Along the rivers of Kalimantan, huge areas are under water for much of the year, including of course during the wet season. Villages in these area will often have all of the houses and roads built up on tall pillars or stilts so that they can stand above the flood. It doesn’t always succeed, and we have seen inundated villages with people continuing to go about their daily business while standing in knee-deep waters throughout their homes.
This photo was taken on 2 May 2015, somewhere near the village of Muara Muntai on the Mahakam River, East Kalimantan. It was towards the end of long day during which we had travelled by canoe, coming back from a stay in Tanjung Isuy village. This boy had been stopped on his bike, talking to some of his friends who were diving and swimming in the flooded river. Then he saw us, and took off at speed along the decking that forms the ‘road’, showing off to us by riding ‘no hands’. It looked like a lot of fun.
This is another photo that’s jumped off the screen for me to print and frame. Indonesiaku Print #2 (2 May 2015).
After seven years without a functioning printer, we recently acquired one*. Since then I’ve been having fun: trawling through photos from our years in Indonesia (mostly Kalimantan), selecting, re-editing, printing and framing a small number of them.
Here’s the first one: Indonesiaku Print #1 (3 Jan 2017)
The tree in this photo is an Alstonia angustiloba, known locally as ‘Pulai’. It occurs naturally in Malaysia, and on the islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo. This very fine specimen stands about 40 metres tall, and is growing in the forest not far from the visitor centre at the Kebun Raya (Botanical Garden) Balikpapan (East Kalimantan). For two years I would walk by it almost every day on my solitary rambles. It became my favourite tree in the Kebun Raya, and yes … I would talk to it.
In 2019, approaching the end of my time there, I was asked what I’d like as a farewell gift. Of course I answered: “pohon pulai itu“! (That Pulai tree!). Unfazed, my colleagues readily agreed, but warned that it might take a little while to construct the box to ship it in. On my last day there was a little ceremony where I was asked to plant a new addition to the collection of the Balikpapan Botanical Garden. Surprise! it was a seedling Alstonia angustiloba. I’ll be delighted to return and watch it grow over the years to come.
* The printer is an Epson 8550, an ‘all-round printer’, but which can produce surprisingly good quality prints of photos up to A3+ size. With good quality paper (so far I’ve been using Epson’s Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster) and matching ICC colour profiles, the results are pretty impressive for a mid-range printer. It uses just five dye inks, plus a pigment ink for regular black. Best of all, the inks go into refillable tanks (rather than disposable ink cartridges), which makes for very much cheaper printing – and much less waste.