Hi everyone! Hannah here, I have decided to start this blog on our website to share about our experiences on our recent trip to Borneo. This trip was truly the trip of a life time. We met some amazing people and were lucky enough to see the amazing flora and fauna that the East Kilmantan area of Borneo has to offer. I hope you enjoy my account of our experiences and learning about Indonesian culture.
Traveling to Berau, Borneo
Our total flight time was just over 25 hours. That's a lot of sitting for two people who aren't used to sitting all day. We had several layovers and got to spend the night in Seoul, South Korea on the way to Berau.
After leaving Seoul, we flew to Jakarta, Indonesia. Jakarta is HUGE. It has a population of 9 million people, and it's growing.
From Jakarta, we flew Borneo! Getting to see Borneo from the plane for the first time was a very exciting moment for us. The island is absolutely breath taking from the air. First we flew in to Balikpapan and then to Berau. Once we were in Berau, we took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. However, due to language barriers, we ended up at the wrong hotel the first time. (Who knew there would be two Palmy hotels so close together?!) We had to get another ride to the correct hotel, which was a little more difficult than it sounds because the guy working the desk could not understand us and we did not realize we were in the wrong place initially. Finally after we got everything figured out and we got to the hotel, we were exhausted from traveling so we got some food and sleep for the rest of the day.
Our First day in Berau!
The next day we woke up early and grabbed some breakfast. We ended up meeting one of the other people who would be joining us on the expedition at breakfast and decided to go walk around the town. Admittedly, I was a little nervous walking around in another country where I was unfamiliar with the culture and language. This was my first time traveling outside of the United States. But y'all, the people of Indonesia are incredible! They were so friendly!
Everyone wanted to say hello to us. Many children followed us all throughout the city and a few women asked to take a picture with me. It was a truly incredible first glimpse at Indonesian culture. I have never experienced anything like it in my life. I imagine its kind of how it would feel to be famous (please lol with me at the idea of me ever being famous). After all, it's kind of hard to blend in when you are the only white woman walking around the streets of Berau.
We walked to the river and down the market streets and almost everyone had a small shop or business in front of their house. There was food everywhere! There were little food carts all along the road next to the river, many restaurants in the front of people's homes, and huge fruit stands with all kinds of fruit.
We also saw a couple of beautiful mosques. In the region we were in, there is a large population of Muslims. Islam spread to Borneo unintentionally through trading on the coasts. Many women wear hijabs, however this is not government regulated, they chose to wear the hijabs to honor their religion. There is also a large Christian population in the more inner regions of Borneo. Christianity was brought to the inner regions by missionaries. Most of the places we visited seemed to be about 50/50.
After our first day exploring the town, our excitement about the expedition was at an all time high. That evening, we joined everyone who was attending the expedition for dinner. We got to meet everyone that was going on the trip and discuss the plans for the next few days.
Here are a couple bonus pictures!
A sign in our hotel. No durian allowed! (Yes, we tried durian but you have to wait for that story! lol)
There were lots of cats and dogs running around. This is one we found hanging out on a bridge.
Some people had birds in front of their homes or shops. This seemed to be the most common kept in this area. It is a type of leaf bird found on Borneo.
Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more blog post about our adventures in Borneo. This trip was beyond incredible and I am grateful that I have a platform that I can share about it from.