Published: July 20th 2012July 15th 2012
A friend's daughter recently wrote an article about growing up in a small town. She pointed out that in a city or larger town how you treat someone may not matter as you may never see them again, but that in a small town you don't have that luxury and must learn to be nice to everyone. I'm glad we lived in a small town and learned that lesson.
The indigenous population of Kalimantan are the Dayak people. If you travel into the interior you can visit their villages and see more of the culture. We weren't sure we wanted to spend the limited time we had in Indonesia doing this, but had read about a village only 29 km from Samarinda, Pampang, that put on a show of traditional dance each Sunday at 2pm. It was supposed to be possible to get there on public transport and the guide book gave directions.
We left the hotel in plenty of time and jumped into a bemo to get to the bus stop for the village. The driver knew where we could get the bus and off we went. We were feeling confident as we were headed to the south
east of Samarinda and the guide book map showed Pampang that way. We were dropped off at a big bus which didn't seem like a yellow minibus we were expecting but were assured this was it. We got on and squashed into seats made for 2 along with 2 other people. This didn't seem fun or quite right and luckily we soon discovered this bus was for Balikpapan.
We quickly jumped off much to the amusement of the locals and another bemo driver stopped to take us. When he heard where we wanted to go he suggested we would have to charter a bemo and got another bemo for us. It was nice to have some space in the bemo for once especially as the journey was really long. It took an hour to get there, was completely the opposite direction from the map and the last 5kms were down a dirt track full of holes. We spotted several yellow minibuses at the village and were satisfied we would be able to get back.
The performance was held in the long house, which is the community building for the village. It reminded us of a Maori marae and
some of the patterns looked very like koru. We spent some time looking at local crafts displayed at the end of the longhouse and saw an old woman with her ears stretched. Her lobes came past her shoulders and were adorned with several gold rings in each ear. They looked very heavy and as if they would really annoy you swinging around, but we were fascinated and glad we got to see her.
We took our seats and were soon asked to pay a modest entrance fee. The lady sat in the seat in front of us turned around and translated what was being said. We struck up a conversation anddiscovered her father was helping organise the event. She also introduced us to her mother and told us that special guests from Bandung were expected and that was why they were there.
The show was not supposed to be a tourist show, but definitely seemed that way. We enjoyed it anyway and thought the whole experience was worthwhile, even if only to see the longhouse which was traditionally decorated. The villagers who took part seemed to enjoy themselves. One of the little boys was obviously learning the dances
and was so cute following the bigger boys around. The elders sat in traditional dress to watch the show. We guessed that the bigger the feathers in your hat the more important you were.
After the show we headed over to where the yellow minibuses had been. Of course now that we wanted one there were none in sight. The girls at the local shop told us to wait but were noncommittal about when one would come. So we sat in a shady area for what was beginning to look like a long wait and waited. Harriet wasn't pleased because the local dog, of which every Indonesian village has many, decided to wait with us and would periodically come near her, which made her nervous.
After about 15 minutes of waiting, the lady who had sat in front of us came and asked if we had a taxi booked and when she discovered we were waiting she offered us a ride with her. We were so grateful as it seemed we were not likely to get back any other way. We were a little shocked though when she pulled a chair for the back of her ute and
told us to climb up in the tray with 2 other guys. We rode in the back for about 20kms and were dropped off at the edge of the city where we could get a bemo easily. It was such a relief to get back and we definitely saved from a long wait by a friendly lady.
We got dropped off at the coffee shop to celebrate. Toby and Harriet finally got to taste pisang goreng - fried banana with chocolate and cheese - delicious! Surfing the net whilst we waited for our drinks Fiona found a conversation about seeing oranghutans and a phone number for the park ranger in Sangatta. We went back to the hotel, packed our bags and prepared for a trip up north to Kutai to see orangutan. As we werepacking the phone rang. Some how word had got around that foreigners were in town and a guide was calling to drum up business. Apparently this is normal in Samarinda, especially as the tourist numbers have dropped and the economic climate seems a little bleak. We brushed him off and then Toby called the ranger - the best call we could make.
There are more photos below