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Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Location: Apau Ping, East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Up the River

the longboat at the confluence of the Kayan and Pujungan rivers
the longboat at the confluence of the
Kayan and Pujungan rivers

We arrived in Indonesia through the port town of Tarakan. From there we went up the Kayan and Bahau rivers to start our rainforest tour. The first part of the journey was: Tarakan - Tanjung Selor - Long Pujungan - Apau Ping.

The first impressions on Tarakan were very good for both of us. Then at night it turned out to be a place full of cockroaches... We had a terrific night.

We left the place for Tanjung Selor the following day by speedboat, which wasn't a too speedy boat but a rather crowded one instead. There we met a man called Ishak, who is from the village where we'll start our rainforest trek from. He helped us a lot in the days that followed.

the small canoe
the small canoe

We left half of our stuff at the hotel and tried to get the receptionist understand that we would collect them about 2 weeks later. Nobody spoke English at this place, so we had to make use of our Indonesian knowledge. :)

At dawn the real journey began. If you are lucky and the water levels are good you can reach Long Pujungan in a day. We went up the Kayan river in a longboat and the river became narrower and narrower and we met more and more rapids. The longboat is a very long but quite narrow boat (3 people can sit next to each other), it's deck is about 30cm above water level. There were 5 engines at the rear. The cargo and the bags were in the middle of the boat covered by a canvas, the passengers (there were 7 of them) were sitting on wooden plates. No protection against the rain, the wind, or the sun. We stopped once during the day. On average only 3 of the 5 engines were operating, and as sunset was coming even these 3 broke down. So we spent our night unplanned in a village called Long Bia. At night it was thundering, lightning, and raining...

the village of Apau Ping
the village of Apau Ping

The journey on the river was very interesting for us. This was the first time we came into close touch with the forest. We were looking around all the time, staring at every tree. The others were sleeping bored.

We'd set out early in the morning, and even so we only arrived in Long Pujungan in the evening. The following morning we changed for a very small boat, only two passengers could get into it. The river there was very fast and full of rapids. It's not navigable at all times. Only the smallest and lightest boats can go up those rapids. But even these have to be pulled out to the riverbank sometimes, and carried to a less rocky section of the river. At these times we had to get out of the boat and walk either on the riverbank or in the river, hopping on slippery stones.

people in Long Alango
people in Long Alango

We arrived in Apau Ping late in the afternoon. Pak Ishak took us to the village leader where we spent the following night. The people living here in the forest are of the Dayak tribe. They were very kind but they didn't speak a single word in English. We had an Indonesian phrasebook with us, we tried to communicate using it :) We could even arrange the details of the forest trek. We'll have two guides. We plan the 57 km distance between Apau Ping and Long Layu for 6 days. They have mentioned 7-9 days :) We'll see. We'll have to be in Long Bawan by the 7th of April because we know there's a flight then back to Tarakan. Who misses it, will stuck here :)

At night it was raining again.

the Bahau river
the Bahau river

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