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Venice of the East

… out of the daily routine, out of the well known environment… it’s time for a new adventure

We started off at 2 am on Monday. Royal Brunei Air is fairly unknown despite its excellent service, so we were so lucky to have one line of seats each all to ourselves and therefore were able to sleep almost the whole flight. After one short stopover in Brunei, we flew on with an equally empty plane to Singapore and from there to Surabaya – Indonesia’s second biggest city which is situated on the island Java, like the capital Jakarta as well. We had forgotten how much we as Europeans attract attention in Asia. It took us a while to get used to the friendly but constant looks… people nudged each other, pointed at us and waved; parents asked us whether they could take pictures of us with their children. And all this with a bright red face, soaking-wet-sweaty clothes and hiking boots. Asia’s ideal of beauty obviously is different… Once someone got the first contact, they were all coming, greeting us friendly and gushingly. We passed the first two days in Surabaya with acclimatisation to the humid heat and the procurement of food. And then there was also the problem with our visa which we tried to solve unsuccessfully so far: We miscounted when we booked our flights for Indonesia, as we are staying here for 31 days but our visa is only valid for 30 days. What a pity. But as it seems there is “only” a 20 US-$ penalty per person per day for minor overstays so we will leave the problem for now and see what happens when we try to fly out from Denpasar. The day before yesterday we left Surabaya for Banjarmasin in South-Kalimantan. Our original destination is Pangkalan Bun in the west, but there was no direct flight. My friend Luisa works at a school on Java at the moment and already warned us that the system of transport here in Indonesia requires a fairly big portion of flexibility and patience :o) Well, the flight to Pangkalan Bun on the next day was fully booked (of course you can only book it on site) so we were stuck for another 2 days instead of one. So we decided there is not much point in complaining and rather had a look what there is to be seen in Banjarmasin. And as it turned out: quite a lot! For some mysterious reason, Banjarmasin is not particular on the upper end of the must-sees-list from international tourists, even though it is such a heartwarming, welcoming town. Because of its canal system it is also called “Venice of the East”. We found an exceptional nice, canny and agreeable tourist guide – Mukani – in our hotel who took us on a sightseeing tour around town, a trip on the canals as well as visit to one of the floating markets where local farmers sell, buy and interchange their goods. Since we were off the beaten tourist tracks here, Mukani’s good English is a great support for us; happily he helped us finding our way around town, recommended good restaurants and wrote down essential phrases in Indonesian in our diaries so we could be a bit more confident in going to local restaurants which had no English menus :o)

The river is a central point to the people of Banjarmasin. It is not only the place where they can bathe but also wash they clothes and dishes and they also use it as wastewater sewage.

on the way to the floating market before day break

on the way to the floating market before day break – the first market women arrive

more and more market women arrive – they start the negotiations. The one who offers most gets the goods. They are trading mainly fruits, rice, fish and bakery products

our captain

One of the few men on the market. „women have more patience for negotiations“ said Mukani.

The daily market is not only an opportunity of trading products but also an opportunity of meeting friends and chat

the white paste contains mainly flour and is used as sunscreen

If you ever plan a trip to Indonesia and you want to go to Kalimantan, Banjarmasin is definitely worth a detour and Mukani is happy to get some work :o) (phone: 0062 81351 500500;  0062 81351 500500). In a town like Banjarmasin with so little tourists, it is quite hard to get work as a tourist guide when you are not so fortunate to be mentioned in a guide book. And Mukani was a lot more agreeable than most of the other, more well known guides we met (and we met them all throughout the two days as the news of the appearance of 2 European tourists in town was spread quite quickly and everyone working in tourism business stopped by our hotel sooner or later “by chance” ;o) ) We got a flight to Pangkalan Bun today and are now preparing for our next project: searching for Orangutans in the Tanjung Puting National Park!

7 Kommentare auf “Venice of the East”

  1. Helga sagt:

    Oooooooooh……………wunderschöne Bilder…..:-)

  2. Tim sagt:

    You should be a professional photographer, mesmerizing snaps! Love the depth of field on the boat shots, truly amazing! Hope you both are well and safe, trip looks so good, last week at the Almond then onto paradise!

  3. Raewyn sagt:

    Fantastic photos Kathi. I just love how the women are dressed in their finery complete with make-up :-)

    Also love how the piles of green fruits are so beautifully towered in the boats. They look so precarious – wonder what would make them tip!!

  4. Ehtek Etant sagt:

    Hallo Ihtak, hallo Sirhc. Wunderchöne Bilder.
    Eben waren Issil und Lrak-Znieh da.
    Liebe Grüße von Anirahtak geb. Nnamssem

  5. Steve Hale sagt:

    Kia Ora from New Zealand!!!

    I am writing an article about Paeroa Old Boys Rugby Club (NZ) which will appear in Rugby News magazine. Could I please have your permission to submit one of your awesome photos of the Paeroa Old Boys/COBRAS game for publication? I cant pay you but will send you a copy of the magazine! Looking forward to your reply.


    Steve Hale (steve.hale@hotmail.co.nz)

  6. Jean-Marc sagt:

    Hello Kathi & Christian!

    We are with Mukani today, in the city, and your description of him and Banjamarsin is so accurate and funny!
    But above all, i must say that your pictures are really awesome! You are a very talented photographer. I have a DSLR camera (Sony Aplha 65& Tamron 17-50 f2.8) my pictures are not too bad, but far from the quality of yours! So sharp, colourfull, good framing, good light…I am interested to know what kind of camera and lenses do you use? Thanks, continue on, Jean-Marc

    • Kathi sagt:

      Dear Jean-Marc and Elise,
      We are very happy you followed our recommendation and met Mukani :o) If you are still there: please say hi from us! :o) How long are you guys travelling for? And where are you going next? We have had a look on your blog but my French is not that good so I didn’t understand everything… We really got a bit itchy feet – looking at your lovely pictures :o) We are stuck at home in Germany for now… but we are already planning our next trip once I’m done with my teacher training :o) We can’t quite decide between Iceland, Norway or Sweden though.
      The cameras we are using: Chris has got a Canon Eos 5d MkII and his lenses are EF17-40/4 and EF 70-200/4. I’ve got a Pentax K10D and the lenses I’m using most is SMC 16-45/4 and one tamron macro 90mm/2.8

      Enjoy the rest of your trip! Chris and Kathi