The Karimata Archipelago, located 100 Km West from Kalimantan, was for a week our home.
Part of Kayong Utara region, the islands are an unknown paradise for tourists, even for many indonesians.
We had the chance to be part of a team of tourists (bule) to explore some of these islands with the purpose of developing sustainable and non-invasive tourism.
What does this mean? Buildings and everything in the tourist area are part of the nature, maintaining cultural integrity, fauna and flora should be a priority against those who want to make money quickly without worrying about what’s left behind.
Our role was to take pictures, to come up with suggestions about what a tourist would need to feel comfortable, which areas would have potential and what should be improved in order to become a tourist attraction.
The first stop was in Pelapis Island and the village with the same name. Being the closest to the main island, it is also the most developed. The new governor of the region – Citra Duani, who wants to transform the area into a tourist attraction – was the first time there, a chance for us and the team to make few jokes about the picture of the former governor who was still on the wall, the locals ashamed were trying to hide it as quick as they could. After a fried fish, fried rice and … fried noodles, we start exploring the island.
The traditional way of making a boat out of a trunk. One week to complete it.
We spent the night in a traditional house sleeping on the floor next to the team at the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Young people passionate about their work and wanting to make a difference for the Kayong Utara region. They organized the rest of our trip, under the supervision of Eko – who formed the team, Pak Citra Duani commissioning him to organize and find foreigners because he is an experienced traveler.
Fishing at night, threatened by the storm.
The kids are commuting … over water
Making the tea in the traditional way
We have spent the next few days in Betok village, a starting point for our next trips, every day in different corners of the archipelago. This village was special for us thanks to friendly, curious and open-minded people. They were eager to see how we behave, how and what we ate, how we dressed.
We started the day at school with morning exercises and the children who were very shy.
Our daily food consisted of rice, rice and rice … rice with fish, fish and fish. Every day! 3 times per day! The rice was cooked in various ways, including a soup with some kind of rice dumplings, fried rice, boiled rice, lontong (sticky rice boiled in banana leaves and then cut into pieces), rice mixed with noodles, rice with fish. Everybody was dreaming of the first meal when we will get to the main island. A salad, eggplants or anything other than rice and noodles.
Rice, spicy fish, calamari and fried fish with peanuts
Banana leaves in which the rice is placed for lontong. Boiled for several hours.
The places we visited are Bidadari waterfall (meaning “angel”), the fishing villages of Bulu, Kelumpang, Kepayang and Biang.
Our “guide” was a bit bored with us, he was opening the path for us through the jungle with the machete
The locals were saying there was sand up there, from where the waterfall was flowing, a sign that the ocean had reached here, probably before the island formed, who knows … hundreds or thousands of years ago
Many islands are inhabited only during the fishing season, others permanently. Bulu Island was still deserted because the fishing season was off, and people were back to their families
What really impressed us was the diversity of local faces. Even in the same village, there were children who seemed to come from different countries or at least other islands. The locals told us that many came from the Island of Belitung, which is located somewhere Southwest of Karimata, to Java and Sumatra direction.
There would be so much more to say about our experience, but I let you imagine the story through the pictures
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