Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 3 March 2011 • Itinerary
We assumed there was less to do in Banjarmasin, that’s why we had planned to sight-see or do things around the city. How was Banjarmasin? You can see for yourself here. As for our outer city trips, Martapura and Loksado were two places that we found the most in all of our googling and LP-ing. Didn’t know quite well what we were expecting, except some surprises!
** dresscode **
Since Martapura was sort of a fringe destination in the series of Tanjung Puting National Park and Banjarmasin trip, I didn’t do much research before going. I wanted it to surprise me. But one thing I’m glad I found out beforehand was that it’s a some kind of a “kota santri” (a term that means a city or an area whose citizen are mostly dedicated and very religious – if not fanatic – Moslems). So I was prepared with covered-up outfits, didn’t wanna offend these people with my shorts and tank tops (specially since I’m also Indonesian, I’m expected to be more covered up than foreign female tourists). Even so, my floral top and big sunglasses plus Teddy’s obvious oriental look kinda screamed for attention. Luckily we didn’t really have a problem being elephants in the room, thanks to our sanguine side.. tee hee..
I was told that I could buy gem stones and jewelry in Cahaya Shop-centre (Pertokoan Cahaya), next to the terminal. I didn’t dream of buying anything with the budget I had in my pocket, but since everyone mentioned it every time I said Martapura, made me want to see what they were talking about.
There were lots of shops selling similar items, from gem stones to local print sarongs, and other souvenirs like the Dayak boat miniatures and snack such as dried shrimps. There were some affordable pieces of jewel, I thought maybe I could get one for my mom. But after looking more closely, I didn’t find anything unique. And also what turned me off was when Teddy showed me some of those jewels had “made in China” sign on them. Okay, just forget it.
The thing is, I don’t know a thing about jewelry nor gem stones. So I can’t really tell the fakes from the original. It could be that the gems are originally from Martapura and then designed and crafted in China.. (trying to think positively here). But I’m sure there are original ones, it’s just that they must’ve been out of my budget, so I didn’t even bother to ask 😛
– Al Karomah Mosque
You know what a mosque is, right? This one is simply for praying, not a tourism site whatsoever. But I just wanted to point out that this is the biggest mosque in Martapura, and if I’m not mistaken it’s also the biggest mosque in South Kalimantan. It makes sense, since this town’s got a strong Islamic atmosphere.
I mean, although I’ve lived in Indonesia almost all my life, a country whose citizen are mostly Moslems, never have I seen so many guys in sarong and white shirt and kopiah (the outfit mostly worn by ‘santri’ and general Moslem guys to pray especially in the mosques) biking around town. It was pretty awesome, and definitely something different even for me.
– Cempaka Gem Mine
The gem mine in the outskirt of Martapura is actually now an official tourism site. I find that quite weird. But I was curious to see what it’s like. Hm, maybe that kind of curiosity that made it a tourism site eventually. So Teddy and I took a 30 minutes ride with an angkot..err.. taxi (I’m still not used to saying taxi for angkot) from the terminal to the mine. It was the MTP-Cempaka route (MTP stands for Martapura). You should tell the driver that you’re going to the mine so that he knows where to drop you off. Cos this route goes on to the Cempaka terminal, which I myself have no idea how far it is from the mine, really.
Then it was more or less 1 km walk to the mine. Probably less. I thought it was interesting, or rather strange, that the locals were looking at us kinda funny. I thought, if it was a tourism site, they should’ve been used to strangers. Hm, maybe it’s because we were walking instead of going by a car. Or.. well, I’m not sure how often tourists do come here. Anyway, it was funny when a local talked in something that sounded Japanese (but we know he was just impersonating) to Teddy, thinking he’s Japanese. And when we looked to see who was talking, turns out this man was squatting in a toilet with no roof..! hahaha.. that’s nice, making friends wherever and whatever you are doing!
The mine itself was hot! I mean, literally, it was sunny and hot. After passing by the locals’ houses, we were exposed to this vast land with huge holes, looong pipes, wooden machine installations (I don’t even know what they’re called), and working men.
A man was walking with us from the village. He acted all friendly but obviously all he wanted to do was sell us some stones. Too bad for him, we weren’t there for shopping. But I finally bought a few out of gratitude because he did take us around the mine and explained some stuff like a semi-guide would.
So, according to this man, this traditional mine doesn’t make much anymore. There’s another mine not so far from this Pumpung Village that’s much more modern and owned by foreigners, with their big and sophisticated machines n’ all.
In this traditional mine, you can see some spots which are worked on by a group of workers, and some are one-man show spots. Seeing all this, I couldn’t help but thinking.. wow, things you do for living and to support your family. I mean, this kind of mine is more risky for the workers. Some have been buried to death by the dirt and stones that slid down and the men didn’t have time to hike up and run. It was sad thinking about it 🙁 And yet, they were – seemingly – working so diligently, they just gained my respect 🙂
Nevertheless, I had laughs interacting with the workers. I guess the presence of a girl in the mine (especially a stranger) sort of entertained them. And they let me try the sifting, looking for a bling bling. It was amazing how trained their eyes were, they could tell which is a gem stone, that was the size of needle hole, among the regular stones. Dude, I’m really bad at geology terms, aren’t I? 😛
– Bamboo rafting
This is the most popular activity in Loksado. It costs IDR 250,000 / ride / raft. Teddy and I arrived in Loksado at 3ish PM. We could only choose the bamboo rafting or going to the waterfall before it got dark. Well, bamboo rafting sounded more attractive, but we agreed not to spend that much money. It would’ve been great if we had more people to split the cost. I guess that left me a reason to come back to Loksado next time, with more dough in my pocket, or more entourage. * grin * Mumun butting in: I smell a challenge here!
– Meratus Waterfall
To get to the waterfall, we had to go by ojek. The ride back and forth would cost us IDR 50,000 / ojek. We tried to haggle but failed, it was a fix price. And I asked if we could just walk up there and back. Ms. Salasiah , the lady who ran the lodge, said we could walk if we wanted to, if we had 2 hours! Hahaha.. alrighty, with the ojeks, we took off!
The way to the waterfall was crazily bumpy! I don’t recommend you to ride a motorbike on your own unless you’re a motocross champion. I had to hold on to the bike tightly! (didn’t really feel like hugging the ojeg rider). And after 30 minutes, we arrived.. in the “parking lot”. We still had to continue by walking, passing a hanging bridge over a river and stony path.
It’s always nice to walk towards a waterfall, hearing the splashing water from the distance and getting clearer as we’re getting nearer, until ..voila..! There it was.. the waterfall! I would guess it’s about 7 meters high. Not too high, not too big, but certainly a nice spot to just sit and relax on the big rocks across the falling water.
One of our ojek riders, a deaf and mute guy, guided us to the waterfall while the other one waited by the motorbikes. He showed us how to go up the big rocks, but I couldn’t follow him all the way, I chickened out. I was afraid to slip and the current was pretty scary. This dude (sorry I forgot his name) and I then moved to another rock right across the waterfall (while Teddy enjoyed his peaceful moment on his spot). I got out of there soaking wet from the splash. The water was sooo cold and freaking fresh!
Our way back down was a bit more of a hassle. We took the same path, but one of our motorbikes had a flat tire. So I ended up sandwiched between the rider and Teddy on the healthy ojek, and the other ojek guy with his motorbike continued the ride more carefully. (Mumun wants me to comment more about this, but I’m not gonna! Mhuahahaa..) It was tiring and a little embarrassing when passing by the locals on a field playing soccer, but it was also funny at the same time 😀
– Tanuhi hot water spring
We read about this hot water spring in Lonely Planet guide book. Our ojeg riders offered to wait for us outside of the ‘park’ before continuing to the Wisma Loksado (the famous lodge). Maybe we didn’t give it enough benefit of the doubt, but looking at it from outside just didn’t intrigue us to even take a look what they’ve really got to offer. It was those tacky colorful pools that turned us off (sort of reminded me of the Curug Luhur pools. So, even though the entrance fee was only IDR 3,000 / person, we decided to just skip it and went on with our ride. When the heart says no, then no it is.
– the market behind Pertokoan Cahaya and at the terminal
Strolling around the market and shop centre didn’t take us long, perhaps only 15 minutes. At the back of the shops were warungs that served big meals, snacks, and various juices. The big shrimps on the display were really tempting, but I wasn’t so sure about the hygiene with all the food displayed on open racks. So we decided to eat somewhere else. Nevertheless, we couldn’t help ourselves from ordering a portion of es campur (mixed ice), since it was a very hot day. Slurp!
– Abah Suny
A guy at the gift shop told us that there’s a seafood restaurant near the Cempaka gem mine. But we needed 30 minutes to get there, while I was already hungry at that time, and there’s no stopping me from having my meal when hunger strikes. Move away, this girl needs her nutrition!
So we went to another diner which he also recommended, lwarung Abah Suny across the terminal. They served lotsa kinds of food, but not them big scrumptious-looking shrimps unfortunately. Oh well. I settled for duck+rice and Teddy was happy with his rice + ‘pepes patin’ (fish wrapped in a banana leaf and roasted).
Eating with Teddy was like being watched by a ‘don’t throw away food there’s hunger in the other side of the world’ police. He’d be yapping at me if I didn’t finish my food even though I was already full. And most of the time I didn’t finish because the portions given were often too much for my standard. The diner definitely thought I was a miner, being so small but eating so much 😀
KANDANGAN (On our way to Loksado)
– Ketupat Kandangan at Warung Adil
Yay, the original ketupat kandangan! By original I mean it is named after the town’s name. We had it for lunch at a warung in the Kandangan’s angkot terminal just when we got there and found that we missed the angkot to Loksado.
As for the taste, I found it quite similar with the one I had in Banjarmasin. Yummy to my tonguey and in my tummy. * Burp! * Oops, sorry.
The meal that we had in Loksado was regular Indonesian home cooking by the locals who opened a diner near the lodge. There were 2 diners of choice and we picked one randomly. The food was greatly affordable, but.. I forgot how much a portion.
– Wisma Loksado
We meant to stay at Wisma Loksado and checked the room out before deciding to really take it. Hmm.. actually the place wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t appeal to us. The building had no character, just plain ol’ cement and squarish building. It costs IDR 220,000 / night / room.
Hmm.. let’s check out another option across the river, Losmen Aliya.
– Losmen Aliya
Now we’re talkin’! A wooden little house with 4 rooms upstairs, a room downstairs, a clean modern Indonesian bathroom (meaning with shower and a squatting toilet) and a living room equipped with a TV downstairs.
It’s got a back door that goes right to the river, and upstairs there’s a balcony in the back and in the front. I loved the moment when I just sat out there in the back balcony after coming back from the waterfall, waiting for the night to fall.. * cough * You could see children playing in the river, cannon balling from the broken bridge, and rafting on bamboos. At night, I fell asleep in the sound of the river’s water splashing trickling. Talk about sleeping like a baby..
For both of these lodges we contacted one of these numbers in advance for info and booking:
6281348943728 / 6281351867271 / 6281351915880
Get to Pal 6 terminal and hop on the orange Colt car (in most cities this kind of public trasportation would be called ‘angkot’ or the brand itself, but here in Banjarmasin they call it ‘taxi’). How to tell which orange Colt goes to Martapura? Either you find one under a sign that says “Martapura” or ask around. The ride was an hour long and ended at a terminal next to Martapura’s Pasar Batuah market (guess what, it literally means “market with magic power”).
Fare: IDR 9,000 / pax.
The way back from Martapura to Banjarmasin, we could take the same Colt from the terminal. Instead, after a visit to the Cempaka gem mine, we were advised by a local to take the white Colt (or was it Elf, I forgot, they’re similar) at Simpang Empat (simply means Crossroad).
Fare: IDR 7,500 / pax.
This Colt actually has a longer route, that is Banjarmasin-Kandangan-Banjarmasin. So the Martapura – Banjarmasin is cheaper because it’s only about 1/3 of the whole route. Unfortunately it didn’t take us to Pal 6 terminal in Banjarmasin, so we had to figure out what other ‘taxi’ to get us to the hotel.
Loksado is 4 hours away from Banjarmasin. The cheapest way to get there, other than hitch hiking or borrowing a friend’s car, would be to take the white Colt at Pal 6 terminal to Kandangan town (a 3 hours ride) and then continue with a pickup car (functions as angkot / taxi) for an hour to Loksado. Problem is, you gotta catch this pickup angkot before noon. After that, it’s gone. And that’s just what happened to us…Darn!
The morning before leaving to Loksado we were on the Kuin floating market tour. We didn’t waste no time and hurriedly went to Pal 6 terminal. We got in the Colt at 9ish AM, but the driver waited for more passengers to hop in, and so he started the car at almost 10 AM. And he was no racer.
At 1.30 PM we arrived at Kandangan only to find that the Kandangan-Loksado pickup was already gone. Well, obviously. Our only hope was to take the ojek, one for each.
The ojek ride took an hour long, through a winding asphalt road cutting throught the forest and mountains. It was a great ride with all those greeneries in sight, however long and butt-flattening it was.. hahaha. But the air was fresh and sometimes I can see mountains in the distance, making beautiful compositions if they were to be photographed. Too bad I didn’t get a lot of good photos cos the ojek went quite fast and sometimes it was too late to stop. It’s photographed perfectly in my head, though. * apologetic wide grin *
The next day (yup, all the fuss for only a night stay) we didn’t wanna miss the pickup to Kandangan from Loksado. And guess what.. it leaves at 7 AM each day! But we had to take it, another option would be IDR 600,000 for a car hire to Banjarmasin. Whew!
And then from Kandangan we took the white Colt to Banjarmasin just like the one we took the other way around on the previous day. Does all this seem a bit too complicated? Well okay, I’ll summarize it for ya:
Going to Loksado:
White Colt Banjarmasin – Kandangan = IDR 35,000 / pax
Ojek Kandangan – Loksado = IDR 50,000 / pax
Back to Banjarmasin:
Green pickup angkot Loksado Kandangan = IDR 15,000 / pax
White Colt Kandangan – Banjarmasin = IDR 35,000 / pax