East Kalimantan due to huge supplies of oil, gas, wood and coal, is the richest part of the whole Indonesia. Local tribes traditionally live in communal longhouses called lamin or umaq daru. They are built on wooden piles which can sometimes be as tall as 3 metres high as protection against wild animals and flooding. The Punan, however, are nomadic hunter-gatherers, who still move around the jungles and only use the longhouse at the height of the rainy season. Steeped in tradition, the interior of the longhouse is typically divided into separate family quarters with a communal area connecting each of the quarters and therefore each of the families. It is in these communal areas that village gatherings are held and ceremonies performed, in that way reinforcing the strong tribal bonds that have kept the Dayaks active in the face of rapidly advancing technologies. As a major producer of oil and timber, East Kalimantan is now the most industrially advanced province of the island and the second largest province in Indonesia. It is also the habitat of the original people of Kalimantan, the "Orang Gunung" ( mountain people ). The tribes are collectively called Dayak, although this name is not embraced by many tribes-people themselves, who prefer to be known by separate tribal names such as Iban, Punan and Banuaq. Guardian statues are normally placed in front of longhouses to guard them against evil spirits who bring sickness and bad luck. Such longhouses, however, are gradually vanishing and many that remain have been converted into meeting halls or stages for dance and music performances. The more isolated and customary tribes-people have pierced earlobes, which over the years have become stretched by the weight of heavy gold or brass rings, and beautifully elaborate tattoos. Local jewellery and designs are intricate and powerful, often giving messages to be passed down from generation to generation. Travelling along the extensive Mahakam river, which has carved its way through the jungles and flatlands constantly reshaping and nourishing the land, is a fascinating adventure. River boats slide unobtrusively through heavily silt laden waters where plants and animals feed and drink along these nourishing shores, wild orchids drip off trees; proboscis monkeys, orangutans, crocodiles, clouded leopards, crab eating macaques, giant butterflies and the legendary hornbill all live here. A 5,000 acre Orchid Reservation close to the village of Kersil Luwai cultivates 27 different species of orchid including the very rare Cologenia Pandurata or black orchid.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Sumarinda & Balikpapan
Sumarinda and Balikpapan are commercial centres of the East Kalimantan province. Balikpapan is the centre of oil and timber industry. Sumarinda, the capital of East Kalimantan, is a lively city located on both sides of Mahakam river. The city is the jumping-off place for visits to Dayak country.
Located in the regency of Kutai with an area of approximately 200.000 ha, Bontang has a rare flora and fauna. The Kutai National Park near Bontang is north visiting to see sceneries especially those at Beras Basah.
It is one place for the adventure-seeking visitors. Things of historic value and ancient remains, art collections and traditional ceremonies, with a background of beautiful panoramas of the jungle and mountains are to be found here.
Tanah Merah Indah - Lempake
This is recreational park called Tanah Merah Indah- Lempake with a waterfall, located 16 km from downtown Samarinda. It can be reached by car or public transportation
Tenggarong, up the Mahakam river from Samarinda, is the capital of the Kutai regency and was once the seat of the Kutai sultanate. The Sultan's palace at the riverside is now a museum where the old royal paraphernalia are kept, as well as an excellent collection of Dayak handicrafts and antique Chinese ceramics.
Tanjung Isuy is a little village on Danau Jempang.
Melak & Kersik Luwai
Melak is a little village further upstream on the Mahakam river in the heart of the land of Tanjung Dayak. Not far from the village is the Kersik Luwai orchid reserve, where famous black orchids grow.