Monday, June 17, 2013


                        If you ever go on the Mahakam River in Kaltim (Indonesian Borneo), make sure you stop by Sangkuliman. This small Banjar village is a good place to stay if you’re looking for the smiling  pesut (river dolphin). It is also a good starting point for your trip on the Mahakam.

Water rises and it can last for few months. Kids are not complaining about the floods...

I’ve been there for around 2 months, teaching English, environmental awareness, and other stuff in the Elementary school and I quite liked it. Thanks to RASI, a NGO taking care of the pesut Mahakam, they made it all possible. I was part of an Eco-tourism project that should make travelling there in the future a little bit easier. We also try to make people aware of the importance of not throwing everything in the river. The same river where they shower, fish, and wash their clothes or dishes. 

3rd grade class in Elementary school

Staying in this village was nice. I think you need to spend quite a while in order for locals to really get close to you. They’re so nice they quickly become like family. I was amazed by their politeness, especially kids. Let’s put it this way. I was teaching English (my second language) with my poor bahasa Indonesia to students who also just learned how to speak bahasa Indonesia, as their first language is Banjarese.  I think if I were to have some kind of similar experience in Canada it would have been complete chaos. The kids were like really nice and trying to help you teach them. They would barricade their class door to keep students from other grades from entering or disturbing the class. 

painting garbage bins (from water galon)

Apart from teaching, living there is quite nice. There is football going on everyday on a field that looks like it has experienced war. There are ping-pong tables and I find myself quickly addicted to it. Indonesians are really good at playing badminton and games keep going till very late. I thought I could play badminton but I found out I was better at watching only. It is also nice to swim over there or fish all night long using crushed Mie Goreng as bait. 

playing football

Living there is very simple, and I can’t help noticing that people look happier than in the big cities. It was refreshing, car free, and stress free. I also learned about being happy not doing anything, or taking it slow, which is something hard to do for white folks. Make sure you stop over there. :)

CES (motorized canoe)