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!!


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