West Kalimnatan contains over 100 rivers which crisscross the swampy coastal plains found here and descend from the mountains in the interior. Among the rivers is Sungai Kapuas, the longest waterway in Indonesia at 1143 kilometers. It is a major artery for transport vehicles and logs being floated down from the interior. A rich variety of minerals and precious stones have been found. West Kalimantan has a tropical climate with the average daily minimum temperature of 22 degrees C and maximum 31.5 degrees C. There is a light rainy season from March to May and heavy rainy season from November to January.

West Kalimantan is one of the most sparsely populated regions in the Indonesia. Some areas have not been explored. Stone carvings and ceramics can be traced as far back as the 5th century, but it is the influence of Islam that has had the most impact on this region. In the mountainous eastern parts of the province, away from the city and plains, there are many Dayak villages. There are Iban settlements as well as Kapuas and Puna and Kayan villages on the mountains. Some longhouses can be found on the Kapuas river and its tributaries. On the outskirts of Pontianak there is a long house that is over 550 feet long and only 20 feet wide. 269 people live in it.

West Kalimantan (Kalimantan Barat) Province covers 147,307.00 square kilometers. Its population grew from 4,042,817 in 2005 to 4,393,239 in 2010 to 4,783,209 in 2015. The population density (people per square kilometer) is 32.5. The provincial capital and largest city is Pontianak.

Chinese, Malays, Dayaks, Bugis from South Sulawesi, Javanese and migrants from Madura make up about 96 percent of the population of West Kalimantan. Malays make up 40 percent of the population. By some reckonings Dayaks also make up around 40 percent of the population. They are mostly Catholics, marginalized and poor; the majority live in the rural areas. Relatively few are found in the big cities like Pontianak and Singkawang. One of the highest concentrations of Chinese in Indonesia is found in West Kalimantan. They are particularly numerous in Pontianak and Singkawang. Some residents are Javanese who were relocated here and given a plot of land and two buffalo as part of the transmigration program. Madurese who also arrived as part of the transmigration program make up two percent of the population. They were victims of spate of Dayak headhunting in 1998.

Supadio International airport, 18 kilometers from Pontianak city is easily accessible from Jakarta or Singapore by air. PELNI’s Ship sail from Jakarta and Surabaya to Pontianak. Pontianak is easy accesible from Kuching, East Malaysia via Entikong.Tourism Office: Jl. Sutoyo, Pontianak 78121, Tel. +62(561) 736541,768274, 743104, 742438 Fax. +62(561) 730062, 742838, Website: disbudpar.kalbarprov.go.id


Kalimantan occupies the southern two thirds of Borneo and embraces an area of 539,000 square kilometers (208,285 square miles ). It is an Indonesian region. Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak, and the independent country of Brunei occupy the northern part of Borneo. Kalimantan is divided into five provinces: North Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan. In August 2019, the Indonesian government announced a plan to move Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to a location near Balikpapan and Samarinda in East Kalimantan

Kalimantan is a vast, thinly settled region, covered mostly by large wildernesses with marshy coastal plains and jungle covered mountains in the interior. It is a land of rain forests where wild orangutans can still be found and former headhunters welcome tourists into their longhouses. It also suffers from heavy deforestation. Logging companies are quickly exploiting the timber resources and palm oil companies are burning down the forest create plantations. It is also ravaged by fires.At the end of drought in 1982, a fire raged in East Kalimantan for almost year, destroying 33,700 square kilometers (13,000 square miles) of forest. It was the largest fire ever recorded.

The name Kalimantan, which is sometimes spelled Klemantan, was derived from the Sanskrit word Kalamanthana, which means "burning weather island", or island with a very hot temperature, to describe its hot and humid tropical climate. It consists of the two words kal (time, season, period) and manthan (boiling, churning, burning). The word Kalamanthana is spelled Kalmantan, and then the indigenous people fixed it into Klemantan. It has been said that Kalimantan is a word that means "river of diamonds" in Malay. That is not true.

Kalimantan has a very small population. It accounts for 28 percent of Indonesia's area but only 5.5 of the population, and accounts about 16 million of the 23 million people that live in Borneo. Most live on the coast in the west. Most of the population is made of Malay Indonesians. Chinese have controlled trade in the region for centuries. Many residents are from or are descendants of people that came from elsewhere in Indonesia — most Javanese and Madurese — as part of Indonesia’s Transmigration effort to move people from overpopulated areas to thinly populated areas.

Kalimantan covers 544,150.07, square kilometers. Its population grew from 12,541,554 in 2005 to 14,297,069 in 2010 to , 15,320,017 in 2015. The population density (people per square kilometer) is 28.

Provinces of Kalimantan: Province, Area (square kilometers), Population (2005C), Pop. (2010C), Pop. (2015C prelim), Pop. density/square kilometers, Provincial capital, Largest metro
West Kalimantan (Kalimantan Barat), 147,307.00, 4,042,817, 4,393,239, 4,783,209, 32.5, Pontianak, Pontianak
Central Kalimantan (Kalimantan Tengah), 153,564.50, 1,913,026, 2,202,599, 2,490,178, 16.2, Palangkaraya, Palangkaraya
South Kalimantan (Kalimantan Selatan), 38,744.23, 3,271,413, 3,626,119, 3,984,315, 102.8, Banjarmasin, Banjarmasin
East Kalimantan (Kalimantan Timur), 129,067, 2,840,874, 3,550,586, 3,422,676*, 26.5, Samarinda, Balikpapan
North Kalimantan (Kalimantan Utara), 71,176.72, 473,424, 524,526, 639,639, 8.5, Tanjung Selor, Tarakan


Pontianak (western Kalimantan) lies right on the equator and is home to about 500,000 people. Located on the Kapuas River,Indonesia’s longest and largest river, it sprawls over a large area and is linked by canals and rivers as well as roads. The river can be enjoyed from the ferries that cross it or from hired sampan or speed boat. The commercial center of town is in the area around Jl Rahadi Usman. Many Chinese live in Pontianak Ethnic Chinese, mostly Christian traders, have traditionally been wealthier than the majority of Muslims. Indigenous Dayaks are outnumbered by other ethnic groups. They are mostly Catholics, marginalized and poor. Tourism Office: Jl. Sutoyo, Pontianak 78121, Tel. +62(561) 736541,768274, 743104, 742438 Fax. +62(561) 730062, 742838.

Pontianak is West Kalimantan’s capital and largest city. Long known as a busy trading port facing the South China Sea, it is a cosmopolitan city where various ethnic groups live and interact: Malays, Dayaks, Bugis, Bataks, Minangkabaus, Javanese, Chinese and Arabs. Bugi Phinisi schooners can be seen tied at Pontianak’s docks, their crew busy loading and unloading goods. In Malay folklore, a Pontianak is the ghost of a stillborn female and a vampire-type creature..Legend has it that the city’s sultan, Syarif Abdurrahman Alkadri, once fired a cannonball during a fight with a pontianak — — hence the name of the city.

The town of Pontianak was built by Syarif Abdurrahkan Alkadrie in 1771 who established the Pontianak Sultanate here. In the mid 1700s a gold rush attracted Chinese miners, who came and settled around the gold fields of Mandor, Montrado, and Singkawang, north of Pontianak. At the time, the West Borneo (now Kalimantan) gold fields were rich, producing 18 to 21 carat gold. By some estimates a staggering one-seventh of the world’s total gold supply came from the region. Soon, however, yields diminished. Nonetheless, gold panning is still widely practiced. Most of the Chinese miners were men that came on their own. At that time the Chinese Emperor forbade women from leaving the country, Many Chinese men married the local Dayak girls, thus creating inter-marriages between the two groups.

A monument marking the exact location of the Equator was built here by a Dutch geographer and explorer. Upriver along the Kapuas, Dayak tribes stage sun’s culmination celebrations during the spring and autumnal equinox while here, in Pontianak, you can find yourself standing on your own shadow, twice a year.

Sights and Activities in Pontianak

Sights in Pontianak include Mesjid Abdurrakhman, a Sumatran-style mosque with a square-tiered roof made entirely of wood in the lat 18th century; the Istan Kadriyah, a former palace now a museum with possessions of the sultan; the Museum Megero Pontianak, with some Dayak and tribal displays; and the Equator Monument., an obelisk with a few additions initially erected in 1928 by a Dutch explorer. There are interesting views of river life on the boardwalk near Mesjid Abdurrakhman. Do not get dehydrated when traveling under the glaring Pontianak sun. Bring adequate supplies of drinking water.

The Equator Monument at Sintang was built in 1928 by a Dutch explorer to mark the spot at which the zero degrees latitude line cross the city. Considering the technology available as that time, the location of monument is remarkably close — but still some distance away — to placement of the equator with modern satellite technology. The Dutch explorer indicated the site with a simple pole and an arrow. Several renovations and improvements have taken place over the years including the construction of a dome in 1990 to protect the initial site. The monument today is five times larger than the original. Historical facts are presented within the monument and in the small museum.

The Kadariah Sultanate in the Dalam Bugis District, East Pontianak is a palace built in an old Malay style of architecture. It has a gate as an entrance that leads to a buffer zone filled with rows of houses prior to entering the main building. The sultan’s palace is an open house that receives everyone anytime in the year. An English-speaking interpreter, who is a relative of the last Sultan, is available Nearby, stands a mosque that was built in the same year as the sultan’s palace.Legend has it that Syarif Abdurrahman Alkadri once fired a cannonball to fight a disturbing female ghost, known here as “pontianak” — hence the name of the city. The site where the cannonball landed became the location of the palace, with attached mosque for prayers. Today, the mosque still looks grand and beautiful especially when seen from a river cruise on the Kapuas.

A cruise on the Kapuas River is a must. Tourists pass the waterfront in front of the Mayor’s Office on Taman Alun Kapuas or Jalan Rahadi Usman and visit other sites. Boats are available from waterfront area. Take the cruise before sunset and you see a lot of activity along the river. The captain will usually cross the equator line and tell you that you are about to move from the south of the globe to the north.

Chinese and Arabs are two migrant groups that played a crucial role in the development of Pontianak region. You can see shop houses where Chinese traders have been conducting business for centuries. The museum of Pontianak has been named one of the five best museums in Indonesia, It has an interesting collection of historical and cultural artifacts but is lacking in English explanations and interpreters are limited.

If you can’t make deep into the Borneo forest to visit a real Dayak longhouse you can visit a replica of longhouse in downtown Pontianak on Jalan M.T. Haryono. Also visit Gajah Mada Street for its warungs and restaurants and lively a nighttime activity. Rumah Panjang or Rumah Betang, is a traditional Dayak Iban longhouse that displays wonderful architectural features, including the stairs, carvings and ornaments. Souvenirs are found at Pasar Souvenir. The main local markets are at Pasar Tengah, Pasar Sudirman, or Pasar Flamboyan.

Accommodation in Pontianak

Here are several hotels where you can stay during your travel to Pontianak: 1) Hotel Merpati, Jl. Imam Bonjol No.111, Phone: +62 561 745481, 766588; 2) Hotel Kartika, Jl. Rahadi Osman, Phone: +62 561 734401; 3) Hotel 2000, Jl.Gajah Mada, Phone: +62 561 735062: 4) Hotel Surya, Jl. Pahlawan, Phone: +62 561 734337, 761524; 5) Hotel Sentral, Jl.HOS Tjokroaminoto, Phone: +62 561 737444; 6) Hotel Wijaya Kusuma, Jl. Kapten Marsan, Phone: (0651) 732547, 732769;

7) Hotel Orient, Jl. Tanjung Pura, Phone: +62 561 731535, 732650, 736162; 8) Hotel Berlian, Jl.Tanjung Pura, Phone: (0651) 732092; 9) Hotel Muslim, Jl. Tanjung Pura, Phone: +62 561 733461; 10) Hotel Flamboyan, Jl. Tanjung Pura / Gg.Hidayah, Phone: +62 561 734945; 11) Hotel Pondok Jaya, Jl. 28 Oktober, Phone: +62 561 884234; 12) Hotel Benua Mas, Jl. 28 Oktober, Phone: +62 561 883210; 13) Hotel Mini, Jl. KH Wahid Hasyim, Phone: +62 561 730520; 14) Mahkota Hotel, Jl. P. Diponegoro 1, Singkawang 79123, Tel. +62562 31322, 31491.

Guesthouses are: 1) Nusantara, Jl. WR Soeprapt, Phone: +62 561 766188, 736181; 2) Wisma Kartika Puri, Jl. A Yani, Phone: +62 561 73470; 3) Wisma Patria, Jl. HOS Tjokroaminoto, Phone: +62 561 736063; 4) Wisma Korpri, Jl. Veteran, Tel. +62 561 765677, 765678.

Restaurants in Pontianak

Restaurants are varied, some of them are: 1) Casa de Tapz, Jalan Gajah Mada no. 158, Phone: +62 561 761 440 or 732 849; 2) Restoran Gajah Mada, Jalan Gajah Mada no. 136, Phone: +62 561 766 526 or 766 580; 3) Restoran Mutiara, +62 561 765 881; 4) Restoran Caza Suki, Jalan Nusa Indah III, Phone: +62 561 733 420; 5) Restoran Cita Rasa, Jalan KH Agus Salim no. 108 — 112, Phone: +62 561 736 355;

6) Restoran Galaherang, Jalan MT Haryono, complex GOR Pangsuma, Phone: +62 561 734 801; 7) Pondok Nelayan, Jalan Ahmad Yani, Komplex Korem 121 PD VI Tanjungpura, Phone: +62 561 747 045; 8) Restoran Amerika, Jalan H. Agus Salim, Phone: +62 561 734 119; 9) Sari Bento, Jalan A Yani, complex Museum Kalbar, Phone: 760 797; 10) Restoran Sederhana Bintaro, Jalan A Yani complex Ruko Mega Mall A-2/3, Phone: +62 561 767 726; 11) RM Al Madinah, Jalan A Yani no. 63, Phone: +62 561 710 534;

12) Ayam goreng Mbok Berek, Jalan KH Ahmad Dahlan no 73, Phone: +62 561 733 685; 13) Ayam Ulakan, Jalan Uray Bawadi no. 7, Phone: +62 561 761 991; 14) Ayam Bakar Wong Solo, Jalan Teuku Umar no. 12, Phone: +62 561 751 8147; 15) Bakmi Tebet, Jalan A Yani no. 63 C, Phone: +62 561 704 6581, 710 527; 16) Restoran Ayam Sugeban, Jalan Teuku Umar no. 59 B, Phone: 741 863; 17) Beringin, Jalan Diponegoro no. 113, Phone: +62 561 734 787; 18) RM Rio, Jalan Merdeka no. 542; 19) RM Salido, Jalan Sultan Abdurrahman no 58, Phone: +62 561 736 436; 20) Café de Splash, Jalan Teuku Umar no. 39B, Phone: +62 561 737 186,; 21) Guess Lounge and Club, Jalan Sultan Abdurrahman no. 7-9 Gd. PCC 4th floor, Phone: +62 561 733 999

Getting to Pontianak

Pontianak is accessible by air, sea, and land. By air it is easily accessible from Jakarta or Singapore and most cities in Indonesia, often with a stop in at least one city first. Supadio Airport is the main airport connecting Pontianak with the rest of the cities in and outside Kalimantan. The existing airlines that mostly have direct flights to Jakarta are: 1) Garuda Indonesia, 2) Batavia Air, 3) Sriwijaya Air, and 4) Lion Air. Supadio International airport is 18 kilometers from Pontianak city. International flights are available from Singapore on Batavia Air and Kuching in Malaysia on Malaysian Airlines. Domestic flights to Pontianak come from Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta,Pekanbaru, Semarang,Batam and other smaller cities.

The sea port is at Dwikora where PELNI boats and ferries serve commercial and other industries in the city. There are many boats that travel up and down the the Kapuas River. PELNI’s Ship sail from Jakarta and Surabaya to Pontianak. Pontianak is easy accesible from Kuching, East Malaysia via Entikong.

For travelers coming overland from Brunei, Malaysian Sarawak and Sabah, the town of Entikong is the entry point. Most travelers leave from Kuching, Malaysia, and terminate at Pontianak. Buses are available each day. Comfortable 30-seater DAMRI buses regularly ply the Pontianak-Entikong -Kuching-Brunei Darussalam route. Pontianak-Kuching takes around eight hours, with two rest stops on the way, while pushing on to Brunei, the journey takes one day and night.

In Pontianak, transportation is quite convenient to get. Taxis are found everywhere, although the angkot has outnumbered them. Taxis are operated by eight different companies. Today, many companies offer vehicles with a driver for rent. Usually, these are seven seater minivans.

Equatorial Monument in Pontianak

Among all countries in the world, only twelve straddle the Equator. While among the countless cities within those twelve countries, only one sits right on this invisible line that separates the earth's southern from the northern hemisphere: Pontianak. Pontianak has the distinction of being the only city in the world that sits right on the Equator. This is the very reason why the Equatorial monument was built here. Pontianak’s founder, Syarif Abdurrahman Alkadrie, was not aware of the significance of the city’s placement.

Using simple tools and methods, an unnamed Dutch geographer and explorer spearheaded a mission to find a city on the Equator. Eventually, in 1928, he found that only Pontianak fitted the bill. He immediately marked the spot on the river bank of Kapuas Kecil (small Kapuas) with a simple pole and an arrow. In 1998, after the monument had undergone many renovations and reconstructions, Indonesia's Agency for Applied Technology did a careful study to pinpoint the precise location of the Equator using geographic positioning system (GPS). Although the difference between the real Equator location and The Equator Monument proved to be quite considerable, it was decided to keep the Equator Monument where it was out of respect and admiration to the original team of Dutch explorers that made the original placement in 1928.

The Equatorial monument was initially built from four ironwood pillars. The ironwood was locally obtained and constructed to keep up an arrow as symbol of orientation or reference. The Dutch word: ‘EVENAAR’ is clearly written on the arrow, meaning ‘equator’. It was later recorded that a globe was affixed to it in 1930, and a Dutch officer, by the name of Herman Neijenhuis was assigned to guard the monument from 1936 to 1940. Twice a year, the shadowless sunlight occurs here, as the sun reaches its zenith on the Vernal Equinox (March 21st — 23rd), and the Autumnal Equinox (September 21st — 23rd). These bi-annual events are commemorated here as visitors and locals enjoy a five-minute shadowless moment in the best ‘hot spot’ of Borneo.

Find out about the history of the monument’s developments and renovations in a small museum inside the dome. In the museum you can buy a certificate that is printed and says officially that you visited the Equator. You can also visit corrected spot of zero degree latitude, which is still in Pontianak. It is said that at the true equator, you will tend to be more ‘balanced’ when you stand on one foot on the exact spot that is identified as being at zero degree. You can also check which way water circles down a drain or toilet to determine whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere.

To get to the Equator Monumnet take a taxi, angkot, or a private or rented car to the west bank of Pontianak. You will reach a district called Siantan. The first thing to notice is a bridge crossing the Landak River which means that you have crossed the Kapuas river and are on the other side of the city. The monument is five kilometers on the north end of the city. Due to heavy traffic along the way, the trip to the monument may take you between 30 to 40 minutes

Kapuas River

The Kapuas River is Indonesia’s longest and largest river, and one of the longest rivers in the world. it has its source at Gunung Lawit, deep in the Mueller mountain range in Central Borneo where it rushes down and then meanders 1,143 kilometers west, passing nine of West Kalimantan’s 14 districts, until it finally reaches the South China Sea, forming huge marshy delta west and southwest of Pontianak, and on which Pontianak is built. Pontianak lies directly on the equator with many canals crisscrossing it. The Kapuas divides the city in two and provides it with a vital communications link.

It is no wonder, therefore, that the Kapuas River serves as the livelihood of the region, a major waterway to reach interior towns and its major water supply. Boats with a three meter draft can navigate upriver to the town of Sintang, some 465 kilometers. inland from the mouth Kapuas. This is the gateway to the interior, home of the Dayaks. Boats with two meter draft can reach Putussibau, 902 kilometers from Pontianak. This Kapuas River should be distinguished from another Kapuas River, which starts on the other side of the same mountain range in central Borneo, but flows to the south, merging with the Barito River and discharging into the Java Sea.

The Kapuas River is the major waterway connecting the central Borneo with the western coast. The large river width and depth (up to 27 meters) support intensive cargo and passenger shipping over most of the river length. Logging and rafting of timber occur all along the river. Fishing is also common, especially at the Kapuas Lakes and near the river delta. The Tayan Bridge, opened in 2016, crosses over the river and is the longest bridge in Kalimantan.

Scenes in and along the river include massive cargo boats, roaring speedboat, floating empty canoes, stilt houses along the riversides, mothers bathing their kids, hardworking fishermen, and colorful floating markets with old women sitting at the stern of noisy dinghies.

Traveling on the Kapuas River

Boats of all shapes and sizes travel up and down the Kapuas River. There is a good road that parallels the river between Pontianak and Putussibai but after the River is the main thorough for anyone who want to travel further into West Kalimantan. Many areas along the river have been logged at some point. One has to travel quite far to get an area that would be considered a wilderness.

From Putssibau, a town of about 30,000 people, there is access to the longhouse villages of Melapi, Sayut, Semangkok I and Semangkok II. Overnight stay sin the longhouses are possible but one has to pay for food and bring a gift. It is possible to travel deep into the forest from Ptussibau but it takes a lot of money and can not really be done without a guide. Much of the money is needed to hire boats.

To travel into the interior of Kalimantan, it is recommend that you use the services of a travel agent. Packages include transportation, overnight accommodation and meals. A number offer meals with cultural performance inside a longhouse together with the Dayak community. For more information on the “Dayak way of Life in the Heart of Borneo” check out upperkapuas.blogspot.com.

Singkawang: Borneo’s Little China

Singkawang (145 kilometers north, or a two hour drive, from Pontianak) is town that still has a large Chinese population and many Chinese influences. The second largest city in West Kalimantan province, it has a distinct oriental atmosphere with unique Chinese shophouses, delicious food. hundreds of Chinese temples, at almost every corner of town. About 70 percent of Singkawang’s population is of Chinese descent. Most are Hakka with some Teochew. Others residents are Malays, Dayaks and other Indonesian ethnic groups.

In the 18th century, West Borneo lured many from mainland China to the gold mines at Monterado (today called the Bengkayang district). The Chinese came by the thousands, and on their way there they used to overnight in Singkawang. Many settled here, especially after the gold played out, and married local Dayak women. Their descendants form the majority population of Singkawang. One of the oldest Chinese temples in Singkawang is the Tri Dharma Bumi Raya temple, established in 1878 and dedicated to the god of the forest, or Tua Peh Kong.

Normally a quiet city, Singkawang comes alive each Chinese New Year and reaches its climax on Cap Goh Meh, or the fifteenth day of Chinese New Year, closing the celebrations. For this event, Chinese from around the region, including those from Java and Sumatra but also from Singapore and Malaysia flock to Singkawang to celebrate the event with family and friends.

During these celebrations Tatung or Chinese shamans perform rituals and display their supernatural prowess — doing things like piercing their bodies with sharp objects — in front of crowds with thousands gathered along the streets, while remaining totally unharmed. Before performing their feats the shaman pray for blessing at the temple of Toa Peh Kong. Famous Tatungs bend a sharp sword with their abdomen

Singkawang is also famous for its food centres which come alive at night. Most popular is the Pasar Hongkong, where you can find a large variety of food, including porridge, nasi lemak, Rujak Ju Hie (hot fruit salad with dried squid) a specialty of Singawang, and tofu Singkawang. The city also has many coffee shops known as Kopi Tiam.

Since Singkawang has no airport, you must first fly to Pontianak then continue to Singkawang by private car, taxi or public bus. Singkawang has few hotels, most are in the non-star category, a short list of which is given below: 1) Hotel Mahkota (***), Jl. Diponegoro No. 1 Tel: (0562) 631244, 631308 Fax: (0562) 631491, E mail: hmskalbar@plasa.com or hmskalbar@telkom.net, Facilities: coffee shop, discotheque, swimming pool, meeting rooms, tennis court; 2) Hotel Paseban (melati), Jl. Ismail Tahir No. 41, Tel: (0562) 631449, 636758 Fax: (0562) 632021; 3) Hotel Prapatan (melati), Jl. Sejahtera No. 1, Tel: (0562) 636888, 631067 Fax: (0562) 632664; 4) Hotel Khatulistiwa I (melati), Jl. Selamat Karman No. 17 Tel: (0562) 631697

Near Singkawang

For recreation, locals go to Pasir Panjang Beach (or Long Beach), 17 kilometers from the center of the city. Besides enjoying the beautiful tranquil scenery, the beach also offers beach activities including boat rental, water bikes, go-karts, souvenir shops and plenty of food stalls.

Singkawang is also famous for its Chinese ceramics, still produced in the old style with “antique” designs. The center for ceramics is at Sa Kok, seven kilometers. from Singkawang. Ceramics made in Singkawang are very popular on Java and can be bought in many parts of Jakarta and Surabaya. It also worth making a a stop in Mempawah, a clean and quiet town known for its street of food sellers, wonderfully colored Buddhist temple, and friendly people drinking coffee at street corners in the afternoons. Pantai Pasir Panjang on the way to Singkawang is worth visiting as you may want to see Chinese fishermen and their catch.

Really Long Dayak Longhouses

Saham (158 kilometers. from Pontianak) is a village with a longhouse that is 186 meter long and six meters wide, and is inhabited by around 270 people. There are other really long longhouses with a large number of families. The longhouse at Putussibau, in the upper region of the Kapuas river, for example, has 54 cubicles, called bilik, for as many families. There is one long veranda set aside for communal meetings, rituals, ceremonies, cultural performances or other common activities, where daily, women may be seen busy weaving and the men carving their intricate woodwork. The longhouse provides shelter and builds a framework for continuous, informal contacts and harmonious social relations.

In these houses, each family is assigned the tasks of taking care of communal safety, each must be involved in ceremonies and rituals. In all, there is a division of labour but also emphasis is on cooperation. Nevertheless, distinction is still made between aristocrats and commoners. The leader is positioned in the center of the house, with the lowest ranking on the outer side near the entrance

The original longhouses are dispersed in various places, but most heavily concentrated in the district of Sunge Uluk Apalin, at Melapi, Semangkok, Sungai Utik, and at the Bukung district, all in the Kapuas Hulu Region, or the Upper Kapuas. If you can’t make to one of these places at visit a replica longhouse has been built for visitors in downtown Pontianak on Jalan M.T. Haryono.

When you take a river cruise to the Danau Sentarum National Park or the Betung Kerihun National Park, you must definitely stop by and see some longhouses on the banks along along the river. To travel into the interior of Kalimantan, we recommend that you use the services of a travel agent. A list appears in “Find Travel Agent”. Packages include transportation, overnight accommodation and meals. A number offer meals with cultural performance inside a longhouse together with the Dayak community. For more information on the Dayak way of Life in the Heart of Borneo, log on to upperkapuas.blogspot.com.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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