There are numerous cities and towns you can visit in the province of Kalimantan and one of my favourites is Banjarmasin. The largest city in Kalimantan, the place is a fascinating labyrinth of canals and waterways offering the visitor some amazing experiences. Many of the waterways are used for travel, using relatively small rowboats and canoes although the latter one doesn’t see that often these days. Banjarmasin is a hectic city of trade, not only for the locals, but for businesses also. An important deepwater port, Pelabuhan Trisakti Banjarmasin, is the trade centre of exports and where passenger ships and ferries to and from Java also carry their operation here. But it’s not only these waterways that hold fascination for the visitor it is also an historical city with outstanding architecture. There are actually12 types of the traditional Banjarese house which have unfortunately, lost their popularity in the modern days.
Here are a few places that I found fascinating:
1. Kampung Kraton: Unfortunately the Dutch pit paid to most of this magnificent building and its grounds during the occupation of the archipelago, however, you can still visit it remnants and it is here you can see the 300 year old Masjid Sultan Suriansyah. This was the first Mosque in South Kalimantan and built during the rule of Pangeran Samudera. There is also a royal burial site.
2. Masjid Raya Sabilal Muhtadin: The intricately adorned interior of this giant modern mosque that was completed in 1981 will astound you and it’s the second largest in Indonesia. It is a tranquil place set in lawn grounds.
3. Museum Waja Sampai Ka Putting: At one time this was an old Banjarese traditional house in the style of Bubungan Tinggi. Interesting collection of artifacts will hold your interest here.
4. Floating Markets: Get yourself an early start with this site as it trades is from dawn until around 9am. The canoes bounding off each other on the waters are a colourful plethora of foods from the area being traded and haggled over. Journey takes around 20 minutes by boat. The one great thing about this floating market is that you can sit at one of the cafes along the waters edge and the boats will come to you from which you can select your breakfast!.
5. Pulau Kembang: Translated it means ‘flower island’. Here you can visit the long-tailed macaques at a rather decrepit looking Chinese temple and you can buy nuts to feed them, however, the monkeys are quite aggressive and will try to steal it from you so be extra careful.
6. Pulau Kaget: A great place to see the famous Proboscis Monkey. There is no guarantee that you will see them though as they are really shy. But that is part of exploring anywhere — surprises happen.
Getting There: The airport at Banjarmasin is called Syamsudin Noor Airport and is located roughly about 25 km outside of town. Garuda Airlines has the most flights into this airport from Jakarta, Surabaya and Balikpapan but many other airlines are also servicing the route due to the increased tourism on Kalimantan.
Photo Credit: www.balifilm.com