My Last 24 hours in Kalimantan Tengah

My last day in Kalimantan was incredibly busy and it wasn’t till I reached the airport and checked in, that I was finally able to sit down and take a breath!
My day began when Bu Arfa met me at Monique’s house after my unusual sleepover, where she spent some time helping the family search for her. All her school friends were contacted and quizzed to discover her whereabouts, but to no avail. It seemed that she had totally vanished. Bu Arfa thought there was a chance that she joined her friend at the Scout Camp, so a quick call to Monique’s father who was in bed sick, to ask him if I could get a lift out to the camp ground with the driver who was going to follow up on that lead. He happily agreed and I was very grateful because it was quite a long trip out to the camp ground and the last part of the road was unsealed and very sandy. We overtook many motorbikes struggling through the soft sand and I was very thankful to be in an air conditioned 4 x wheel drive car.
The camp ground itself was very basic and on a barren plot of earth with a few trees, none of which had enough leaves to provide any shade. The scouts who had already arrived had set up their tents around a open sandy parade ground 20130930-195212.jpg
which was in front of the main building. You can see the tents in the background of this photo:

This building is where the scout leaders not only based themselves but was also where Bu Arfa’s cooking team did all their cooking. The building had 3 rooms, 2 of which were immediately designated as bedrooms with one being for all the men and another for all the women. The building also had a tiny bathroom (complete with squat toilet) for the staff which was fantastic as the toilets and bathrooms for the scouts felt miles away and apparently weren’t very nice because all the doors, some of the roof tiles and some of the flooring had been stolen due to the remoteness of the camp site.
Soon after arriving, I went for a walk. Here is the road leading into the camp site:

20130930-201210.jpgIsn’t it flat and sandy?
Here is the entrance to the camp grounds:

20130930-201310.jpgOne of the schools had just arrived in a truck loaded not only with their teams but also with everything they would all need over the next 4 days.
Back on the tiled pavilion, connected to the main building, representatives from each of the participating schools were sitting in a circle discussing the camp schedule and the responsibilities for each scout group with the scout leaders. Each schools in the regency of Kotawaringan Barat were invited to attend the scout camp and each school that accepted sent a team of about 8 males and 8 females. Each school then designated 4 representatives to attend this meeting, which gave them all the opportunity to clarify any of the arrangements.

20130930-202626.jpgThis tiled area was beautifully cool as there was quite a strong breeze coming straight off the nearby coastline.
Towards the end of the meeting, a young boy decided to climb the flag pole. No one knows why he chose to do this because while the rope for hoisting the flag was twisted, the flag pole can be lifted out and laid flat to unknot the rope which is definitely a safer way of doing this. The meeting broke up suddenly when the boy slipped and fell to the ground injuring himself severely. One of the scout leaders had to take him to hospital immediately with a suspected broken arm and jaw and goodness only knows what else. It was incredibly foolish of him.
Straight afterwards, there was a quick rehearsal for the opening ceremony and every scout team had to line up together facing the flag poles while they had a run through of the formal ceremony..

20130930-204713.jpgIt was interesting to see just how many scouts were here for the camp!
It got dark very quickly after this. I went with Bu Zaitun to our schools scout group to see what their camp looked like. It was pitch black with no lighting anywhere to see where we were walking. We had to be very careful and stick to paths, borrowing torchlight where ever we could. The camp ground was like a paddock and even the road running around the perimeter was bumpy and we had to take care. The girls teams had all set up their tents to one side of the grounds while the boys were all set up on the other side. Most teams had made their tents from saplings which they had cut down themselves and then had bound them in such a way to drape a tarpaulin over the frame to form a tent. Each group had also made a fence and an entrance to their camp area using large bamboo poles. Each team’s camp area was very decorative and creative. Generators created power for each tent to string a light up and some also had a long fluro light attached to their entrance.
In our girls tent, we discovered our dance team finalising preparations for the traditional dance performance which was due to start any minute. We left them to it and headed back to the building pavilion where a dance area had been roped off and other teams were already seated along the outside of the rope boundary waiting for the performance to begin. Once the first dance team began, the crowd grew and soon the dance area was surrounded by enthusiastic and cheering teenagers. The dances were fantastic but what I particularly loved were the traditional costumes. Most were traditional Kalimantan costumes but there were also a few Javanese ones reflecting the large numbers of families who have moved to Kalimantan under the national transmigration program.

The Kalimantan costumes were beautiful and most reflected the Dayak culture.



I only managed to watch a few of the dances when I was suddenly grabbed by Bu Arfa and told me get my stuff as we were heading home. Apparently a boy had been running to the toilet block and had tripped into a ditch and dislocated his elbow. Bu Arfa recommended someone she knew who could help the boy, so we got a lift back to town with the boy’s principal! While I had been all set to stay the night sleeping at a scout camp, I was equally happy to go back to town where I could sleep on a mattress rather than on a rattan mat on the floor but more importantly was particularly relieved to have some time to finish packing. It turned out that the main reason Bu Arfa wanted us to go back to Pangkalan Bun was because she was starting to get nervous that it would be too difficult to get back to town the next day in time for my flight to Bali.
The trip back to Pangkalan Bun was rough and I felt so sorry for the young lad nursing a dislocated elbow. It would have been so painful and I rued forgetting our pillows as that would have cushioned the bumps significantly for him had he been able to rest it on something soft instead of just holding it. Once the elbow had been realigned, it was then splinted to hold it straight and as we walked out the door, the boy was advised to avoid eating peanuts for a couple of weeks! There seems to be a significant link here throughout Indonesia according to doctors between peanuts and bones. This hasn’t been the first time I have heard someone with either broken bones or aching joints to have been told not to eat peanuts. I’d love to know what the link is!
By the time we collapsed into bed, it was after 11pm! It was bliss knowing I didn’t have to get up early the next morning however my internal body clock woke me as usual at 5:30. Soon after breakfast, we headed out to do some more shopping for the camp.
On the way we dropped in briefly at Monique’s house and discovered that she had been found safe and sound. She had caught a bus to Palangka Raya to visit her Mum. I was so relieved to hear she had turned up.
We continued on to town and bought 3 boxes of sweets for the opening ceremony.

20131001-083735.jpgBu Arfa choosing which ones she wanted





20131001-084301.jpgDo you recognise any of these?
We left the boxes with the seller to be collected later so we wouldn’t have to lug them about with us. We drove off and immediately came across the marching competition. We wove in and out of the marchers waving hello to the many teams from our school. It was the middle of the day and very hot and humid. Each team had a support crew on a motorbike. The person riding pillion balanced a box of water on their lap and would offer the water to the team whenever they were taking a break from marching by just walking normally. Each marching team consists of 15 marchers and one commandant who directs the movement and direction. The commandant is the person walking to the far right of each team in the front row.


Traffic continued alongside the marchers however there were policeman standing along the route to keep an eye on everything.


We then popped into the market to buy fresh spice mixes (how lovely to be able to do that) and then with all our shopping, collected the boxes of cakes and took them all to SMP #7 where it would be collected later. We then decided to treat ourselves to lunch and a cold drink and completely by accident chose the warung that the SMA#2 staff were at recovering from the competition specifically for government officials. They were all in uniform and looked absolutely exhausted!

After our goodbyes, we headed home to finish packing and on the way stopped off to buy some fruit.

20131001-090442.jpgCan you see the fresh rambutans and mandarins? They were so sweet and juicy.

We had hoped to be able to go home and have a little time to rest but no sooner had we got home that Bu Arfa recieved a call saying that if she wanted a lift back to the camp ground she needed to get back to SMP # 7 now as the truck was about to leave. As Bu Arfa’s motorbike was still at the camp ground, she didn’t have any choice, We grabbed everything, and her husband drove us to SMP 7 where I said a hurried goodbye to her and then he took me to the airport. He had to get back to school, so he dropped me off. As I was checking in, the guys behind the counter asked me what I had been doing in Pangkalan Bun. They were gobsmacked when I told them I had been working at SMA 2 and as I walked off to pay my departure tax, I could here them repeating it with awe to the other counter staff! Bu Arfa would be thrilled to hear that even at the airport, I was promoting her school!


6 thoughts on “My Last 24 hours in Kalimantan Tengah

  1. Hi Bu Cathy,

    Nama saya Vembry, orang Kalimantan Timur, yang akan kuliah di SA. Kalau boleh, saya bisa minta kontak email ibu? Terima kasih.

      • Saya sebenarnya sudah hampir 2 tahun kuliah di Monash, Melbourne. Tahun depan bulan Maret saya akan melanjutkan kuliah undergraduate di Flinders. Sekarang saya sedang berada di SA untuk berlibur dan lihat-lihat Flinders sampai hari sabtu besok. Pastinya saya akan pindah ke SA pada bulan Februari setelah semua urusan dengan imigrasi selesai. Kalau boleh, saya lanjutkan kontaknya lewat email ibu. Terima kasih.

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