Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Flowers are usually identified as something pretty, sweet, and feminine. Like so many things – or individuals – that appear so, underneath lies strength that can actually overcome difficulties and survive in the wilderness. As the wild Borneo orchids.
Our next stop on the #Terios7Wonders road trip was to see the wild Borneo orchids in Kandangan, South Kalimantan. We aimed to see the black orchid in particular, which is said to be endemic to Borneo. It is unique because it has black labellum or the ‘tongue’. We were going to see the ones that grow in the wilderness of Maratus Mountain, on Gunung Batu Bini to be exact.
Our convoy of seven cars left Kaget Island at noon. After having lunch, we raced with time, trying to get to Kandangan before dark so we could still see the black orchids in the wild. The road was full of twists and turns and parts of it were pretty bad, with holes and dirt. Fortunately, we had an awesome squad of drivers, who could tackle the condition with aggressive maneuvers in relatively high speed. That’s when Cumi, a fellow blogger, really understood why he had to buckle up even in the back seat!
On our way to Kandangan
The 202 km distance was traveled in about five hours. It was already dark by then. We hurriedly got out of the cars, hoping we could still see a glimpse of the black orchids. We had to climb up the hill a little bit, and then a wooden ladder was provided to see the orchids really up close. Bobby and Wira had climbed up and reported to us down below that there were no black orchids. Darn! The guide, who was a local, told us it was just there yesterday! He guessed someone had just taken the particular wild Borneo orchids.
One or two wild Borneo orchids were up there, I just couldn’t see it. Can you?
Not a fan of climbing things, I decided to just stay down, because what’s the point? So I just looked at the few other kinds of wild Borneo orchids near where I was standing. But it was too dark to observe it and we were soon on the move again.
carefully climbed down after an attempt to see the wild Borneo orchid.
We drove to the village, where a citizen named Dedi Adriady grew so many kinds of orchid in his yard. He was very welcome and kindly explained to us about his orchid collection. There were about ten types of orchids in small pots, some natural and some hybrid.
“Some of these orchids are local and some are from lands with cooler climate, that’s where cultivation becomes tricky. When treated right, orchids can get up to more than then years,” Dedi explained.
Vanda, a genus in the orchid family
The one endemic to Kandangan is Dendrobium dianae. Dedi also has the black wild Borneo orchid, unfortunately it wasn’t in bloom on our visit. I’m not really a fan of flowers or any kind of plants, but I admire Dedi’s dedication (hey, dediception!) to cultivating orchids. He fluently answered our questions about orchid, such as how to protect them from pests, the effect of too much rain and dampness, and the Latin names for each type. He is the only person in the village, that he knew of, to cultivate orchids. To always improve his skill and add knowledge, he joined an online community of orchid lovers on Facebook.
Deforestation has been a hobgoblin in Borneo. Forests get burned – naturally or not – and as you may have seen on the news, smoke is haunting people and nature’s lives in Borneo. The less forest, the less chance for black orchids to survive. The more rare it becomes, the more expensive it’s valued, and the quicker people would just grab it from the wilderness.
This one is a pretty familiar type,
but thanks to people like Dedi, rare orchids could be saved from extinction.
Our mission to see the black orchid may have failed, but we were still up for more interesting destinations, if not adventures. The convoy continued in pitch dark to the next town: Amuntai. What are we going to do in Amuntai? Hint: it involved mud, again!
*This trip is fully paid by Astra Daihatsu Motor in exchange of blog publication, but the opinions are my own.
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