September 29 8 am
Here are some first photos of our walk in Kumai yesterday. We’ll probably wait until after Ramadan ends to take our trip to the Orang Utan Conservation Area. Apparently September 30th and October 1st are days of celebration that no one wants to miss. We took the dinghy to shore, ate a huge lunch of rice and fried everything else. One thing was a vegetable fritter and some tempeh and something that looked like a fried clam minus the stomach, just the long neck. Could have been who knows what really; intestines of some kind. The women working in the restaurant didn’t speak English. But I did eat enough fried food to last me a good long while, or until we go there again.
There are about 10 other Sail Indonesia boats here. Last night we had visitors from Single Malt. They had already done the Orang Utan trip and raved so we are really looking forward to it.
Tiny, but you get the idea. Our side of the river is tree lined and undeveloped. The water is brown and pretty dirty. We are being very conservative with our water because we can’t make water from the dirty river water as we can from the ocean water. If we run out we’ll have to buy some. We do have lots of bottled water, but that won’t work for dishes, showers, toilets, or laundry. We’ve never had to worry about water before. At marinas you get marina water and at the boat yard we filled up from the hose and not river water. But we will be here at least a week, not counting our time off to see the Orang Utan. We filled the tanks coming to Kumai and they hold 250 gallons of water.
I read about birds’ nest soup in Agnes Keith’s books about Borneo. Natives would climb very high cave walls to collect the nests the swifts had built. Swifts apparently have some special liquid they use to make the nests and that’s what makes it a delicacy. Someone in Kumai had the idea to build these huge buildings that mimic caves and thousands of swifts nest there. There are five or six of these buildings that I saw along the waterfront. The locals don’t like them because of the noise, bird droppings and fear of bird flu. But China pays big bucks for the nests. It’s too bad that the building have to be located where they are. We had several swifts visit our boat yesterday morning. My guess is that they feed in the forest across the river and then fly back to nest in the buildings. Some of the buildings have facades that resemble homes rather than industrial buildings. But the noise of the roosting birds could be annoying if the street noise ever stopped. It’s hard to see, but there are openings on the sides of the buildings, like you see in birdhouses. The birds come and go through the holes. It would be interesting to see the insides.
Something you won’t see at home; a motorcycle laden with pineapple.
Half the women wear traditional garb.
We saw several women with white paste on their faces. I guess it’s connected to Ramadan, but I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll ask if I find someone who speaks English well enough. My few words of Indonesian are just so limited.
Boat visitors. They came by to see the boat and Randal invited them aboard. We gave them some of the school notebooks we had bought to give to the kids, some fancy pencils I had bought, a jump rope Randal had bought for kids bandannas for all. After a nice visit of Mountain Dew, little cakes, and lots of photos they continued home. As I saw them off, the dad offered me a coconut. Maybe we’ll take it on our Orang Utan trip and let the cook use it for a meal. Hopefully his wife won’t kill him for coming home without the coconut she had sent him off to get.