Before huge swaths of Borneo were aggressively carved up to make way for palm-oil plantations and voracious logging, the whole island looked something like the Meratus Mountains. This 2,500sqkm range in southern Kalimantan has mist-laced, river-crossed peaks, dense jungles, steep valleys and jagged karst formations. They are also heavily populated with Borneo’s indigenous people, the Dayak, whose strong religious customs play to the soundtrack of the shaman’s drum.
With the Dayak’s history of headhunting and animism, few places on earth are as wrapped in such rugged mysticism. Indeed very little has changed in the last century: swidden (slash and burn) farming and ancient customs are still observed, and the shaman still holds sway in most villages, despite the presence of mobile phones and satellite TV.
A homestay will most likely include a tour of the longhouse, where as many as thirty families used to live together under the same roof. Nowadays, villagers often have their own, separate houses, but the longhouse is still the nucleus of the village, where ceremonies and celebrations take place and prayers are made at the spirit altar.
If you are lucky, you may be able to see the village pembeliatn (shaman) at work. His job is to identify the bad spirits that are attaching themselves to the juus (soul) of a person, and by placing himself in a trance he is able to purify the afflicted soul. Also sought in times of marital distress and for blessings, the shaman is the link between the tangible and the mysterious forces lurking in the forest.
If you stay the night, it is likely you will be offered accommodation in the stilted longhouse, sleeping on a thin mattress and eating whatever food is offered to you. Children and adults often ask to see photos of your family back home, so make sure you have your camera with you. But if you want to take pictures, ask permission first.
Enjoying live in Loksado, the Dayak’s village (native people of Kalimantan/Borneo). A village that is placed in Hulu Sungai Selatan counties, 140 km away from Banjarmasin city. You will interact with the Dayak people, watch their religious ceremony at Balai Adat (community pavilion), and the rattan handicrafts making. In the afternoon you will be invited to ripple down the fast-flowing of Amandit river riding a bamboo raft. Along the way you will be treated to a view of the lush forests of Borneo. You will also be invited to visit two waterfalls around the Loksado village, ie Hanai waterfall and three-tiered Haratai waterfall. Please also get involved in the process of making “dodol” – the sticky rice cake -, the original/traditional cakes of Hulu Sungai Selatan counties.
Watching the Loksado Dayak’s religious ceremony at Balai Adat (community pavilion), and the rattan handicrafts making. Viewing the beauty of the Borneo rainforest. Visiting two waterfalls around the Loksado village, ie Hanai waterfall and three-tiered Har.
How to Get There
The highway is paved all the way from Banjarmasin to Kandangan, but from Kandangan capital of Hulu Sungai Selatan Regency) the road narrows considerably. There is no public transportation from Banjarmasin or elsewhere, except from Kandangan but even this is not frequent. If your starting point is Banjarmasin, your best bet to reach Loksado is by renting car with driver. The trip itself will take approximately 4-5 hours.
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