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Posts Tagged ‘south kalimantan’

Borneo Day 9: Saturday, July 29, 2017

 

Pedicab and food cart

A pedicab and customer, with a food cart, on the streets of Banjarmasin. Notice also that traffic drives on the left side.

This was my last full day in Borneo and a day for catching up on sleep, resting, writing, uploading photos, more resting, and visiting the Duta Mall twice.

Pedicab load

A fully-loaded pedicab. I don’t think you can get anything else on this pedicab – the passenger is completely packed in. Notice the large load and side bags on the motorcycle in front. Many people only own a motorcycle and must carry produce and everything else on them. They become experts at balancing loads!

After getting in late last night from our trip to Loksado, we had no plans until 7:15 pm, so Craig and I slept in. It felt good to have an unstructured day. I started the process of uploading my photos and videos from my camera. I took over 450 photos and over 100 videos yesterday, and the hard drive space on my computer is getting thin, so I had to transfer most of my videos so far to my external hard drive and upload the photos and videos from my camera in five sets.

Pedicab passengers

A typical pedicab with passengers in Banjarmasin.

Meanwhile, I took a shower, ate breakfast just before it ended at 9:55, and sent out my laundry (they came to my room to pick it up and delivered it crisp and clean later that afternoon). I wrote to my wife and sons to describe my trip and to promise photos that evening.

Bamboo load

Another example of an overloaded motorcycle. This one has a side cart attached loaded with bamboo.

Craig and I walked to the Duta Mall again to get lunch. It started out overcast, but by the time we got to the first intersection the sun was out and it was hot and humid. My sunburned face wasn’t happy, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I took some photos of pedicabs, bicycle-based restaurants (resto), and the small lanes that wound past masjid near the canals. I did this because I have been thinking the past few days about what photos I still need to take, of things that most people would find fascinating that I might not be noticing.

Canal and mosque

Canal, houses, and a mosque in Banjarmasin. They refer to this city as the Venice of Indonesia, and with over 50 canals and rivers, one can see why.

I’ve commented a few times in this series of blog posts that I’ve felt at home here in Indonesia. This is largely because I lived for two years in southern Taiwan as a missionary for the LDS Church (Mormons). This was 36 years ago (1979-1981) and Taiwan then was very much like Indonesia is now, except with lots more bicycles and no cell phones. The language was harder, as they used Chinese characters instead of Latin letters, but over two years I got to speak and read the language fairly well and felt comfortable living and teaching there. Taiwan had pedicabs, scooters, three-wheeled carts, ox carts, taxis, bicycles, street-side vendors with entire restaurants on their carts, and many more things that I’ve also seen here. So I got used to it; it was just how things were in Taiwan. Indonesia has felt familiar, like coming home after a long absence.

Selamat datang

Alleyway leading to a mosque along the canal. The says “Salamat Datang” which means “Welcome.”

But that means I’m not paying attention to what Americans would find remarkable or at least unusual about Indonesia. I want to build bridges of understanding, and I can’t do that by assuming people already understand or have accurate knowledge of this place. Understanding takes accurate information, so I’m trying to see with the eyes of someone who’s never been to the Orient before, instead of through the perceptual filters of my previous experiences. Today, as we walked to the mall, I tried to see Banjarmasin from fresh eyes and take photos that would help convey a true sense of this city to those who have never been to Indonesia.

Food cart

A typical food cart, pushed by hand along the streets. People will stop their motorcycles or cars to purchase snacks from these vendors. They are also built around bicycles or motorcycles to provide even better mobility. This one is selling amplang, a type of fish cracker popular here in Banjarmasin.

I realize that everyone looks at the world through perceptual filters; that these color all that we see, think, and do. We have few perceptions of Indonesians – mostly Americans don’t know very much about this country – and Indonesians certainly have both bad and good perceptions of Americans. I hope the students at SMAN 1 Mandastana no longer see us as the typical stereotyped ugly, obnoxious American tourists. I hope they see that we don’t all act and think like some of our national leaders; that some of us have open minds and hearts.

Duta Mall

The Duta Mall, with accompanying mosque, in Banjarmasin.

At the mall, we decided to eat hamburgers at A & W. The photos on the sign looked good, but the end result burgers were not quite the same. The bacon substitute was a bit chewy, but the overall flavor was good. I also had a mug of root beer without ice and curly fries (exactly like Arby’s). Then I had a chocolate shake for desert, which was basically a chocolate milk with soft serve ice cream added to the top like a chocolate float, but tasty.

I took some photos of stone lions to go with the cover of my great science fiction novel if I ever get it done and published. Back at our hotel after another hot and humid stroll, I stripped down and fell asleep on my bed as the air conditioner cooled off the room.

Dead Stone Lion

A stone lion guarding the entrance to the Duta Mall in Banjarmasin. I am writing a science fiction novel with the title “Dead Stone Lions.” It is a murder mystery time travel cyberpunk thriller that takes place mostly in Taiwan, hence the stone lions.

After an hour’s nap, I woke up and continued the photo uploading process. I looked up maps of the Loksado area and drew in our route. I put on my swimsuit and took a dip in the pool and read a bit of Most Likely to Succeed. They talked about how teaching students for a knowledge economy is now obsolete, a conclusion I came to a few years ago when I realized that all my precious content knowledge, acquired over years of hard study, was basically useless now that any student with a smart phone could access far more information than I knew with the swipe of a finger. The important thing now is teaching students what to do with the information that is now a free (and freely available) resource. But our school systems are still geared to the model of transmitting facts, not teaching students the critical thinking skills needed to make sense of the facts.

Duta dancer

Traditional dancer competing for the Miss/Mr. Duta Mall contest.

Indonesian schools seem to struggle with the same challenge, based on my observations of the chemistry class – the students did very well at listening and taking notes (with excellent handwriting), and the teacher did a great job of presenting and transmitting information. But they have little to no experience with how to use or apply that information, especially if they have never used the equipment and chemicals at their disposal or learned the process of scientific inquiry. We all have so far to go.

Dayak dancer

Dancer performing a traditional Dayak dance with machete and shield.

Back in my room, I finished uploading the photos. I transferred the best to my cleaned-up folder. There were 138 of them out of 450 – and many of the 450 were excellent as well. These were the ones that were good enough and unique enough to share.

David with Dayak

We posed with the dancer afterward. I don’t think he was really after my head – at least I hope not!

At 7:15 we were met in the lobby by Nazar and his family. The children wanted to eat American food, so we went back to the mall and ate supper at Pizza Hut, which was actually fairly close to the original even though the pepperoni wasn’t made from pork. Nazar said it would all be halal (the equivalent of Jewish kosher for Muslims). We had stroberi Fanta to drink. They presented us with gifts they had bought for us, including a woven bag for my wife, a boxed piece of sasirangan, a red-white-and-blue sasirangan patterned cap, a wooden Lok Baintan boat, fans, and keychains (including one of the bekantan monkey). Then, at Nazar’s wife’s insistence, they took us to a store in the mall and bought us batik shirts. Mine is brown and gold and very nice. Their generosity was amazing, as has been everything they’ve done for us on this visit. They have treated us as honored guests, and I hope someday to return the favor.

Buying batik

Nazar and wife purchasing batik shirts for Craig and I. Mine is the one hanging at the front of the rack, in browns and golds. This is an upscale printed batik chain found in malls throughout Indonesia.

There was a Miss/Mr. Duta Mall contest going on, and I videotaped a girl doing a traditional dance. A college-aged man dressed in Dayak costume performed a dance with wooden shield and machete sword, then agreed to take photos with us afterward. We drove back to the hotel and Craig presented Nazar’s family with gifts he had brought and we took final (almost) photos in the lobby.

Craig and David and Nazar family

Craig Hendrick and David Black with Muhammed Nazaruddin and family in the lobby of the Swiss Belhotel in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, Indonesia.

I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up photos, sending the best of the best to Becca and the boys, and packing. I somehow managed to get all the gifts and my souvenir hats into my suitcases, including my still damp black shoes. I got to bed sometime around midnight.

Swiss Belhotel rainbow

Rainbow over the Swiss Belhotel in Banjarmasin at the end of our last full day in Borneo.

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Borneo Day 3: Sunday, July 23, 2017

Barito River bridge

The Barito River suspension bridge, linking Kalimantan Selatan with Central Kalimantan.

We continued north through the outskirts of Banjarmasin, then turned northwest onto a major road, the Jalan A. Yani or Trans Kalimantan Highway, into Barito Kuala Regency, This road was built about 20 years ago and is the main connecting route from South Kalimantan to Central Kalimantan. Building roads in this area is difficult due to the swampy nature of the ground. This is all part of the Barito River estuary and delta, and any roadway has to be built up and foundations pounded to avoid sinking. But there was a major obstacle: the Barito River itself.

Barito River

The Barito River, looking downstream from the suspension bridge. This is the largest and longest river in Borneo and a major route for trade and travel into the heart of Borneo.

At about one kilometer width, it isn’t quite as big as the Mississippi or the Columbia Rivers but it is certainly bigger than the Colorado or anything else in Utah. To connect the two provinces, a suspension bridge was built in the 1990s and opened in 1997. They chose a spot where the river is divided near one side by an island, home to a population of monkeys. The bridge spans the main river channel, crosses the island and the smaller river division on the far side, and has a total length of just over one kilometer.

Coconut

Our coconut. Although I lived in the tropics for two years, I never actually tried a coconut until now. The milk is sour as well as sweet and the rind is tasty as well.

Once we reached the bridge, we drove out over it to the other side, then turned around and came back until we found a place to park at a coconut stand on the near side. Nazar, Craig, and I walked out over the bridge as far as the island. It is quite an impressive structure and at the time was the largest suspension bridge in Indonesia. It was a hot afternoon and the sun blazed in my face, but I enjoyed watching the large barges loaded with coal pulled by tug boats down the river. It dwarfed the Martapura, and is the longest and largest river in Borneo.

View from Siring Tower

View of the Martapura River from the Siring Towers. The top is closed to tourists right now because the large umbrellas on top blew off, but one of the guards knew Nazar and let us up on top.

We waited for a break in the traffic, then crossed the roadway and walked back on the opposite side of the bridge. Once we got back to the car, we decided to try a coconut, which I have never done before even when living in Taiwan. The little roadside stand had quite a stack of them, and an even larger stack of decomposing discarded shells. The owner took a machete and chopped off the top of the coconut. We took straws and took turns drinking the coconut milk inside. It wasn’t what I was expecting – I thought coconut milk was sweet, based on using canned versions for cooking. But this is the real, raw thing, and was a bit sour in flavor but refreshing on such a hot day. We then took turns with a spoon scooping out the white coconut rind. I think I like it toasted better instead of raw, but it was definitely worth the experience.

Banjarmasin

Banjarmasin as seen from the top of the Siring Watchtower.

Something I’ve neglected to explain in all of this is the difficulty we’ve had with finding enough drinking water. In Jakarta, the hotel provided six pint bottles of water for free, and we didn’t use all of it because we were in the hotel much of the time, with air conditioning. Now that we are outside much of the day in more direct sunlight and higher humidity than even Jakarta had, we are needed much more water. I bring a bottle with me everywhere we go. The Swiss Belhotel provides two pint bottles, but has other water in quart bottles for a nominal fee. I’ve had to use some of that, two, as I don’t dare drink the water from any sink even at the hotel. This is one expense that I don’t mind paying. Once I get back to Utah, 100° F temperatures will not bother me because the humidity is low. I knew to expect this after living in Taiwan for two years, but it’s not easy even if it is expected. I’ve had to take two showers a day and my clothes are saturated with sweat every afternoon. We aren’t working hard, but we are very tired at the end of each day just from the heat. If you visit Indonesia, just remember: it’s the tropics. There’s nothing you can do about it (unless you want to stay in your hotel room all day) so you might as well live with it. It’s part of the experience. Bring plenty of bottled water with you every day.

Banjarmasin map

A map of Banjarmasin at the Siring Watchtower along the Martapura River.

Back at the hotel, I spent the rest of the evening putting together a basic English slide show on my school to show the next day.

David by oldest house

David Black by the oldest house in Banjarmasin. Made of ironwood, it has been rebuilt. There is a museum inside.

Banjar wedding clothes

Traditional Banjarese wedding clothes, inside the museum in the oldest house in Banjarmasin.

Traditional band

Traditional Borneo band in the lobby of the Swiss Belhotel in Banjarmasin.

 

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Borneo Day 2: Saturday, July 22, 2017

Colorful jewelry

Colorful jewelry in the souvenir shops of Martapura, a center for jewelry manufacture and diamond polishing.

After visiting the diamond pits of Cempaka, we were all hungry. We dropped off Nazar’s friend at the Indomaret store and drove further along the road to Martapura. Nazar pulled off at a roadside open-air restaurant specializing in soto lambongan, a type of soup that has various types of meat, boiled eggs, rice, noodles, and other ingredients in a tasty broth. It was interesting that they only had one food item on the menu with two choices – a large bowl or a medium bowl of soto, and then 15 drink choices. Each area of the country has its own variety of soto, as we were to find out the next day.

Soto lamongan

The sign of the Soto Lamongan restaurant we stopped at for lunch. Soto is an Indonesian soup that is made differently in each province. Soto Lamongan was the only food menu item, but there were 15 different drink choices. It was very good!

We drove on to Martapura, which is the diamond cutting, polishing, and jewelry-making center near the diamond mines. We stopped at a central plaza and walked through a market where they were making jewelry. Since there aren’t very many large diamonds coming out of the mines, this jewelry uses various types of semi-precious gemstones and colored glass to make rings, necklaces, bracelets, and other forms. It was interesting to watch them making the settings.

Colored stones

Semi-precious stones and glass beads for mounting into jewelry.

We then walked downstairs where there is an open-air bazaar with cross streets and stalls and shops selling all kinds of souvenirs and other items. There were more jewelry stores with many types of colored beads hanging up. There were stores selling sasirangan clothing, the Borneo style tie dye cloth, stores selling hats and T-shirts, stores with electronics, wood carvings, and even Banjarnese style miniature boats.

Brooches

Beadwork and brooches in the Martapura jewelry district.

I found several woven reed hats that actually fit my big head (figuratively and literally), which were inexpensive and in the style that devout Muslim men wear. There were some bark hats that were very cheap, but they didn’t fit. I also found a beaded Dayak style hat for my son, Jonathan. They had Dayak breadfruit bark hats, but I didn’t buy one because none were big enough to fit my head.

Bark hats

Hats made from the inner bark of the breadfruit tree, I couldn’t find one that fit, or I would have bought one.

As it was Saturday, and Nazar and his family had missed Friday prayers to pick us up at the airport, we stopped next door at the largest mosque in Martapura, the Masjid Agung Al Karomah, brightly colored with yellow walls and blue domes. Nazar and his wife went inside for prayers as Craig, I, and his daughter waited outside and took photos.

Beads and jewelry store

Beadwork and jewelry at a shop in the Martapura souvenir district.

As I had expressed interest in buying a Javanese black hat similar to the one President Widodo wears (and most officials in the government), Nazar asked around and found a stall at the open-air bazaar next door (next to the souvenir market and bling bling stores). With a little trial and error, we found one that fit my large head for a good price. My hat collection is continuing to improve. Some people collect spoons or stamps or thimbles of a country. I collect hats that symbolize the culture of the places I visit, and I have them hanging up in my den at home.

Borneo batik

Sasirangan hanging up in a store in Martapura’s open air bazaar.

My hat collection started when I was 13 and bought a large black ten-gallon hat at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I have hats from around the world including some my sister has bought for me on her own travels. They include a Tyrolean cap from Bavaria, a Palestinian kafia that I bought in Nazareth, a fez from Jerusalem, banana hats from Taiwan, a cowboy hat from Phoenix, a sombrero from Chichen Itza, a huaso hat from Chile, an embroidered hat from Istanbul, a tri-corn hat from Colonial Williamsburg, a wizard’s hat from the Shakespeare festival in Cedar City, a Greek fisherman’s cap from San Francisco, a goat skin cap from Ghana, and various hats from JPL and other NASA facilities. One of my favorite hats is a dark blue leather cap I bought in a gift shop near Disneyland on a band trip when I was a senior in high school. I wore this frequently as a freshman in college, along with a brown leather jacket, tan pants, and a black turtle neck shirt. Yep, I was stylin’.

Stone beads

More stones and beads for jewelry making.

On our way out of town, we stopped at a roadside stall to get a snack that is famous here, consisting of small lumps of fried dough with a coconut and sugar coating. They were a bit sweet for my taste and the texture was interesting, but I enjoyed the flavor. It had been a long day and I dozed off as we drove back to Banjarmasin. Nazar dropped us off at the Swiss Belhotel and I took a shower and a nap in my room.

David by Martapura mosque

David Black by the main mosque in Martapura, called the Masjid Agung Al Karomah.

I was running short of clothes and attempted to launder some underwear, shirts, and pants in my room’s sink using some Tide liquid detergent I had brought, but despite lots of scrubbing I couldn’t entirely get the smell of sweat out of my clothes. I hung them up to dry around the bathroom. I will have to bite the bullet and send out my clothes to be laundered by the hotel, despite the high cost.

Martapura mosque

The Masjid Agung Al Karomah in Martapura, South Kalimantan.

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