Friday, September 02, 2016

Roselinde: Jungle Expedition - Meeting Wild Orangutans in Borneo

If you had told me one year ago that I would go to the jungle of Borneo to see wild orangutans in Indonesia, I would have called you a dreamer.

In my third year of college, nearing my graduation, I had no idea where I was going, but I decided not knowing where to go was a good place to be at.

All I knew for sure is that I wanted to explore the world and I was never going to give up on my dream.

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered that a dreamer is exactly what you need to be. If you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

Whatever happens next, I feel like I have stayed true to myself by seeing a childhood dream become a reality: meeting wild orangutans in Borneo.

Arriving in Central Kalimantan

I will start from our arrival in Central Kalimantan. As we exit the tiny airplane that brought us from Jakarta to Pangkalan Bun, the sweltering heat and pressing humidity immediately envelop my body: I had arrived in Borneo.

Most of us gather near the air conditioner, tucked into a corner of the arrival’s hall. After reshuffling some items and stuffing my valuables in a waterproof bag, we walk to our bus.

The bus takes us from the airport to Port Kumai, passing shops, mosques, karaoke centres, and the only shopping mall in the city.

At Port Kumai we will board traditional wooden klotok boats that will take us into the jungle.

Before we enter Tanjung Puting National Park by boat, we are welcomed at the dock by local traditional dance group Sanggar Sa’Haluan.

They showcase their vocal skills and smoothly coordinated choreography. Their feathered headdress, colourful costumes, and charming smiles add the final touch to their captivating performance.

Afterwards, we chat, take photos, and follow each other on Instagram. Then, it was finally time to board our boats and leave for the jungle.

Day 1: Cruising the Sekonyer River to Tanjung Harupan

We are split in groups and board the klotoks by using the other boats as stepping stones to get to our own boat. We leave Port Kumai and head to Sekonyer River, the main river in Tanjung Puting.

The boats move slowly but steadily, giving you every chance to admire the jungle at both sides of the river. Mickey, our guide, tells us about the river.

The Sekonyer river has always been a lifeline for both humans and animals living in Tanjung Puting. It’s not just the forest that’s full of life.

The river is teeming with hidden fauna, including crocodiles, though the pitch-black water makes it especially hard to find them.