Monday, March 8, 2010
Banjarmasin - river explorations
Banjarmasin and Banjar Baru, side by side, are centres for the Province of South Kalimantan. Named the Venice of Kalimantan, Banjarmasin is built over the 2 deltas of the Barito and Matapura Rivers. A network of more than 60 canals criss cross the city, and are highways for river traffic and also give the venue for small farmers to sell their produce.
The floating market on the Barito in the early morning jostles with women dressed in their colourful sarongs and headscarves, carrying loads of garden produce, rattan baskets and sweet hot cake making. As the swft river pushes us all down river, intense bargaining is carried on among the gossiping, bartering and paddling.
Kalimantan means 'river of diamonds', and gems which are washed from the mountainous hinterland and lodged under the wide delta plains are mined at Matapura, a short distance from Banjarmasin.
Travelling further into the hinterland, a little known and vast marshy area is home to buffalo herders who keep their animals in stalls above the wet seasaon marshes. Daily, the buffaloes swim off to graze among the maze of canals. At dusk, the herder calmly poles through the area, calling his animals home.
This is another world from the bustling river market, irridescent and timeless.