many ways, the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan may be termed the
last frontier. Although it sits right in the middle of the Asia-Pacific
region (on Borneo Island), and is a paradise for the visitor, the area
remains largely undiscovered.
tourist who seeks true unspoilt nature will enjoy the regions rainforest,
which covers almost 94% of the total land space. It is not just the place
where Julia Roberts frolicked with the orangutans; it has rivers, lakes,
and shores, as well as indigenous people descended from the Dayak tribes
who still live in long houses. For all these reasons, the province is
justifiably known as The Lung of the World.
also have a unique chance to explore the last frontier. Opportunities for
investment in four key economic sectors: mining (coal and copper),
forestry (logging, plywood and rattan), plantations (palm oil and others)
and tourism. And perhaps the most significant thing about these natural
wonders is that they are still undiscovered
Moreover, the New York Times described:
Tropical forests are the 'lungs of the world' and a tourist's paradise.
Central Kalimantan is home to the Dayak people
and the orangutan, and rapidly becoming a top destination for the more
enterprising visitor to Indonesian Borneo. LARGELY COVERED by dense jungle, much of which has yet to be fully explored,
Central Kalimantan is a fascinating destination for open-air and wildlife
is one of Indonesia's largest provinces and since most of
it is covered with dense jungle, it is regarded as one of the 'lungs of the
world', almost on a par with the Amazon basin. With more than 55,000 sq. miles of tropical rainforest, sustainable
supports a trade in timber products that is an important element in the economy.
Mining (for gold and other precious minerals) is the second most important
economic activity, followed by palm oil production - there are almost 900,000
acres of oil palms under cultivation.
Although the Governor, Asmawi Agani, acknowledges Central Kalimantan is one of
Indonesia's least-developed provinces, he believes there are substantial
resources awaiting discovery. "There are vast unexplored mineral deposits
hidden here which in time will attract large investment to the benefit of our
people," Mr. Agani says.
Most of the population of nearly two million are engaged in agriculture,
although an increasing number now work in the tourism industry. Mr. Agani says
the key priorities this year are to upgrade roads in order to improve the
transport of agricultural produce and timber, and to open up the country to
adventure tourists. "The second priority is the upgrading of the harbor and the third is to
improve facilities at the airport," he says. MOST OF the population of
Central Kalimantan is engaged in plantation agriculture.
Apart from the sheer scale of the rainforest, much of which has yet to be fully
explored, Central Kalimantan is a fascinating destination for more than just
backpackers. Wildlife watchers can opt for a variety of habitats, from thousands
of square miles of swamps, hundreds of square miles of lakes, the coast and, of
course, the jungle. The orangutan is probably the best-known Kalimantan primate and its conservation
is being carefully monitored. Wildlife preservation camps are popular with
tourists who can observe orangutans in their natural habitat there.
Central Kalimantan is cross-crossed by ten fairly large rivers which all
disgorge into the Java Sea. They are the transport arteries for a wide variety
of goods from the interior, and serve as the main link for many of the
inhabitants. The original inhabitants of Central Kalimantan are the Dayaks, who are believed
to have migrated from Yunan in South China during the last Ice Age. The
traditional Dayak home is a 'long house', sometimes up to 150 feet in length and
raised on stilts 20 feet off the ground.
Dayaks are the original inhabitants living in long-houses raised on stilts. The houses, called betangs, are still in use today. Made of tropical hardwoods,
they are raised off the ground so that they can withstand flooding and are less
vulnerable to attacks by wild animals. As many as 200 people might live in one
house, with each family having a room to themselves and another for receiving
guests or for meetings.
Tourists to the province can visit these wooden houses, some of which are more
than a century old, richly carved, and beautifully preserved. It is also
possible to be a guest in a betang and learn something of the Dayak culture.
The Dayaks are great dancers, with a number of ritualized performances, each for
a specific occasion. Some are ceremonial, for weddings, for example, some are
for the welcoming home of heroes such as successful hunters or warriors, others
tell the story of mythical characters.
A rarely-performed dance takes place at the sacred Tiwah ceremony, which
accompanies the spirit of the dead to its eternal resting place. The ceremony
can last up to a month, at the end of which a beast such as a buffalo is
sacrificed. The cost of provisions and the expense of materials for new costumes
for such a ceremony are the main reasons why it is rarely held; usually a few
families will join together for a Tiwah.
For tourists who want to leave for the busy world and still feel they must stay beside the sea, there are plenty of
beautiful beaches. Among them is Tanjung Keluang, popular with visitors to the
Tanjung Putting National Park and also home to orangutans.
Mr. Asmawi aims to boost tourism and his two-year action plan is focused on
improving facilities. "I hope within that time you will be able to stay in
a hotel on top of a mountain and have a back-to-nature experience," he
says. "Central Kalimantan is part of paradise on earth."