August 30, 2013

Palangkaraya - The "Monkey" Boat

Okay, just one last post about my time in Palangkaraya.

One day myself and some other MAF visitors-to-Palangkaraya types got to hitch a ride on the USS Monkey Boat. Some nice Swiss folks let us fill up the vacant spots on the cruise ship.

Where were we heading? Well, if you weave and wind your way up a river or two from Palangkaraya, you get to this Island in the Rivers that is home to some orangutans. These particular orangutans are being rehabilitated back into the wild, as Borneo and a wee bit of Sumatra are the only place in the world a few still actually live in the wild.
Yes, I called this boat the "Monkey Boat", and yes I know Orangutans are not monkeys, but hey, we did in fact see some monkeys on the way.
Above is our faithful Captain. Notice the throttle cable is made from an old bike pedal gear. Below is what looks like a sawmill of some sort, maybe a bit of the style you would see in black & white pictures in a museum in any given small town in BC, back before things like "legislation" and "rules" complicated the way folks cut down & processed trees.
(I apologize because all of these pictures are from my super awesome Samsung phone). Below you can kind of make out a guy walking on floating logs. This is a brief glimpse of a 1/4 mile long log boom floating down the river, with around a 1/2 dozen tug boats keeping it from smashing into stuff.
Below a typical little abode we'd pass now and then once away from the city. River life!
I guess you would call these "river signs" since signs along a road are called "road signs". I think I know what most of the meanings are, but the one on the far right !? It can't mean "straight stretch" because that would conflict with the "sharp left turn" sign...

Here is a village we passed along the way. This river is the main way to get to and from here, very typical to many, many villages in this part of Borneo.

Okay, from what I understand, these contraptions are one of the main reasons most rivers in this area of Borneo have "0" clarity. These are homemade gold finding machines. They dredge the bottom of the river and send the silty sandy water mix down a sluice box, and to do this they use an exhaust-less super LOUD engine. It's just crazy to see. There is usually a little covered area on the back, and on one I saw a Mom & young kid hanging out the side. The whole family was living on it. Imagine your family living on a half rotten dock 6ft from a Harley Davidson V-Twin!

Most of this mining is of the illegal kind, but I really can't blame those who are poor just trying to provide meals for their families.

Below is an orangutan! (Where's my good camera!?) I heard that the word "orangutan" comes form the Indonesian / Malay words "Orang" meaning Person or Human, and "Hutan" meaning Jungle or Forest. I can see the forest people resemblance. They are pretty big when you get up close, I'd hate to mess with one!

A couple of shots of the short boat ride to the island to see the orangutans.
Thus concludes my adventures in Palangkaraya. I really enjoyed seeing another part of Borneo, spending time with our Comrades in the South, and seeing how MAF is used there. Next post back to Tarakan!!

August 15, 2013

Flying off of Rivers - Part Deux

So, after we picked up our patient, we flew her and a nurse to the city of Banjar Masing, located on the south coast of Borneo. But to get there, you gotta dodge the clouds!
Below is the landscape in this southern area; flat with meandering rivers. It is also much more settled, and actually reminds me somewhat of Central Java with all the rice fields in neat rows, cut into what once was all jungle.
Our elderly passenger is helped off the plane with the nurse.
A cool old boat that was at the dock we stopped at.
There is always something or someone interesting going by on these rivers. As soon as I got out of the plane and stood on the float, a couple fishermen floated by.

Getting his net ready to cast. Unfortunately my pic's of him casting were not that focused. It is amazing how hard it is not to get washed out pictures in the hours before & after mid-day. The sun is so high in the sky, either you under expose & can't see anyone's face, or you white out the scenery.
This guy here had good luck and was proud to show me what he caught near the shore. This fishes' head looks like it's on backwards.

Back at home at the floating base! This plane just recently turned 50 yrs old, and is the oldest plane flown by MAF around the world. Nonetheless, these Cessna 185's still do a great job here. In fact, a lot of what you see is probably not the original airplane, as so many parts & pieces get replaced over the years.

Next year this base is hoping to receive a Quest Kodiak on amphibious floats (Amphibious Floats: Floats on a plane that also have wheels so they can land on dry land as well as water...Just don't land on water with the can provide visual evidence of what happens when folks have tried to do so). I think the guys here are excited to see their base transition into flying a Kodiak , as it can carry a lot more, fly faster & fly further.

Okay, believe it or not, I have even more on Palangkaraya yet to come! More rivers & boats, and less airplanes.

August 12, 2013

Palangkaraya - Flying off of Rivers

One morning I had the privilege of tagging along with Pilot Sean Cannon on a medivac flight. We went up to a village north of Palangkaraya, picked up an elderly lady, and then flew her to the city of Banjar Masing on the southern coast of Borneo. But let's get to it, as there are many pictures to peruse!!
Here, quite a group of locals greeted the plane at the dock. Although a bit of a somber occasion (as someone was in need of medical attention), it didn't take much more than Sean, myself, an airplane, & a camera to give excuse for lightening the mood so-to-speak. Some of the women here were pretty funny and, shall we say, down right extroverted! Sean was nice enough to lend me his camera and I was able to shoot pictures of what was going on.
Since I was just along for the ride, and had Sean's camera, the hunters became the hunted as I turned the tables and took many pictures of the picture takers! Below are a select few...
Posing with the plane...
Posing with the Pilot...Even if he doesn't know it!
The coolest 5 year old on the dock...

Our patient was an elderly woman, and here they carry her onto the dock to load her into the airplane. I must say I was worried for a few moments as I thought there was a real chance she was going to get dropped in the water, thankfully she was not.  I can't say building codes in Canada would approve of the dock ramp. I think they would have gone for a slightly bigger board.

But hey, one thing you have to learn when living far from Canada, things that were dangerous back home aren't really dangerous here. Danger is relative, it is merely a state of mind. Hand rails and anti-slip tape on a dock ramp? No need, the board works fine. Safety shoes in a construction environment...What are those? I think "safety flip flops" would sell well here. Helmets on a motorcycle? Just for adults, kids can go helmet-less. Idaho doesn't even enforce that one. They have more 'freedom' south of the Canadian boarder to smash their heads however they want to.

Joking aside, people do pretty well here with what they have. I mean, MAF's ministry here would most likely not be needed here if this little village could afford a nice safe dock with proper height hand rails & anti-slip tape. If they had that, they probably would have access to a road worthy ambulance type vehicle that could drive they elderly woman on a half decent road to another bigger town with a small hospital. Of course, there is no ambulance, decent road, or small hospital near by. We are pretty blessed to be on the business end of blessing these people in this way. It still blows my mind to think of all the people and efforts needed for there to be a plane ready to fly in a location such as here. It really is by the provision of God that we are here at all, and we are so blessed that He would use us in this way.
People look on as she is loaded in the plane. This is a moment when you could really read the underlying seriousness of us being there. I'm sure a lot of the folks here are related to the elderly woman, and might not ever see here again alive.
Okay, I have too many pic's so I'm going to make a Part Deux free of charge. Well, not totally free, your internet & electricity costs money...Unless you're at work, in which case you better get back to working...& don't forget to sign your facebook out too.

Yes, I'm going on about nothing, but me thinks the Indonesian Karaoke I currently hear loud & clear in the back ground serenading my evening is affecting my good judgement. We have this quaint little restaurant karaoke type place up the hill from our house, and the sounds just bounce perfectly around our home to make it feel a whole lot closer than it really is...6pm to11pm.  The Karaoke was gone for the month of Ramadan (Holy month of fasting for Muslims) but now it is back with a vengeance! But hey, it's not really a big deal. Further more, Amy and I can now also recognize (by melody) some of "what's popular" in the Indonesian pop music scene:)

August 3, 2013

Palangkaraya (From the Phone No.6)

Last month I was able to travel to Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan with two other MAF guys. In Palangkaraya MAF has a 'float' base, in that their two Cessna 185 airplanes fly off the river. Not only that, their hangar floats too!
MAF Palangkaraya is Tarakan's sister base, as we are part of the same Kalimantan program. They have quite a neat set up here. Both the office & floating hangar are the product of some serious efforts from people in the previous years, and make MAF's ability to operate here much easier!
Below is the plane affectionately known as "Charlie Brown" (as the last two letters in it's registration are CB). It is float-less as one of it's floats was damaged fairly bad by a big ol' log that was hidden just below the water line in the river. Actually, it was the plane shown above "Charlie Delta" that hit the log, but they switched the floats from one plane to the other because Charlie Brown was getting an engine change. As yes, complicated like day time television!

In fact one of the main reasons we came to Palangkaraya was to get a lesson on fiberglass repair. A Rep from the company that makes the aircraft floats came to Palangkaraya just to help repair the float (that is, in the proper airplanes are a bit more involved that fixing an old canoe).
Below is evidence how hard we were working! Tim made sure we kept on task, he's a bit old school.
It is amazing that they don't damage floats more often here with the amount of debris that goes floating by the hangar everyday!
I am totally new to this area of Borneo, and here rivers are a big part of life. If you look on a map of Southern Borneo, you see numerous rivers meandering throughout vast areas of flat land. From the hangar, it is neat to just watch what might happens to go floating by!
 Below, Sir Isaac Rogers buzzes the hangar as he leaves for a day of flying.
 More to come on Palangkaraya!