Central Kalimantan is the biggest province of the island, it occupies an area of 153,800 km2, most of it is jungle, swamps, rivers and agriculture land. The Dayak who live there belong to the most traditional of the island. The three big Dayak sub-tribes who inhabit this province are the Ngaju, Ot Danum, and Ma'anyan. The Ngaju, like some other sub-tribes, moves from one region to another. They stick to the old Kaharingan religion, which is a form of ancestor worship, mixed with elements of animism. The Ot Danum live in longhouses in pillars (called betang), two to five metres above the ground, which sometimes have as many as 50 rooms. With approximately 6,000 people, the Ot Danum is the largest among the three sub-tribes. They are known for their skill in plaiting rattan, palm leaves, and bamboo. Made by the women, such products are sold in cities and towns such as Banjamasin, Kualakapuas, and Sampit. Like other Dayaks, the men are good hunters, using simple tools. The art of Central Kalimantan clearly bears the marks of the Kaharingan religion, which is the traditional belief of the Dayaks in the hinterland of Central Kalimantan. Building styles, statues, carvings, and other products are related to the cultural elements of the Hindus, Chinese, and Hindu-Javanese. Aside from their aesthetic properties, such products are appreciated for their magic value. The Ngaju belong to the best artists of Kalimantan, this reputation is shown in the ceremonial objects for the dead, like the wooden coffins, tombs, and sailboat and big statues.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Palangkaraya is the province capital of Central Kalimantan and situated in the upstream region of the Kahayan river. These days, the town has become the centre of government, trade and education of the province. The Regional Museum of Palangkaraya contains a collection of historical and cultural interest from all over Central Kalimantan. The Nature Reserve of Tangkiling lies 34 kilometres north of Palangkaraya. Small rivers flow through the reserve.
Kualakapuas is the capital of the Kapuas regency, south of Palangkaraya, on the Kapuas river 40 kilometers from Banjarmasin. A well-known tourism attraction is Telo Island, a fishing village and port. It is a pleasant site for recreation. For the adventurer, white water rafters and nature lovers, there is Gohong Rawai, known for its beautiful and challenging rapids. The gold mines of Teweh and Batu Api, Rungan district, are also interesting sites to be visited. In this region, gold mining is a major source of livelihood for the people, who pan for the valuable metal using the old traditional method. Gold mines are found in many places in Central Kalimantan.
Sampit town, on the Sampit river and the capital of Sampit regency, is known as the biggest timber port in Kalimantan as well as in Indonesia. Here can be found many sawmill which process the timber for export. Pandaran Beach is a park on the seaside at the mouth of the Sampit river. It is quite unique. One sees to one's north the river emptying its water into the sea. To the south is the wide expanse of the Java Sea. The Orchid Park of Pembuangan Hulu is a natural forest in which a number of rare and beautiful orchid varieties grow. Hunters can engage in their favorite pastime at the Serayan river which borders on the hunting park of Kotawaringin Barat.
Pangkalanbun is the capital of the Kotawaringin Barat regency, in the western part of Central Kalimantan. It is busy little town. In this town, the old Palace of Pangkalanbun now 200 years old, can still be seen. Made of ulin (iron-wood), it is the only Banjar royal legacy found in Central Kalimantan. The Mosque of Kyai Gede is the oldest mosque, being more than 300 years old, found in Kotawaringin district.
Tanjung Putting National Park
The Tanjung Puting National Park, occupying over 300,000 km2 of a large promontory which juts south into the Java Sea, is known to hold over 600 species of tree and 200 different orchids. It is entirely a lowland area, the highest elevation of the park being just 30 metres above sea level. Declared a national park in 1982, and now an extremely important refuge for Kalimantan wildlife, it is probably best known for the work done there on researching and rehabilitating orangutans at a centre which has now become an important attraction. The highlight is the orangutan feeding sessions at one of the park's three ranger stations. The first, Tanjung Harapan cares for orphaned infants and new arrivals. The most famous is Camp Leakey, here Bornean orangutans which have been rescued from captivity are looked after before being encouraged to return to the wild. While the orangutan are a must-see, a more serene way to experience them can be found at Pondok Tanngui. At the feeding sessions, orangutan who hover near the stations are offered bananas and milk to stave off starvation while at the same time encouraged to forage in the forest for food such as fruit, leaves and bark.