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Bali : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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After the recent bomb blasts in Bali there was a ripple among all the globe trotters but in spite of all that Bali remains a hot favorite among the tourists who come to Indonesia for a trip. Bali is full of magic and enchantment that thrills the occasional tourist with its culture and exotic tropical beauty. There are paddy fields extending to the horizon and there are hill tops and mountains – all of which makes up for a beautiful backdrop.

Bali thus becomes a haunt for all those painters and artists and photographers who dream to visit a place of such beauty. The landscape of Bali is so beautiful that every landscape artist would want to portray that on canvas. Those who love photography would find there perfect dream destination. The people of Bali are extremely hospitable and warm hearted.

Bali is famous as the land of the gods. Over here the climate is pleasant – there is abundance of rain as well as of sunshine. July to early September is the time to visit this place – this is the busiest time of year in Bali.

Bali can be reached via airway as most international flights from all the continents of America, Europe, Australia and Asia take off for Bali. Cruises also arrive to this place. Domestic flights and ferries can also be taken from the other parts of Indonesia to come here.

Place to visit in Bali

There are a lot of places one can visit in Bali. The places of interest are Sanur Beach and Kuta Beach, Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Ubud, Goa gajah, Klungkung etc.

The beach Sanur has a lot of myths and legends associated with it. It is more of a spot related to legends rather than an attraction for its unique beauty. The white sand of the Kuta beach is quite an attraction. Besakih is said to be the holiest temple in Bali. Then there is the beautiful Mount Batur with a lake of its own.

Tourists find Bali to be very attractive and interesting mainly because of the various activities that goes on here. Among these bungee jumping is a favorite.

The thrill of jumping from the highest spots is just beyond words. There is also a waterfall jump in Bali which gets the adrenalin pumping. Paragliding is another such activity in which tourists take part. Swimming and surfing is of course a regular activity at the various beaches of Bali. One can even go scuba diving in Bali but it is pretty expensive. It is made sure that all the activities are safe and at the same time very exciting. Windsurfing, waterskiing, jet skiing – everything can be done over here. Bali is the place where every adventurer would want to be. It offers the experience of a lifetime.

Transportation

The various modes of transportation over here are the taxis, buses and bemos. At times the place is so over crowded with foreigners and tourists that one faces a lot of traffic. Bali is certainly one of those places where a globe-trotter wants to be at least once.

Accommodations in Bali

Bali has a huge supply of accommodations from small guesthouses to luxury resorts. One option would be is rent a private villa or a house with a private pool. For a list of resorts on Bali, please visit our Bali Accommodations website.

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Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu.

Indonesia

Pontianak : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Pontianak is the capital of the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, and bisected by the Equator. The city is mostly populated by ethnic Chinese, Dayaks and Malays, as well as significant numbers of minorities such as Bugis and Javanese. Understand History of Pontianak The word pontianak — probably from bunting […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Pontianak is the capital of the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, and bisected by the Equator. The city is mostly populated by ethnic Chinese, Dayaks and Malays, as well as significant numbers of minorities such as Bugis and Javanese.

Understand

History of Pontianak

The word pontianak — probably from bunting anak, “pregnant with child” — means the undead vampire of a woman who died while during childbirth. Disguised as a beautiful woman, the pontianak goes around murdering unwary men, harming pregnant woman and eating babies, but they can be controlled by plunging a nail into a hole in the back of their neck.

According to legend, when Abdurrahman Alqadrie’s group arrived in the uninhabited area of Pontianak, it was haunted by pontianaks/kuntilanaks, which deterred many of his companions by their scary voices at night. To sweep these ghosts away, Alqadrie ordered his men to fire their cannons to the forest which was believed to be their base. Afterwards, no more pontianak’s voice was ever heard.

In 1771, Abdurrahman Alqadrie cut down the forest which was at the crossing between Kapuas and Landak river, then settled there. He was awarded the title Sultan. Under his leadership, he succeeded in attracting many traders, most of them ethnic Malays, and some Dayaks from the upstream parts of the Kapuas River.

Following the civil war and widespread poverty in China at the end of the 19th century, many Chinese migrated to Indonesia, and some settled in Pontianak due to its strategic location for trading. This later added Chinese culture to the history of Pontianak. Chinese in Pontianak are mainly of Teochew, Hakka, and Cantonese descent.

In the early part of the 19th century, the Dutch occupied Pontianak and the rest of West Kalimantan’s cities as part of its colonial campaign. Pontianak was occupied to become a trading post in order to gain rich natural resources, mainly rubber and wood, from upstream Kapuas River. Resistance by both ethnic Malays and Dayaks continued sporadically and this forced the Dutch colonial armed forces to frequently request reinforcements from Batavia/Jakarta.

Dutch occupation ended in 1941 during World War II when Japanese Imperial forces overran Dutch bases from the north. These bases were not able to deploy sufficient numbers of soldiers in order to defend the strategic island of Java. During the Japanese occupation, tens of thousands of civilians and intellectuals were massacred, mainly those who refused to recognise the emperor of Japan.

When the Japanese retreated, the Dutch under the Allied Forces umbrella re-entered West Kalimantan. Their colonial government over Pontianak ended a few years later after a series of diplomatic missions and local resistance which also freed the other Indonesian territories at the same time.

People

You may find that Pontianakians of each ethnicity tend to live homogeneously. For example, areas along Jalan Gajahmada are overwhelmingly Chinese whereas Sungai Jawi in the suburb are settled mostly by ethnic Malays. Intermarriage is not common, especially between ethnic Chinese and the indigenous people (Dayaks, Malays, Javanese, Madurese, etc.) But that’s not to say these people like to fight against each other. Visit a restaurant somewhere in the middle of Pontianak and you might find both Chinese and Dayaks chatting hilariously with each other.

The locals of Pontianakians are mostly easygoing, at least compared to those of other metropolitan cities such as Jakarta and Surabaya. Their tone of speaking may not as soft as the Jogjanese, but if you try to blend yourself with them you will almost definitely be reciprocated.

Get in

By bus

Bus trip to Pontianak can be arranged from Kuching in neighboring Malaysia. A trip from Kuching to Pontianak or vice versa will last at least 8 hours which will pass the border area of Entikong. Some of the bus providers serving this route are Damri, SJS and Biaramas Express (www.mybus.com.my). The fares for the trip ranges from RM45 to RM75. Click Pontianak to Kuching for travel itinerary on this route. A bus trip to Brunei is also available. There is also a bus available from Pangkalan Bun. It takes around 14 hours and costs ~450,000 (2018/01).

By plane

  • x-0.150556109.4038891 Supadio Airport. There are very frequent flights from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport operated by all major Indonesian airlines. In addition, there are flights from many other major Indonesian cities, including Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Medan, and Batam, and the larger cities of Kalimantan such as Balikpapan and Banjarmasin. XpressAir operates international flights to Kuching, and AirAsia to Kuala Lumpur.

To get to or from the airport, DAMRI runs hourly bus service to the city centre for IDR35,000. The easiest spot to catch the bus in the city is at the DAMRI office at Jl. Pahlawan 232, Pontianak (phone +62 561 744859). For taxis, coupons at a fixed price of Rp70,000 are sold.

There are Damri Bus from Supadio Airport to Singkawang and Sambas for Rp 100,000/person.

By boat

While being the cheapest inter-island transportation mean, it is recommended only for travellers to board on a ship to Pontianak. Tourists would do better to fly instead. The tide in Java Sea is unstable, which may make you feel sick on board, if you are not used to high tide. A trip will spend 12-18 hours to/from Jakarta. Contact nearest travel agent to conduct your trip.

By car

Pontianak can be reached by car from Kuching in 6-8 hours, although the road is not in very good shape. See Pontianak to Kuching for a detailed itinerary.

Get around

The most convenient way to explore Pontianak is either by taxi or rented car. The entire Pontianak is integrated by road link, parts of which are not well maintained. There are also plenty of cheap (Rp2,000) public buses but sometimes it can be kind of adventure to use them since the buses are not well marked, drivers and most of the locals do not speak English and the orientation is difficult. Also there are boats crossing the river and this is in general the most convenient and the cheapest (Rp1,000) way to get in to the other side.

See

  • Kebun Binatang Pontianak (Pontianak Zoo), Jl. Adi Sucipto, a reconditioned zoo with a reasonable variety of animals from the jungles of Borneo and from some parts of Indonesia. Some of the collection, including some orangutans, were said to had been freed from illegal ownership by an Italian lumber mill owner.
  • Tugu Khatulistiwa (Equatorial Obelisk), built directly under the 0 degrees equator line. It is 11 km from the city centre and is comparably easily and quickly reachable by public buses (Rp2,000). There you can learn lots of interesting facts about the equator and to see how unique is Pontianak, one of the few cities in the world situated exactly on the equator line. There are friendly English-speaking staff and a sоuvenir shop, actually maybe the only one in Pontianak.

Do

  • Sungai Kapuas (Kapuas River) divides Pontianak into two different sides. Get a boat ride along the river about five or six o’clock local time and you will see amazing views along this river. The locals who live along this river taking a bath in this river during these hours throughout the year. A unique tradition that should not be missed.
  • During the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, there is a Meriam Karbit festival that is well worth visiting.

Buy

Equatorial souvenirs from the Equatorial Obelisk sоuvenir shop, as well as, cheap textile and many craftwork items as everywhere in Indonesia.

Eat

Pontianak is quite popular among domestic tourists due to its wide range of food with strong cultural touch, most notably the Chinese. There are plenty of eating options for the culinary adventurers, from street hawker food to local restaurant culinary to internationally franchised fast food.

  • Street hawker food, where you can taste the local delicacy such as Beef Rice Noodle & Beehoon (fried, with soup, dried), Seafood Noodle (with soup & dried), Nasi Goreng (fried rice with chicken, beef), Nasi Uduk, Kwe Kia Theng (Teochew phrase, rice noodle in soya sauce soup with pork and intestines (optional), Bakso (fish or beef ball soup), Sate (chicken or beef satay), Kari Peng (Teochew phrase meaning curry rice), Koi Peng (Teochew phrase literary “chicken rice”, but content also include pork, cucumber, etc. also known as “Nasi Campur” or mixed rice), Martabak, Kue Terang Bulan, Otak-otak, Pempek, Tui Jiu He (Teochew phrase literary “beaten cuttlefish”, dried cuttlefish are beaten until tender and flossy, woodfired until cooked, then served with belacan sauce, best to have it with friends and beer), Sio Bi (also known as Siomay, made of pork served in soya sauce with the options of chilli and mustard), Siomay Bandung (fish cake, beancurd, potato, vegetable, egg served in peanut sauce, with the option of chilli and tomato), He Mue/Bubur Ikan (fish porridge), and many more. These street hawkers are usually found from dusk until 10PM – midnight, depending or business, but some operated from dawn to dusk or midnight. They are usually clustered around busy commercial streets such as the CBD: Jalan (Jl.) Gajahmada, Jl. Hijas, Jl. Setia Budi, Jl. Agus Salim, Jl. Diponegoro, Jl. Patimura, Jl. Nusa Indah 1, Jl. Tanjung Pura, Jl Siam or around the suburban such as Jawi (Jl. Merdeka, Jl. Hassanudin, Jl. Wahid Hasyim), Kotabaru (Jl. St. Abdurrahman), Purnama, Siantan, Sungai Raya Dalam and Sungai Raya. Price per meal ranging from Rp5000 to about Rp25,000.
  • Satria Wangi Dining, Jl. Nusa Indah II No. 62. They have great local menu at very affordable price and average-English-speaking staff. The restaurant is centrally located. Its signature dishes such Ikan Gurame Terbang, Gulai Kepala Ikan, Ikan Jelawat Kukus, and have been featured and reviewed by many national TVs cooking show. 
  • Restoran Star, Jl. GajahMada. Pontianak cuisine 
  • Restoran Gajahmada, Jl. Gajahmada. Pontianak cuisine 
  • Restoran Hawaii, Jl. Nusa Indah 3. Pontianak cuisine 
  • Dangau, Jl. Arteri Supadio. Malay cuisine 
  • Italian Steak House, Jl. Nusa Indah 3. 
  • Sari Bento at Museum, Jl. Ahmad Yani. Japanese food 
  • Papyrus Restaurant at Gardenia Resort and Spa, Jl. A Yani (5 minutes from the airport). offers all-day dining with a selection of Asian, Western, and authentic Indonesian favourites. At open deck area, you can enjoy the views of the landscaped gardens while enjoying the chef’s specialities. 

Talk

Nearly all Pontians, regardless of their ethnicities, speak Bahasa Indonesia, albeit it is slightly mixed with Malay accent close to that of neighbouring Malaysia. Most ethnic Chinese people at the southern bank of Kapuas river speak Teochew, and those at the northern bank speak mostly Hakka (called Khek by locals). Mandarin is spoken mostly by those aged 30 years old or above, but don’t be surprised if they mix it with Hakka or Teochew dialect as it is not very commonly spoken in town. English is mostly spoken by also the young locals, but is usually not mastered beyond some basic knowledge despite many English courses, so it would be wise to know some phrases of Bahasa Indonesia. Hiring an English-speaking guide could smooth your travel a lot.

Stay safe in Pontianak

Pickpockets and motorcycle thefts are quite common in town. Exercise necessary caution even when being in a shopping mall. Be careful when travelling in a public bus (called oplet) as somebody could threaten you with a knife to hand over your valuables. (This safety note is from March 2009 and might be outdated)

Drink

Where to stay in Pontianak

If you arrive by Pelni ferry late at night then it’s better option to sleep aboard until morning as there is usually a long layover at Pontianak.

Budget

  • Hotel Wisma Patri, Pontianak. No air, no fan, no window and fairly mosquito-ridden with no insect spray available. Rp70,000. 
  • -0.0359109.334191 Ateng Guest House, Jl. Gajah Mada No. 201, Pontianak. Located in the centre of the city. All rooms are air conditioned and fairly clean. Breakfast included. Published rate is Rp130,000 single but compare price with Agoda. Travel agent is at the same location. Rp120,000 single. (updated Oct 2016)

Mid-range

  • Hotel Sentral, Jl H.O.S. Cokroaminoto no 232 (Ten minutes walk from drop off point for most Kuching buses, turn right at traffic light.). Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Faded rooms. Staff friendly enough. All have AC and attached bathrooms. On a busy junction between two streets so window rooms will be slightly noisy, (but non window rooms are a bit musty). Travellers have reported overpricing and demands for security deposit from the staff here From Rp160,000. 

Splurge

  • Gardenia Resort and Spa, Jl. A Yani II. 
  • Hotel Sentral, Jl. H.O.S. Cokroaminoto 232. Commercial Hotel 
  • Hotel Gajahmada, Jl. Gajahmada. 
  • Hotel Grand Mahkota. 
  • Hotel Peony, Jl. Gajahmada. 
  • Hotel Kapuas Palace, Jl. Imam Bonjol. 
  • Hotel Kini, Jl. Nusa Indah 3. Double from Rp400,000. 
  • Hotel Mercure, Jl. A. Yani. 
  • Hotel Orchardz, Jl. Gajahmada. 
  • Hotel Santika, Jl. Diponegoro. National Chain Hotel 
  • Star Hotel, Jl. Gajah Mada 189. 

Telecommunications in Pontianak

Phone call

Most national GSM and CDMA operators have their signal towers spread throughout the entirety of Pontianak, meaning that there should not be too many problems communicating around the town and the tariffs are also reasonable, at least for tourists coming from the West. Shops selling SIM cards and their top-ups are also in abundance, even in the outskirts of town, just like in other cities in Indonesia. Fixed line phones are also available everywhere. There are also few phone stalls (Warung Telkom) offering you phone call with a reasonable fare.

Internet access

Internet cafe businesses are flourishing, but you’ll only find a few without distracting gamers like you might find in typical East Asian internet cafes. Don’t worry about the billing (that’s how the locals say). An hour of internet access will cost you Rp3,000-6,000. But don’t expect a speed-of-light one out of it, though. Many locals have internet access varying from snaily dial-up to ISDN (most notably Telkom Speedy) installed in their houses. GPRS and 3G access from your cellphone exists, but you will not necessarily find GPRS signal everywhere even in the middle of the city.

Consulates in Pontianak

  • Malaysia Malaysia Consulate, Jl. Sutan Syahrir No. 21.  

Go next

Pontianak is the gateway for travellers wishing to travel deeper inland. Singkawang, another one of the most Chinese-influenced town is reachable by taxi. Kuching, which lies in the Malaysian part of the island, offers some modernity you wouldn’t find in the Indonesian part.

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Tomohon : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Tomohon is a city in Northern Sulawesi. It is the fourth-largest city in the province of North Sulawesi after Manado, Bitung, and Kotamobagu. Tomohon is south of Manado. Tomohon Districts Eruption of the Lokon-Empung volcano (2020) photographed from Tomohon North – Tinoor, Kinilow, Kakaskasen, Wailan, and Kayawu. The first region to be discovered in Tomohon […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Tomohon is a city in Northern Sulawesi. It is the fourth-largest city in the province of North Sulawesi after Manado, Bitung, and Kotamobagu. Tomohon is south of Manado.

Tomohon Districts

  • Image of Destination Guide

    Eruption of the Lokon-Empung volcano (2020) photographed from Tomohon

    North – Tinoor, Kinilow, Kakaskasen, Wailan, and Kayawu. The first region to be discovered in Tomohon from Manado. There is mat production, fruit and flowers vendors in several parts such as in Tinoor for fruits and Kakaskasen for flowers.

  • Central – Talete, Kamasi, Kolongan, and Matani. Downtown of Tomohon, center of public activities, hospitals, and Mayor office and city hall.
  • West – Woloan and Tara-Tara. Traditional House (knockdown type) production, Woloan Ancient Park where Waruga, the ancient tombs are collected in one area, in the same area are 9 springs.
  • East – Paslaten, Rurukan, Kumelembuai. Vegetable Farms on the slope of Mt. Mahawu and Mt. Masarang, and the famous Tomohon Traditional Market.
  • South – Walian, Sarongsong, Pinaras, Lahendong. Hotspring areas, the outstanding Lake Linow is located in Lahendong.

Understand

Tomohon is an important town in Northern Sulawesi. It is young but holds an important role in tourism of the province. The panorama and nature of Tomohon are attractions for those who travel this far. It lies between two volcanoes, Mt. Mahawu and Mt. Lokon. The town is shaped like a starfish, with long tentacles visible from higher ground. Because of its position on the highland, Tomohon has a very mild climate, for which it is famous. The friendliness of its people is also well known in the region.

Most people in Tomohon are Christian. Christianity plays an important role in all aspects of life. The Christians are diligent churchgoers. Mostly are Calvinist Protestants, members of Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa (abbreviated as GMIM). Instead, the synod of the churches that spread over the Minahasa region is in Tomohon. Christianity has been developing in the area ever since the time of Dutch colonization. Every village in Tomohon has a church from this denomination. The oldest one is GMIM Pniel Kakaskasen 2.

Besides the Calvinists, there is also a Catholic congregation, which is the second biggest in Tomohon. Several parishes exist in Tomohon. The big ones are St. Fransiskus Xaverius in Kakaskasen and St. Joseph. In Kakaskasen, there is a Monastery called Biara Bukit Karmel or Karmel Monastery. There are also other congregations from other denominations such as Pentecostal, Adventist, and several minor denominations. Every village from north to south and east to west has luxurious churches (or at least luxe for its congregation). And also, one village would normally have more than one building according to the number of the denominations. That is one reason you will see a church every several hundred meters.

Holidays

  • Christian

During holiday times, the people will decorate their houses, the lanes, the streets and so on with special themes. For example, during Christmas and New Year Christmas ornaments can be easily found anywhere in town. In several corners and intersections or in front of the church, a big white candle would stand up illuminating the lightless surrounding or a big decorated Christmas tree. Christmas musics starts playing as soon as September. They normally say “the months end in ‘-ber’ are Christmas.” During 1st – 24th December, the smell of Christmas cookies usually fill the air. The standard Christmas cookies in Tomohon such as nastar, kastengels, rambutan, biji-biji, sultana, snow white, kacang koek, corn flakes, and so on. The names of Christmas cookies are varied too. Christmas season would normally end with together with New Year on January 31st. During December, there would always be celebration they called it pre-christmas. In one month, a person could attend more than 10 pre-Christmas celebrations, for example pre-Christmas of the office, of the church, of the neighborhood, the school, the relative, family, youth organization, woman organization, from NGO, Sunday schools and so on. All the celebrations will end in a certain day called “kuncikan”, literally means closing day.

  • Chinese’s Holiday

The Chinese in Tomohon also still maintain their tradition of celebrating Chinese New Year and the biggest festival is on the 15th day after New Year, called Cap Go Meh. There will be a procession of calling the spirits of the Chinese Gods or Goddesses to possess mortal human bodies and they will be carried on sedan chairs from the temple around downtown to bestow their blessings on its believers. In this procession, the possessed mortal will perform magical things such as piercing his own cheek with some solid and sharp stick without from one to the other side without any bleeding out, a sword carrier will hit his own back with a very sharp sword without injuring himself, the other will cut his own tongue without injuring himself as well. This procession usually attracts attention of the whole town.

  • Islamic Holiday

Islam believers, although, a few, but they still have number in Tomohon. There is a special community in Southern Tomohon, they lived in a village called Kampung Jawa, literally means Javanese Village. Idul Fitri and the Month of Ramadhan are also celebrated here. However, there is not special procession for the holidays like at the other cities in Indonesia but praying in the open field on the day of Idul Fitri.

Culture

Tomohon is one of Minahasa Tribe region. Therefore, the Tomohoners are Minahasans. However, Minahasa Tribe is divided into several sub tribes, Tomohon belongs to a sub tribe called Tombulu. Pakasaan Tombulu spreads from Tombuluan in the east of Pineleng and Tombariri in the west and from Tomohon in the south to Manado in the north. Pakasaan Tombulu speaks Tombulu Language, Manado Malay, and Bahasa Indonesia. It is believed that Tomohon is the center of Pakasaan Tombulu. Pakasaan Tombulu in Tomohon, especially those who live in the region of Kakaskasen have special customs that are still maintained up until today.

  • Bakerah Tradition

This is a tradition of steam bath to a woman in several weeks after giving birth to a child. This is a traditional body cleansing process. The process of bakerah will be started by a special woman who has ability to arrange the process. She will boil a pail of water and while in the process, she will also put several special herbs such as leaves of agati tree (sesbania grandiflora) or leaves of hummingbird tree, lemon grass (cymbopogon nardus), kajuputih oil, and several other herbs into the boiling water. After the water boils, she will prepare a bucket or pail and pour the water and the herbs inside the container. The new mother will be asked to sit on a special chair that the bucket is placed under. She will be sitting and having a steam bath for around one hour. She will repeat the process for 7 days in a row.

  • Mapalus

This is a tradition of working together on the farm. A long time ago when modern technology for cultivation was still a dream, people in the highlands of Minahasa, especially in Tomohon, created a system of working the land together, called mapalus. Mapalus is a group of male and female farmers who are associated in a system, bound on their own or by village regulations to cultivate their farm lands. The farmers usually were divided into a timer and the workers. The timer’s function is to watch the time while working, carry the drum and hit the drum or another instrument called a tetengkoren. The process starts at dawn, around 04:30, with the sound of the drum. As the timer hits the drums in a special pattern, the other members of the group come at the appointed time to a house of one member, the intersection, street corner or any other place where they are meeting. Then, guided by the drum carrier, they go to one member’s farm. They work as the sun rises. While working, the workers usually sing songs, either together or responsorily.

  • Kumawus

This is a first or second Sunday of mourn after funeral. Kumawus derives from kawus means finish. I kawus ola, means just finish it, which means the mourn shall be finished. Kumawus means an activity to finish the mourning and all things or issues regarding to the late person. The other point also is that the left family will not have any more customs debt of those who have gone. Also with kumawus, the family was relieved, comforted and strengthened through meetings, fellowship with even more devotions.

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Banjarmasin : Travel Guide, with Info on Nightlife, What to See & Covid-19 Report

Banjarmasin is the largest city in South Kalimantan. The city population was 625,395 at the 2010 census. Average temperatures vary from 24ºC to 32ºC. The weather is mostly hot and it still has rain even if it is hot season. Introduction to Banjarmasin The official founding date of the city is 24 September 1526, but […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Banjarmasin is the largest city in South Kalimantan. The city population was 625,395 at the 2010 census. Average temperatures vary from 24ºC to 32ºC. The weather is mostly hot and it still has rain even if it is hot season.

Introduction to Banjarmasin

The official founding date of the city is 24 September 1526, but its history is older than that. From the time of the ancient kingdom of Nan Serunai, to the Buddhist kingdom of Tanjungpuri and the Hindu kingdom Negara Dipa and its succesor Negara Daha, the rivers of Southern Kalimantan were always been the favorite spot of the Malay people. That’s why Banjarmasin old name was “Bandar Masih”, meaning the port of the Malay in Dayak Bukit dialect. In the chaotic time of civil war between the rightful heir of Negara Daha, Pangeran Samudera, and his uncle, Pangeran Samudera was forced to flee for his life. At this time, Bandar Masih received him warmly, stopped paying taxes to his uncle and support Pangeran Samudera’s fight to get his throne back. When his uncle finally surrendered, Pangeran Samudera decided to make Bandar Masih his new capital, converted to Islam, and begun his rule over the new Islamic Kingdom of Banjar. His day of victory was then celebrated as Banjarmasin’s birthday.

The name “Bandar Masih” slowly changed into “Banjarmasin” as the water tastes salty when in dry season (salty is “masin” in Banjarese language). The Kingdom flourished and back in its golden era, its power enveloped almost all of the area of what is now Indonesia’s part of Kalimantan. After the fierce Banjar War which produced a lot of highly-revered local heroes such as Pangeran Antasari, however, it was forced to surrender the colonial Dutch, following the total destruction of the palace ground and the capture of the last Banjarese Princess (Ratu Zaleha).

Banjarmasin continued to be the capital of Dutch Borneo throughout the colonial era. Even after the forming of the Indonesian Government, Banjarmasin was the former capital of Kalimantan province until it was divided into 4 provinces (West, East, Central and South), then it became the capital of South Kalimantan. Little is left of its previous glory, but Banjarmasin silently kept her forgotten charm in unexpected places for the persistent travellers to find.

Get in

Fly to Banjarmasin

  • x-3.442222114.76251 Syamsudin Noor International Airport (26 km from the city, about half an hour drive). There are daily flights from major Indonesian cities including Jakarta and Surabaya, as well as flights from most other cities in Kalimantan, such as Pontianak and Balikpapan. To go to the city, you can take a taxi (with fixed rate of Rp120,000 as of March 2016) or better yet, tell your hotel to pick you up. Or, if you walk about 2 minutes to the street outside of the airport, you should be able to share a mini-van which costs Rp15,000 to go to kilometre 6 terminal. 

Travel to Banjarmasin by car

The roads of Trans-Kalimantan are in bad condition, but if you’re patient and adventurous you can try to reach Banjarmasin from the neighbouring provinces of Central Kalimantan and East Kalimantan by car.

Travel by ship/cruise to Banjarmasin

Another alternative to get to Banjarmasin is by ship from various places in Indonesia to Banjarmasin’s main harbour, Trisakti. Be forewarned that the condition of passenger ship transportation in Indonesia is poor, albeit cheap, and you might want to consider that before spending the night (at least 1 night if you come from Java). You best bet is Express Ferry where it’s available, 8 hours from Java, and 2 days + 2 nights of sea trip from Jakarta Tanjung Priuk Harbor Passenger Terminal. Plus, there are ferries from Semerang and Surabaya, both on Java. There’s a ferry every 2 days between Surabaya and Banjarmasin.

The ferry between Surabaya and Banjarmasin is 21 hours. If you have a problem with cigarette smoke, this is not a good method of travel. Smoking is permitted in the sleeping area. There are no cabins. Women travelling alone will receive a considerable amount of male attention. The food is not good.

Travel by boat to Banjarmasin

Alternatively, if you are coming from the neighbouring provinces of East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, there are a lot of boat transportations through the rivers of Kalimantan. This could be an adventurous or boring ride depending on your taste. A range of boats are available, from slow moving boats to speedboats. It’s a great choice if you are extremely adaptable with the locals’ way of life.

Get around

Your best bet would be the metered taxi, insist the driver to use the meter if you have to. Alternatively, you can use “angkot” or “bamikro” or public shuttle microbuses (Rp5,000 per passenger), which are also called “taxi” by the locals. Also available is by “ojek” (motorcity taxi) and “becak” (tricycle rickshaw), that cost around USD2.00-2.50 or Rp15,000 – 20,000 for inner city trips. There are some really old orange-colored “bajaj’ (auto rickshaw) on the city streets as well.

Another options is to hire a motor bike. Amelindo Bike Rent offers motorbikes from Rp75,000/day. And for a Rp40,000 service fee, they will bring the motorbike to or pick it from a given address.

With the arrival of “online taxi” transportation services like GoJek/GoCar, and Grab, visitors and locals alike can now get around the town at a much cheaper rate by downloading and using the associated mobile applications. A ride across town in a new car can be as cheap as Rp20,00-25,000. More traditional taxis are comparatively expensive in Banjarmasin (often charging a minimum fee of Rp50,000, even for a ride as short as crossing the street). Make sure you use Indonesian phone number! Good luck.

Sightseeing in Banjarmasin

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Banjarmasin

Architectural heritage

Banjarese, the name of South Kalimantan’s ethnicity, have a unique way of building their houses and other structures in harmony with nature. There are at least 12 types of traditional Banjarese houses, which have unfortunately lost their popularity in modern times. Still, you can see a few houses that were built with traditional techniques all over Banjarmasin if you really search for them. The palace ground was totally destroyed by the colonial Dutch, but you can still visit its remnants in Kampung Kraton, along Jalan Pangeran Samudera. There, you can see Masjid Sultan Suriansyah. Built during Pangeran Samudera’s rule, it is the first Mosque in South Kalimantan and contains the royal burial site.

  • Museum Waja Sampai Ka Puting – this was an old and genuine Banjarese traditional house in “Bubungan Tinggi” style (one of the 12 styles and the most bona fide one) before it was transformed into a museum.
  • Masjid Sultan Suriansyah – The oldest mosque in South Kalimantan, more than 300 years old.
  • Masjid Raya Sabilal Muhtadin – a giant modern mosque completed in 1981, the second largest in Indonesia. The name was taken from a very popular Classical Islamic Jurisprudence Written by Syeikh Muhammad Arsyad Al-Banjary called “Kitab Sabilal Muhtadin” means “the right path”.

Rivers

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Pandukuhan di Banjarmasin

Banjarmasin is abundant with wide and mighty rivers. The rivers have always been a part of Banjarese way of life. Every morning there are floating markets in which farmers and traders bring their goods to trade on boats. It has always been a farmers’ market and it’s interesting to see the river-based way of life. The rivers are also the main venues for boat races and other festivities. The main attractions are the waterlogged suburbs traversed by canals; much of the city’s commerce takes place on water.

  • Floating markets – trading is from dawn until around 09:00. Get there early. Journey takes around 20 minutes by boat.

Actually, in South Kalimantan, there are three floating market.

  • Canal trips

There are many destination or ways for canal trips, for example : kelayan river, kuin river, or other small rivers around Banjarmasin

  • Pulau Kembang (lit. Flower Island) – visit the long-tailed macaques at the decrepit Chinese temple, 20 minutes by boat. You can buy nuts to feed them. The monkeys are quite aggressive if you have food and will try to steal it from you. There is an entrance fee of Rp 150,000 and on Sunday it is Rp 250,000 (prices correct as of January 2018).
  • Pulau Kaget (lit. Surprised Island) – see the proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), the mascot fauna of South Kalimantan. No guarantee you will have a good look at them, though, as they are really shy.
  • Pulau Bakut Island under the bridge, here there is also proboscis monkey. Rp 600,000, which can be haggled down (price correct as of January 2018). You don’t go onto the island but you can see from the monkeys from the boat.

To reach these islands, you will need to employ a local to take you by boat. One recommendation is to contact a tour guide called Mukani, who has 20 years’ experience. Telephone +62 813 511 94444. Alternatively, you can ask around and negotiate a price.

What to do in Banjarmasin

In Sunday mornings, people from Banjarmasin have a tradition of walking, running, jogging, cycling or go with whatever you want toward the suburbs that is called “Pal Tujuh”. There, they would go to the “Pasar Ahad” or “Sunday Market” which opens only on Sundays. Enjoy local treats such as Ketupat Kandangan and Apam as your warm breakfast over there.

  • -3.339501114.5884391 Waterboom Alfin, Jalan Tembus Mantui, Kelayan Selatan, Banjarmasin Selatan. Large outdoor swimming pool with some slides and other attractions. (updated Aug 2017)

2) You should visit the place called ‘Siring Banjarmasin’ ,there are a lot of seller that sell so many varieties of fruits and they are selling it on their boats. So it called “floating market” in banjarmasin. Happy travelling 😀(anonymous)

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