Borneo as a Choice of Ecotourism and Historical Tourism Destinations

One of the corners of the natural appearance in Kalimantan. credit : Vermy

Bali, which is known as the "island of the gods", is very famous as a world tourist destination.

However, not much is known about Kalimantan, or Varuna-dwipa in the era of Hindu-Indian influence, and Borneo in colonial times.

Kalimantan, which is no less enchanted by its nature, people and culture. Why is that? This is because of the beauty, power, and exoticism which are the advantages and uniqueness of Kalimantan; not much exposure yet.

In an effort to introduce the uniqueness and richness of Kalimantan, especially its excellence in the field of ecotourism, the news and information portal you are reading exists and is managed by people who are not only interested in the field of ecotourism, but also have expertise and skills in research, writing and publication.

Why is it that at this time Kalimantan, the third largest island in the world, has become a world tourist destination? 

Why do foreign tourists, especially from the European and American continents, like and increasingly make an island called Varuna-dvipa during the Hindu-Indian era and named Borneo during the colonial era as a tourist destination? Where is the interesting and exotic?

In fact, Kalimantan is not only superior in the field of ecotourism but also in terms of cultural customs, inherited from ancestors for generations. There are 3 main ethnicities in Kalimantan, the largest and recognized as indigenous people is the Dayak ethnicity. The Dayak population throughout Kalimantan is not less than 8 million people.

Appearance of Dayak settlements in Long Bawan, Kalimantan Highlands.

Apart from the Dayaks, there are also ethnic Chinese and Malays. Their population is in big cities. Especially the Chinese, they are concentrated in Singkawang, West Kalimantan, which has one of the advantages in the field of arts and culture and building temples (toapekong) like the Tjia House in Singkawang.

The unique thing in Singkawang is that even though the majority of the population is ethnic Chinese (47%), a traditional Dayak house was built in the middle of the city. This is a form of respect for the native people of Borneo, as well as showing that the ethnic Chinese in West Kalimantan apply the well-known proverb in the archipelago, "Where the earth is stepped, there the sky is held up".

How the first landing of the Chinese from China arrived in Singkawang, will be discussed in a separate narration later. To commemorate China's first Landing in West Kalimantan, a monument was built in Pemangkat, a coastal city by the sea of ​​South China. This, among other things, makes Kalimantan apart from being a natural tourist attraction, it also offers an abundance of historical tourist objects.

During the period of Hindu-Indian influence in the Archipelago (the area that later became Indonesia after independence in 1945), Kalimantan was called Varuna-Dvipa because of the many rivers that flowed in this archipelago.

At a time when Europeans traveled a lot and made expeditions to Varuna-Dvipa , this island was known as Borneo. Suspected of the words "born" and "neo" namely rebirth or an island that was found full of wealth as well as charm.

Borneo is the third largest island in the world with an area of ​​743,330 km². It was recorded that there was Karl Helbig, there was Muller and there was also a very phenomenal one and then the results of his exploration became a manual for researchers namely Dr. Anton Nieuwenhuis (1894) who is known as the main explorer of Borneo who has no equal.

The interesting thing is that Nieuwenhuis wrote a very interesting book entitled In Centraal Borneo which describes his adventure for the first time to cross the border between West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan on July 14, 1894.

The expedition was made possible by the help of Maatshappij ter beordering van het natuurkunding onderzoek der Nederlansche Kolonien which was organized by the resident of Wester-Afdeling van Borneo, S.W. Tromp so that Nieuwenhuis who works at the Buitenzorg Botanical Garden (Bogor) can carry out an expedition across Borneo presenting the results of his expedition, especially regarding the wealth of botany which until now has no equal.

What really interests European and western explorers in general is that Kalimantan has a very exotic natural charm, starting from the flora and fauna, the natural beauty, the mystery of the rivers, and besides that, the medicinal plants that are missing with it.

I don't think we need promotion. Enough to quote the words that became the testimony of a European tourist who had set foot on Borneo. He said, "Borneo was created by God smiling."

Besides that, Borneo also has a number of tourist destinations, namely in addition to natural tourism in the form of historical tourism which is in the Miri, Sarawak cave. It is known that  Gua Niah (Niah Cave) was the first place to live and live for the native inhabitants of the earth of Borneo. It was discovered after the C-5 carbon test that the original humans of the island of Borneo already existed and lived in the cave about 40,000 years ago.

This shows that the Indigenous Peoples title is true, namely the Dayak people. This also shows us and the world how Borneo is an island full of mysteries besides being full of charm. Several historical tourist destinations apart from the Niah Cave are also in Krayan, North Kalimantan where at this time you can find old grave stones, jars, ceramic pieces, and also some artifacts left over from farming and farming tools. 

In ancient times found in the Long Padi area, namely axes, pickaxes, and also other agricultural implements such as yae in the local language made of stone.

He said, "Borneo was created by God smiling."

Really because of that Kalimantan is called a piece of paradise that falls to earth. In addition to the historical destinations where through sites one can find evidence of the existence and origins of the people of Kalimantan, there are also many and countless interesting ecotourism places in Kalimantan, for example, in a crayon there is a source of salt on the mountain.

Kryan Ring Road, through the heart of Borneo. Until now, the forest is still virgin and sustainable.

This shows that it is not true that salt only exists in the sea, in Kalimantan, salt is found in the mountains. This is very unique especially it opens our eyes to us that Borneo really contains extraordinary wealth. Apart from that, there are also volcanic remains found in Sanggau, a hot spring tourist spot which is exactly located in the Jangkang sub-district, Sanggau Regency, West Kalimantan.

Not only that, the uniqueness of nature and the earth of North Kalimantan. Another uniqueness is that in the Borneo Highlands, which is often referred to as "The heart of Borneo" there is a unique river, namely the Krayan River.

Perhaps the only Dayak tribe in Kalimantan, namely Lun Dayeh, has a river culture. They are a unique Dayak ethnic group, apart from having a river culture, they are also familiar with stone culture. Many remains in the form of stone jars, old graves in stone caves, agricultural tools and kitchen utensils made of stone. It is suggested that the stone culture in Krayan is the same age as Niah because it is not far from Niah, which is only about 25 kilometers.

If you are interested in ecotourism as well as historical tours of Dayak Lun Dayeh in Krayan, North Kalimantan, you can first fly by plane to Balikpapan or Tarakan. Then take a smaller plane to Krayan with a mission aircraft from America MAF or Susy Air.

People say that Borneo is the oldest island, where the rocks are very hard and contain no flint. However, it turned out that the remains of a kind of volcano were found where there was hot water boiling and evaporating.

There are many exotic trees that thrive in Kalimantan, including the tapang tree in the local language or in Latin "Kompassia exelcia". This tall and big tree besides being sturdy and strong also has lots of honey bee hives on its branches. One branch can contain up to 30 beehives, in such a way that Kalimantan is also known as a producer of native forest honey which is sought after by many people.

Something that might not be found if you visit other places. In Kalimantan, if notified in advance, foreign guests will be specially welcomed with traditional dances and necklaces with typical Dayak beads and wear clothes made of bark which are named: Baju Talun.

Foreign guests, or special guests are welcome in Kalimantan with Dayak cultural customs.

We can also find other beauty such as natural charm where there is an equator above the city of Pontianak. So there was built a monument to the equator as a physical warning sign. This monument was built to commemorate how Pontianak is crossed by an imaginary line of the equator where in a certain month of September there is an equinox where our shadow is parallel to the sun so there are no shadows at that time.

The first time the Equator Monument was built in 1928. Its shape is still simple, namely only a pile of pillars and arrows. In 1930 the monument building was added. So much so, that it is in the shape of a pillar, with circles and arrows.

In 1938 the repair of the monument was carried out again by the Officer Archiech Silaban. The shape and size of the buildings changed.

Enchantment of the Equator Monument in Siantan, Pontianak and Rumah Radakng, typical architecture of the Dayak people. Borneo Travel

It consists of four poles of ironwood (belian), each 0.30 meters. While the height of the front pillars there are two sticks with a height of 3.05 meters from the ground. While the back pillar in place of circles and arrows as a direction is 4.40 meters high.

In Pontianak it is also interesting to visit the traditional and cultural house of the Dayak tribe, which is called "Radakng House". Built during Cornelis' was the Governor of West Kalimantan (2008-2018), this traditional cultural house is national as well as an attractive tourist visit destination. There was found a statue of a hornbill or ruai (hornbill) which symbolizes might as well as the height of the minds and moods of the Dayak people.  It is a symbol of excellence above mere physical boundaries.

The beauty and magic of the Cathedral Church, Pontianak. Borneo Travel.

This traditional house of Dayak culture in Pontianak is a place for various cultural meetings, discussions, where even the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, met with the Dayak youths; year 2023 in this radakng (long house).

Apart from that, a tourist destination in Pontianak, West Kalimantan that is no less interesting is the Cathedral Church of St. Yosef which was built in the middle of the city center on Jalan Pattimura. Gothic architectural style, this catholic church can accommodate more than 1,500 people who take part in Catholic worship ceremonies such as the celebration of Mass and the ordination of priests or bishops.

Apart from the cathedral, the Mujahidin Grand Mosque is also a spiritual tourist attraction that holds charm in Kalimantan. Not only certain people, but other people and anyone who can enjoy a tourist visit here.

Another interesting thing is that Kalimantan has an advantage in the field of very rare animals, for example there is a "Dutch macaque" with a sharp nose which is often called "trunk" whose sound is really interesting and really shakes our hearts.

Apart from fauna, there are also many flora in Kalimantan. For example forest orchids, ground orchids, sengkubak which is called “Dayak natural vetsin”, pasak bumi (euricoma longifolia), rare fish such as arwana (scleropages formosus) and  semah fish (neolissochilus hexagonolepis).

One of the cultural customs among the Dayak tribes in Kalimantan is its distinctive ceremonies and rituals. They do adhere to modern religions, but do not abandon their ancestral cultural traditions. According to observers of cultural customs in West Kalimantan, Pro. William Chang, the Dayak people are not occult, or syncretism, but they do inculturation.

Dayak cultural customs are unique. Not only in terms of the shape of their houses, namely long houses, some of which are still inhabited, but also in terms of this inculturation which is not found on other islands and ethnic groups in Indonesia.

There are many longhouses, especially in West Kalimantan, which are still inhabited today, one of which is a longhouse Sungai Utik, Kapuas Hulu. The magnetism and magic of this long house is felt. Therefore, plan your travel destinations here!

Even so, as a foreign tourist visiting Kalimantan as one of the few tropical forests and ecotourism in Indonesia, you need to know that there are things you shouldn't do. One of them is related to local cultural customs or customs.

What is exotic in Kalimantan is that most of the food and drinks are organic. Water sources that flow from rocky hills and mountains that have not been touched by mines and plantations, provide added value to our health and fitness.

Especially for those of you who like healthy food without preservatives and chemical seasonings, Kalimantan is the place. Residents have natural spices, such as sengkubak as a substitute for MSG, Krayan mountain salt, and most food is cooked boiled or from young bamboo. Especially if at Krayan, you are served "Adan rice" which is grown organically. It is so delicious, this rice is also known as the food of the "sultans". There are fresh water fish such as fish, which are very delicious because they live in running water with lots of plankton.

Besides being organic, Dayak cuisine has a unique way of serving it.

Organic Kalimantan cuisine: adan rice, flowing river fish, and vegetables from the forest.

However, for those of you who are adventuring and visiting Kalimantan for the first time, it's good to know this. There are customs or traditions that cannot be violated.

The beauty and magical charm of Borneo is not only ecotourism and its long history. Not many people know that in Kalimantan there are small islands, for example Maratua. Maratua is in the Derawan Archipelago cluster of Berau Regency, one of the outermost islands in East Kalimantan which borders the Southern Philippines and Sabah, East Malaysia.

When the author visited there on a long vacation last month, he encountered many foreign tourists from Europe and America here. The sea water is clear, you can see lots of fish swimming, and Maratua can connect visitors to other small, exotic islands.

The charm of the beach and lake above sea level in Kakaban, Maratua.

In the past, many people, especially foreign tourists, felt worried or afraid to travel or travel to Kalimantan. This is partly because Kalimantan and its inhabitants (Dayaks) are framed by anthropologists and western writers as a "terra incognita" whose inhabitants still behead people and are still primitive. However, the reality is not as described. Dayak is a native of Borneo who is kind, warm-hearted, and cheerful; as described by Jenkins (1978).

At this time, the Dayak people were educated, superior, many graduates from abroad, and became rulers in their lands. They grow and develop in changing times, but they don't dissolve in them. Dayak people are adaptive and good at managing natural resources because they are part of nature itself. When nature is destroyed, the Dayak people are destroyed, this is their philosophy, why is Kalimantan where the Dayak people live in the forest and live maintained and sustainable.

In short, Borneo is a piece of paradise that fell to earth. Therefore, there is one big drawback if you have never been here.

What is really encouraging is that lately there have been many movements from below to maintain the authenticity of Borneo's nature complete with its rich natural resources, including flora and fauna. One of these popular movements is in Sekadau, West Kalimantan, which is known as the Keling Kumang CU Movement (Gerakan CU Keling Kumang). They have succeeded in fighting for the customary forest area belonging to the local people as a sustainable staff of life.

There is one more natural tourist destination in Kalimantan that is not only worthy but must be visited. This is an unusual natural tourist attraction: a lump, and only a single rock, is called: a monolith. 

Usually a hill is not single. So if you are on an adventure or vacation to Kalimantan, from this moment make sure that an ecotourism destination that challenges and captivates you is Bukit Kelam, Sintang.

Kalimantan with its natural charm, fresh air because of virgin forests, customs, culture, people, and its unique earth, air and air; offers its own charm for those of you who like adventure and nature tourism. 

I don't think we need promotion. Enough to quote the words that became the testimony of a European tourist who had set foot on Borneo. 

He said, "Borneo was created by God smiling."

If you're considering a journey to Borneo for an immersive tour, thrilling adventure, or a relaxing escapade, then Sintang deserves a prominent spot on your itinerary. But why does this district in East Kalimantan hold such appeal? Well, not too far from the heart of Sintang city, an intriguing sight awaits – the towering monolith known as Bukit Kelam. This lone stone, thought to be a fallen meteor from millions of years past, stands as a testament to the region's geological history. Its uniqueness lies in its singularity; while hills often come in pairs or groups, Bukit Kelam stands alone in its majestic solitude.

Beyond its geological significance, the allure of Bukit Kelam goes beyond mere landscapes. This monolith holds within its stony embrace stories of legends that have shaped the narrative of the region. Bujang Beji's saga intertwines with this stony sentinel – a tale of ambition, rivalry, and envy. It's said that Beji aimed to dam the Kapuas River, driven by a burning desire to outdo his angler counterpart, Temenggung Marubai. The result of this endeavor, whether due to divine intervention or simply the forces of nature, was the creation of Bukit Kelam, a massive stone that has now become a focal point of wonder and reflection.

The lore of Bukit Kelam extends even deeper into Sintang's history, entwining with the stories of Darajuanti and Patih Loh Gender – significant figures behind the rise of the Sintang kingdom. These legends add a layer of cultural richness to the region's appeal, drawing visitors not just for the physical grandeur of the monolith but also for the opportunity to connect with tales that have been passed down through generations. In this way, Bukit Kelam stands as more than a natural wonder; it's a living testament to the tapestry of history and culture that defines Sintang and its surroundings.

Don't call yourself an explorer or adventurer if you've never set foot on Borneo!n*)

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