. I like bakso a great deal, and have had some good stuff, but this was the best I had anywhere in Indonesia.

Alley near bakso place

Alleyway near bakso kitchen after the rainstorm.

Bakso kitchen

Bakso kitchen in Banjarmasin where we ate after visiting the sasirangan factory.

Bakso soup

The best bakso in Banjarmasin.

Road after rain

Traveling through the narrow streets of northern Banjarmasin after the rainstorm.

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Borneo Day 4: Monday, July 24, 2017

Craig teaching class

Craig Hendrick teaching a class at SMAN 1 Mandastana.

Craig and I had taught for about three hours this morning, sharing details about our schools and home states with the English classes at SMAN 1 in Mandastana. We were grateful for the chance to rest and cool off a little in the faculty room, which has fans blowing. Nazar had some work to do, so we had some sealed plastic cups of water (which are popular here) and some green cakes and talked about how the day went.

Fish on ice

Lunch on ice!

Even though school wasn’t yet over, Nazar told us that he was on special assignment with us this week and didn’t have to teach his afternoon classes. We loaded into his car as the students went to noontime prayers in the school mosque and to lunch, and he drove us to find lunch ourselves. We stopped at a green building just off the main road between Banjarmasin and Central Kalimantan. It was an open-air restaurant that specialized in grilled fish.

Grilled fish

Grilled fish and vegetables with sambal sauce.

Different types of fish were on display on ice in buckets in the front, and we picked one for each of us. They put the fish on grills and served it to us with various types of salads, and vegetables, such as cucumbers. The fish was very good, but Craig and I hadn’t known there would be so many side dishes, so we had chosen fish that were too large for us to finish. Nazar took the leftovers home. So far, he has paid for all of our meals, and we insisted that we should pay for our fair share. He said we could treat him to American food the next day, and that we would also pay for everyone’s trip to Loksado on Friday. I know he is receiving a stipend, just as we are, for his expenses, but I hope we are not being too much of a burden on him.

Galum trees

Natural vegetation in the area of Banjarmasin. This is fairly swampy ground, part of the Barito River estuary. The trees here are called galam trees and are useful for building house foundations because the wood stays strong in wet conditions.

Before the fish arrived, Nazar took us over to the side of the restaurant where we could look out across the undeveloped land beyond. It is swampy land, with low-lying bushes and studded with trees growing up about 20 feet. He said these are galum trees, which are quite useful for the foundations of houses when people can’t afford ironwood or concrete. Galum trees are cut into logs, which I’ve seen stacked along the road, and are good at absorbing water and remaining strong under wet conditions, because that is what they grow in naturally.

Galum wood

Stacks of galum wood beside the main road.

Nazar drove us further along the highway toward central Kalimantan. We entered a town along the Barito River and drove to a park on the riverside. Banjarese longboats were pulled up to the pavilion on the river, and we watched as large barges navigated up and down the river, carrying coal from the mines further north and east in the Meratus Mountains. It was peaceful, and reminded me of Hannibal, Missouri on the Mississippi River and the riverboat we rode there. There is something relaxing and unhurried about a river town; it moves to the flow of the river and never hurries or stops, but just keeps rolling along. I found myself humming “Old Man River” in my mind as we watched the boats.

Barge on Barito River

A barge on the Barito River, which is the main artery of transportation for goods in central Kalimantan.

We drove back to Banjarmasin over another bridge across the Barito River and back to the main road. I’m beginning to recognize the houses and businesses we pass, the rice fields about ready for harvest, and the small towns and mosques. I’ll talk about rice farming later, but I enjoyed the chance to see more of the country life.

Family boats on Barito River

Family long boats on the Barito River.

As we traveled, we passed a number of yellow freight trucks, which Nazar said were carrying palm nuts to the processing plant. There is a large palm plantation near here, where a number of farmers sold their land and now work for the plantation. At least no rain forest was cut down to make way for the palm trees.

Blue barge

Blue barge near Banjarmasin.

We drove back to the city and Nazar dropped us off at the hotel. We went to our rooms, and I showered and laid down to rest and take a nap. I needed it. Craig got supper at the hotel, but I wasn’t hungry enough. I’ve been having trouble with my intestines being a bit backed up since coming to Indonesia, and my appetite has suffered. I ate some of my snacks instead and uploaded photos.

Gas station

Gas stations are rare, as they take up quite a bit of real estate and must be built up above the level of the fields. So along roads such as Jalan A. Yani, small stands sell bottles of gasoline in different colors for the type of fuel (regular or diesel) and octane level.

Although we weren’t looking for supper, Craig and I decided to do a little exploring at the end of the day. We walked across the bridge over the Martapura to a small open-air market on the other side.

Preparing for Independence Day

A stand in the Banjarmasin market selling patriot bunting in Indonesian red and white, preparing for Independence Day.

It was past sunset, and the stalls were closing up for the night. There were the usual stalls and carts doing business, including a cart selling bakso and fried tofu. Indonesian Independence Day is coming up on August 17 and many stalls were selling red and white bunting and flags. We didn’t stay out long, but circled back around past a mosque as the evening call to prayers rang out. We walked back to the bridge and returned to the hotel as sunset faded into twilight.

Cap stempel marketplace

Marketplace in Banjarmasin at twilight. For some reason, this is the district for buying cap (signature chops) and stempel (stamps).

Sidestreet at twilight

Open air market at twilight.

Masjid

The Masjid Noor mosque, which was broadcasting the evening call to prayers as we walked past.

Unloading garlic

Unloading bags of garlic in the open air market in Banjarmasin.

Marketplace at twilight

Open air market in Banjarmasin near the Martapura River, across from our hotel.

Bakso street vendor

A street vendor making and selling bakso from his cart in the open air market.

Sunset over Banjarmasin

Sunset over Banjarmasin

 

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Borneo Day 3: Sunday, July 23, 2017

Popular spot

Water taxis unloading at a popular spot on the Martapura River. We were to eat here for lunch.

Nazar, his wife, and daughters picked us up at the hotel at 11:30. We drove along ever more narrow streets leading out of the city toward the northeast. I noticed we were paralleling the Martapura River, which we had just traveled on earlier that morning to visit the floating market of Lok Baintan.

Soto bang amat place

Our restaurant for lunch, specialing in soto bang amat, a type of soto (stew) popular in southern Kalimantan (Borneo).

Nazar was a bit cryptic about where he was taking us, saying it was a surprise. We were on a kind of frontage road leading along the river; I had seen motorcycles and bicycles traveling along this road while on the river. Then I realized where we were heading – to the very restaurant I had noticed this morning where water taxis were dropping boatloads of people off and smoke was rising from grills.

Soto bang amat

Soto bang amat. It is a stew with chicken, boiled egg, noodles, vegetables, rice, and lime. Very delicious!

This restaurant is famous as the best place to get soto bang amat, a type of stew with rice and noodles, boiled egg, and other ingredients. Each region of Indonesia has its own style of soto, and which is best is a hotly contested argument. We each got steaming bowls while another band playing traditional music entertained us. The restaurant was crowded and the sota bang amat was good. I tried not to think of what the “other ingredients” might be and just enjoy the experience, and found I quite liked it. Grills were smoking, cooking up skewers of meat which we didn’t try but which had quite a tantalizing odor.

Craig and David with band

Craig Hendrick and David Black with a traditional band at the restaurant.

After the meal we posed for photos with the band, then picked up the car and headed back through Banjarmasin to our next destination: a major bridge across the Barito River.

Nazar's family

Nazar’s family (except his son, who was practicing for the Indonesian Independence Day celebration).

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Borneo Day 1: Friday, July 21, 2017

Wong Solo delivers

Wong Solo delivers. And it is guaranteed to be halal.

We rested for about an hour as Nazar went and picked up his two daughters and son, then came back for us at the hotel. The two oldest sat in the very back of the car, Craig and I in the middle seats, and Nazar and his wife holding the youngest on her lap up front. I am still trying to get used to drivers sitting on the right side of the car and driving on the left side of the roads, but at least the traffic here is nowhere are bad as Jakarta.

We drove back toward the Sabilal Muhtadin mosque and stopped at – you guessed it – a Wong Solo restaurant nearby. Since I was showing so much interest in taking photos, Nazar thought we ought to try one out. They are a kind of Indonesian fast food place, and are about as representative of Indonesian food as McDonalds is representative of American food. The menu has a number of pan-Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng (fried rice) and ayam goreng (fried chicken), which is what I ordered.

While we were waiting for our food, we went over our schedules for the coming week. Nazar told us on the way from the airport that he had a surprise for us, and the surprise was that he was working out a trip to Loksado on Friday where we could go rafting on a river in the rain forest in the Meratus Mountains and see the Dayak people. It would be a long day, and he had to work out the price with our driver and guide, but Craig and I agreed to pay for all of us whatever the cost would be. I knew it would be much cheaper than anything I could negotiate on TripAdvisor or Viator or other online service, and that we would get a better guide. He had seen the sign about the free trips to Lok Baintan in the hotel lobby and had worked out a trip for the four of us on Sunday morning. Tomorrow we would be going to see the Cempaka diamond mines. This left us four days to be at the school and teach classes. He also wanted to be sure we didn’t over do it and had worked out to get us back to the hotel by about 5:00 each day, given we aren’t used to the heat or humidity.

Hidden Wong Solo

A sign for Wong Solo. This must be Han’s long lost brother. The sign also advertises  ayam bakar (grilled chicken) and ayam penyet (some other type of chicken). And of course, they have ayam goreng (fried chicken).

The food was good. My fried chicken was tasty, served with steamed rice and sambal sauce. I also had a strawberry drink that was kind of like an Italian soda. We tried to talk with his children in English and the few phrases of Indonesian we know. The youngest daughter is about five and not in school yet. The middle child is a daughter of about 14, a bit shy at first and not too sure of her English. Nazar’s son is the oldest at 17 and has pretty good English skills. He won’t be able to join us for many of our adventures because he has been chosen to represent his school in the citywide Indonesian Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 17, and has practices every day. This is quite an honor.

After the meal we got back in the car and drove back to the hotel. I spent the balance of the evening settling in and uploading and cleaning up photos.

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