Sunday, May 13, 2007


The rivers are overflowing and changing colour from the muddy brown of the lower levels to the black, clear brackish water flooding from the peaty soils in the forests. Floating houses, or rumah trapung, along the rivers rise with the tide and strain on the ropes anchoring them to the riverbanks. The stilt houses along the rivers are like islands with their canoes bobbing at the front door, and rickety bridges zigzagging to the nearest dry land. Forests flood and we can float through them to surprise birds and proboscis monkeys. As the rains culminate, and the dry season begins, the clouds scatter and the sun shines on this watery world, reflecting perfectly in the black water. Rains upriver still keep the levels high, as high as 15 feet or more above the dry season lows. With an easing of the rains, the river levels go down quickly and the floods rush away to the Java Sea or are absorbed into the sandy base of Kalimantan, once said to be the bottom of the ocean.

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