02 October 2010 | Kumai, Kalimantan
We arrived in Kumai, Kalimantan after a slow three day trip across the Java Sea with little or no wind to speak about, so the motor got a solid workout. Kumai is situated 10nm up a wide river (Kumai River)and is a working port. So we are anchored close by to some large ships. The current here is particularly strong over 2 knots due to the amount of water running downriver and the tidal effect. Being two degrees south of the equator it is very humid and hot, so most afternoons we get a downpour of rain, which is a good opportunity for many boats to fill their water tanks. On Thursday we took a day trip up a tributary of the main river to visit the Tanjung Puting National Park where Orangatans literally hang out! We travelled by speed boat with another rally couple and had a very informative guide on board who spoke good English and was an expert at spotting various wildlife in the jungle growth which lined the river. During the day, we were taken to two feeding stations (morning and afternoon) where the rangers bring out bagfuls of bananas and place them on a raised platform to encourage the oranagatans out to eat. These animals are very strong and show incredible dexterity as they swing through the tree tops. It was amazing to see them scaling up a tree with a large handful of bananas in one hand,extra ones in their mouth and the other hand tethering them to the trunk. Many of the orangatans in the National Park have been rescued from captivity and released back into the park. They are often captured as babies by the locals and kept as pets, but become a problem to handle as they grow larger. In between watching the orangatans feed, we wandered through the forest for over an hour with our guide Andy providing explanations of the various plants - we saw many pitcher plants which are carnivorous and watched as a preying mantis almost became dinner for one of them. We were thrilled when we realised a mother orangatan carrying a small baby and a toddler in tow, were following behind us, as we walked. We then spent quite some time interacting with them and feeding them a few bananas. They are very observant and knowing animals and carefully watch your hands and backpacks to see if there is to be any food forthcoming! As we travelled back home to our boat, we spotted many Probiscus monkeys which are only found in the jungles of Kalimanatan plus some more orangatans and the Hornbill bird which is referred to by the locals as the hippo bird due to the shape of its beak which is similar to a hippos large mouth! Kumai town is quite basic but has a traditional market, many little stores all selling the same products and some very decorative mosques. We bought half a kilo of fresh prawns this morning for the equivalent of $2 Australian!! The town has many tall apartment-style buildings which from afar look like office buildings with very small windows. As you arrived in the town the sounds of twittering birds was very pronounced. The reason for this being that these buildings are for swallows to fly in and build their nests. The swallows use only their own saliva to construct the nests- nothing else. These nests often containing small eggs which are then more valuable, are retrieved and exported to China for their famous (very authentic) Birds Nest soup!! It is a thriving industry here and worth a lot of money to the local economy. Apparently it is much more lucrative than a hotel of the same size. From Kumai we will head about 250nm west to Belitung, which is the last rally stopover and where we exit Indonesia around the 15th October.