Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Indonesians are obsessed with long noses. In most cases, people with long noses are thought as handsome or beautiful. Our next destination in Borneo is to see something that involves long noses: the Borneo’s proboscis monkeys, endemic to Borneo. On our leg of road trip in South Kalimantan, the place to watch them is at Pulau Kaget – it’s the island’s name and literally means Surprised Island.
Photo by Wira Nurmansyah.
Pulau Kaget is located at Barito River. To get there, we had to drive about an hour from Banjarmasin, the capital of South Kalimantan. It was a smooth ride with the SUV Daihatsu Terios and we arrived at Aluh-Aluh Besar Muara Village at about 9.30 a.m. – 1,5 hours late from the itinial plan. The sun was high and sweat dripping in my long-sleeved t-shirt. The head of the village, Pak Kursani, welcomed us and took us to the port where small wooden boats were ready to take us to Pulau Kaget. Little boys were bodysurfing around the port with their yellow bodyboards, though the water was calm. Bodyboarding is quite a rare sight on a river, I wonder where they got it from.
Rows of colorful stilt houses along the right and left river bank get smaller and smaller as we cruised away. The boat ride took about 40 minutes. The scenery was nothing special, the sky was pale, but we were excited to see the proboscis monkeys. Photo and video cameras were geared up approaching the island, ready to record any sight of the Borneo’s proboscis monkeys.
Rambai trees grew quite densely on the island. We were looking for the long noses on the tree branches, hesitant to hop on the land because it’s very muddy. Almost half an hour we waited on the boats by the island. I was probably the only one who couldn’t see any of these Borneo’s proboscis monkeys, while the others saw a glimpse, a silhouette, and some were lucky enough to see 2 or 3 monkeys and capture them in photos.
To be honest, I wasn’t curious to see the monkeys because I had seen them in Tanjung Puting a few years back, but I wanted to see them because I had woken up early, went through the heat and sticky air of the river, just to see them out here. So I decided to join some of the guys to hop on the island in the hope of seeing the Borneo’s proboscis monkeys up close.
Photo by Harris Maulana. My attempt to see the proboscis monkeys up close.
Many Indonesians have perhaps played in mud in their childhood, especially those living in rural areas. This was my first time, I think. Dude, it was hard! My legs got sucked in almost knee-deep and I almost fell a couple of times because of that. Not unlike the trekking at Karuing before, I was handed help by Mas Harris and Bobby. All that, and still no Borneo’s proboscis monkeys in sight. Our guide told us that they’re afraid of strangers, so they quickly went hiding further in the island, in the forest.
I wanted to wait longer but we were called back to the boats because we had to keep up with schedule. Aww, shucks! I guess a visit to see proboscis monkeys in Pulau Kaget needs to be more well planned, don’t you think?
*This trip is fully paid by Astra Daihatsu Motor in exchange of blog publication, but the opinions are my own.
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