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Dayak, gemstones and monkeys

Banjarmasin is an ideal starting point for excursions in the neighborhood. The most popular are those to the diamond mines of Cempaka, the gemstone center Martapura and the Lambung Mangkurat Museum, which can be visited during a stop. Furthermore it's very nice to bring a visit to the Dayak in Loksado and the orang-hutan center in the Tanjung Puting Reserve, but these trips will take several days.

The Diamondmines

The diamond fieldsa of Cempaka are located about 45 km from Banjarmasin, close to Danau Riam Kanan. Here, people dig five meters deep vertical shafts, along which they bring up clay. Stones and smaller grid are removed from the sticky clay, and the clay is washed. For hours, men and women are looking through the mudd and water for some luck, some goldflakes, saphire, amethyst, grenade or even a small diamond. Every once in a while a gigantic diamond is found, like in 1965 the 167,5 carat Trisakti diamond. Ten percent of the earnings is paid in rent to the landlord. The archives tell about the following important findings in Cempaka: in 1846 three diamonds of 12,0, 13,3 and 20,0 carat; in 1850 two big ones of 106,67 and 77,0 carat; in 1965, besides the Trisakti a 29,0 carat one; in 1970 a 13,0 carat gemstone and in 1987 three big stones of 14,0, 33,0 and 50,0 carat.
Who doesn't bother water and mudd can see the work from closeby and maybe even buy a rough diamont or other stone. The stones, named galuh, or lady, are processed in the village of Cempaka and the city of Martapura, not too far from the mines. A clear, one carat diamont costs about US$2750.

The Lambung Mangkurat Museum

A trip to the diamondfields is very nice in combination with a visit to the Lambung Mangkurat Museum in the city of Banjarbaru, near Martapura. The museum is dedicated to the history and culture of KalSel. People who are really interested can best rent an English speaking guide.
In the museum you can see a big number of bronze objects from the hinduist period. Too bad there are only copies, the real ones can only be found in Jakarta, like usually. There also is a model of the Candi Laras temple from the same time, and a big model of the wooden palace of the sultan. Futhermore there is some royal clothing, models of ships, fishing tools, a machine to make palmsugar, the royal gamelan, masks in Jawanese style and some other things.
Dayak art is also to be seen in the form of woodcarvings and several pieces which are related to the death-culture. The displayed dragon-heads, probably a remainder from the pre-islamic time, were used on marriages. In front of the main building is a tambangan, a nice canoo which once belonged to a ruler. In a separate building is a exhibition dedicated to Gusti Sholihin Hassan, locally known as the creator of semi-abstract portraits. The museum is located along the main road in Banjarbaru. The entrance fee is very low. Sometimes there are performances of traditional dances.

Dances and Marriages

KalSel known a big variety of dances. They are performed on important national holidays, during islamic rytes and to pleasure the visiting VIP's. The most known dances are the hadrah, a dance with Arab origine in which the bride is brought to the groom; the rudat, a dance with Persian origine, used in various islamic ceremonies; the Dayak gintor or welcome dance, a flowerdance; and the mumenggung, an elegant masked dance, which welcomes visitors to a play which is held after the harvest. The subjects op these mamada-plays (drama) are often taken from the Tales of Thousand-and-one-night, and mixed with Malay themes. In many other dancer Jawanese influences can be seen. Sometimes a wayang-play is performed as well.

Weddings are a complicated process. The family of the bride is offered a ritual bridal treasure, consisting of porcelain, golden rings and cash money (not too much). Most of the times the hadrah and rudat are performed, and the bride and groom are guided through the village by old dragon- or naga-heads, which are possessed by the village. The nagas are a remainder from the hinduist period. They are kept in a yellow fabric and are regularly brought sarcifices of flowers and eggs. Disobeying this will lead to illnesses. The naga-heads, which would come from the underwater principalty, bring luck to the newly wedded. Marriages often take place in the two months following Idul Titri Lebaran.

The Dayak of Loksado

The Dayak of South Kalimantan are not the most isolated of Borneo. Trips by boat and expeditions have brought lots of tourists to Loksado, where you can stay in a longhouse. After all, a visit to Loksado is recommended, but you have to take the time for it. The trip to Loksado starts in Kandangan, which is located north of Banjarmasin along the main road to Balikpapan and is reached in 4 to 5 hours by bus. On the way to, or on the way back, you can bring a visit to the center of handycrafts nerae Rantau.
There are several trails to Loksado. The shortest is an eight hour walk, the longest 24 hours, spread over several days. The best route, with much nature and wild animals, starts near Batu Ampar. In the dry season, cars with four wheel drive can sometimes reach Loksado. But this transport misses the bridges and the nice views. Above all the sound of the motor scares away the wild animals. KalSel has a rich diversity of wild animals with about 500 birds, 200 amfibious animals and reptiles and more than 700 kinds of freshwater fish.
The Bukit or Meratus Dayak still hold on to the kaharingan-tradition. After the harvest, at the end of July, they celebrate the Aruh Ganal to thank the spirits, a month later followed by the Aruh Biasa. During the wet season, when there are a lot of diseases, the woman healers, belian, hold rytes which can last upto several days. The Dayak practive their rituals not for tourists. Without a ritual, it's not worth while visiting a village.
The Loksado region houses more than 25 longhouses. The biggest is located in Melaris and is inhabited by 165 people. These balai are different than other longhouses in Borneo, they are branded by a communal veranda over the entire length and the sleeping rooms at the back. These balai are big, somewhat rectangle buildings, about 30 by 40 meters, with family rooms all over the building and a communcal room in the middle.
The tourist who doesn't speak Indonesian and has little experience with this kind of triops, can best go with an organized tour or hire an English speaking guide in Banjarmasin. A complete trip will cost you some money, but it's certainly worth while.
For a trekking you will need a sleeping bag, airbed, food, insect repellent, good shoes and sandals are needed. The weight should be low. You can carry your own stuff, or rent someone to do it for you. A stay in a longhouse is cheap, and often includes meals.
In Loksado you can spend the night in a simple bamboo pension for even less money. Warung serve simple meals. On Wednesdays there is a market and the Dayak from the hills will come to the village. Loksado's population is a mix of Malay and Dayak.
From Loksado it's only three kilometers to the more cool Melaris, where you also can spend the night. Close to the village is a bridge of ratten and bamboo and a fall.
The way back can be done on a bamboo raft, through the rapids of the Amandit River. With some luck you will zee giant lizards, sunbathing on the rocks along the riverbanks. Other animals along the river are some nosemonkeys, birds and others.
The rafts are used by farmers and rubber-tappers to bring their products to the market in Kandangan. There, the raft itself is also sold, because of the bamboo. The journey from Loksado to Kandangan takes about twelve hours, but travellers get of after the exciting rapids (between Lumpangi and Muara Hariang) in Muara Hariang, on a 45 minute walk from Mawangi. From Mawangi there is transport to Kandangan all the year.

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