Central Kalimantan 10 | Indonesia travel

Kalimantan Tengah.

Home of Dayaks, the indigenous people of the third-largest island in the world.

Within Dayaks, there are hundreds of subgroups, all with their own dialects, customs and cuisine.

They are known for many things, most famously, their ancient tradition of headhunting.

But one of the most defining aspects of their culture was how they used nature as their source of life for centuries.

That's what I'm on the hunt for.

Okay, here I go again! And this time to.

.

.

.

.

.

Palangkaraya.

Hello, from Palangkaraya, the capitalcity of Kalimantan Tengah.

It's quite a large.

.

.

it's quite a large city.

There's a lot of space, so the roads are really wide.

The sidewalks are really big.

There's a lot of space to move around in.

I've also found a family who has taken mein for a few days, so I'm super grateful for that.

But I'm looking forward to getting out of the city and start exploring the villages.

All.

.

.

travel to the villages kind of start from this city.

It's really hard.

I've been hearing, toget from one village to the other without kind of coming back to the mainroad to the city, because all the roads in between kind of don't exist yet.

But I'm really curious then what it looks like out there, and the kind of things I'm going to be seeing, and the people I'm going to be meeting, so.

.

.

Super excited! From the very start of my trip, most Dayaks I met were from the Ngaju tribe, and predominantly Christian.

And while as expected, there wasn't much nature to experience in the city, I did get my first taste of Dayak cuisine, and glimpses of the ingredients from the jungle, or as they call it, “sayur alam.

Once outside the city, I started to get asense of how much life has changed for Dayaks, compared to their ancestors.

On my first drive to a village, I saw what was once dense rainforest was now rows of oil palm trees.

As far as I could see for hours on the road.

But it wasn't until I reached thevillages when I comprehended the real effects of the environmental disaster of this province.

Villages are forced to source their fruits and vegetables from the market in the city three hours away.

Fish and shrimp that were once abundantin the rivers are now being farm-raised in the city, frozen and driven out instyrofoam boxes to the villages.

The land Dayaks live on has become too weak to grow crops, or is more valuable to sell to oil palm companies.

The water has beenso contaminated by fertilizers and chemicals from mining that the wildlife has died.

It felt like a science fiction movie.

It was supposed to be the other way around.

The countryside grows the food and ships it to the city.

The irony was too great.

A culture that went from using nature as their source of food, to depending on mankind to create the food because nature was gone.

Was I too late? Was what I was looking for already gone? Thankfully, no.

So, hello from Desa Tumbang Manhute.

It's about four hours away from Palangkaraya, and I tagged along with the Borneo Institute because they work with villages in this area and have a really good relationship with the people here.

So I've gotten a really greatintroduction to the locals that way.

And it's a great village to be in, becausethis area of Kalimantan is where the village still owns the land around them, so it's easily accessible to find everything wild that I could possibly imagine.

A lot of the women here.

.

.

.

.

.

were so willing just to take me on a walk and show me different plants that you can use to eat, and also answering any questions I have about their local cuisine and how to make certain things, so it's been a really great place to be.

Pretty remote.

.

.

no cell phone reception.

I'm lucky that they have listrik, or electricity, here.

And the weather is just as I expect 40 kilometers away from the equator.

Super hot and humid with a lot of mosquitoes, but.

.

.

I'm pretty used to it by now.

And I'm having a great, great time here.

I actually super love village life apparently! The further north I traveled, away from the city and oil palm trees, the more I found rainforest alive and well.

And it was the villages around herethat introduced me to real Dayak culture and tradition.

I saw the continued practice of the original Dayak religion, Kaharingan, before the majority of them converted to Christianity or Islam.

Kaharingan is an animist religion, closely related to Hinduism, where large stone boulders and old trees arebelieved to contain spirits that are worshipped.

Their ceremonies include aburial ritual where bones of the deceased are exhumed after 40 years, after which the body has decayed.

The bones are washed and moved to a sandung, a miniature house built on ancestral land.

I also visited betangs, or longhouses, made from the ulin tree, one of the strongest, densest timbers in the world, and sadly now one of the rarest because of deforestation.

Because of the durability of these trees, these betangs are centuries old, where generations of families used to live together as a community under one roof.

And being a guest at a Dayak wedding let mewitness Ngaju tribal customs performed, such as when the bride and groom'sfamily members fight to cross the threshold, or the groom stepping on anegg before entering the ceremonial house to cool down the spirit and make it happy.

Hello, from the middle of the Bornean rainforest! My.

.

.

the bike that I've been riding on.

.

.

.

.

.

something's wrong with the gears.

.

.

.

.

.

so kind of stuck right now at the moment.

But it's early in the day, so there's still a lot time to figure it out before it gets dark.

I'm really glad I've been able to seethe true Bornean rainforest without any.

.

.

.

.

.

any human interference, besides me being in it.

It's just so beautiful here.

The water is still clear, the birds, you can hear the insects.

The trees are so high.

Don't even need my sunglasses when I'm hikingin there because it's completely shaded.

But it's really beautiful.

I'm so glad I canbe here and see.

.

.

see the real thing.

Finally, this is where I foundwhat I was looking for.

The biodiversity of plants from the rainforest and the cuisine that developed from it.

Taking a walk with villagers was a lesson in theplants eaten from nature.

The small markets in this area sold the variousroots, shoots and leaves that are a big part of the traditional Dayak diet, and nothing I had ever seen before.

The cuisines and recipes I learned aboutreflected Dayak lifestyle.

Like their method for preserving meat, the starch they ate before rice existed, or how they celebrated the rice harvest when it was cultivated.

It was some of the most diverse food I had ever eaten in Indonesia, simply because of the ingredients they harvested and how they lived.

Hello!Hiiiiiiiii! Kalimantan Tengah.

Despite the environmental disaster that is clearly affecting people's lives here, I still managed to discover the pulse of Dayak life.

It's still beating.

The food, the culture and the nature.

But it will only continue to beat, if we can help them preserve it.

.

Leave a Comment