The more you explore Indonesia, the more you realize that you know little about Indonesia because of the richness of its culture. Several days ago I visited Banjarmasin, one of the cities in Kalimantan Island for the first time. It was my first visit to places outside Java, Sumatera, and Bali Islands of Indonesia.
The purpose of this travel was not for vacation though, but for data collection required for a study for my work. For 4 days I had to collect as much as possible information about kinds of infrastructure needed by small-middle enterprises producing creative handcrafts. This study is as a response to the Presidential Regulation No. 6/2010 about Development of Creative Economy focusing on creativity of individuals. This presidential regulation is mandating for all ministries, including Ministry of Public Works in which I am working in, to support creative industries located all over Indonesia. Banjarmasin was then chosen to be visited as this city is a location in which lots of creative industries are taking place.
As I arrived late in the afternoon, after being picked up in the airport, my friends took me to a restaurant, named Cendrawasih, offering many kinds of freshwater fishes, as Banjarmasin is known as a City with Thousands of Rivers. After having chats with them, I decided to check in to the Hotel named Batung Batulis located in the center of the city close to the institutions/councils in which I would be doing interview and data collection.
On the next day, half day was full of interviews with some officials in the councils and secondary data collection. That sounds not so much fun, does it? But finished with councils, I visited a home industry producing traditional cloths called Kain Sasirangan to ask them questions about kinds of infrastructure needed to develop the Kain Sasirangan industry. Kain Sasirangan is a traditional cloth/costume with unique colors. I was shown the way they made it. First, they drew a pattern on a white fabric, then they started sewing on certain parts of the fabric and made lots of nodes on it, they colored using certain colors, then dried it, and opened the sewing. To make it beautiful and colorful, they colored the nodes of the sewed fabrics with different colors so that when you open the nodes and sewing, there will be at least two colors with the continuing pattern.
Finished with the visit, the rest of the day I spent with walking along the Martapura River, called Siring Sungai Martapura, in which you can enjoy afternoon activities on the river. I also did some walkings to take some pictures of traditionally architectural buildings and parks. The day was ended with a dinner in a restaurant close to the hotel and a walk along Tarakan Street in which you can enjoy corns cooked with traditional way.
Day – three was my favorite as I traveled to two home industries, a rattan handicraft making industry and a rush handicraft making industry. Even though it took 4 hours one way to get to the industries from the city center, it was a lot of fun because I could see and enjoy many different views outside the car’s windows as I was having chats with the driver who was the local citizen. The travel was not only challenged by a very long distance, but also poor condition of the roads and bridges along the way. To develop the small middle industries in that area, the government needs to improve the capacity and physical condition of the road and bridges.
Arrived on the intended home industry, I had chats with the owner of one of home industries. There are couples of rush handicraft making industries in that area. Making handicrafts from rush (grasslike plants) actually is not their main job. All the rush craftsmen are farmers, while handicrafts making activities are done when they have free time or if there are orders. The ability to craft is inherited from their great-grandfathers and they continue to preserve that tradition besides to earn more money from the selling.
Much the same with the rush craftsman, rattan craftsman is also occupying the home industry as a side job to earn more money and to preserve their ability to craft. Their simple life as farmers and craftsmen does not make them unhappy of their life. When I interviewed them, they didn’t make many complaints of their job, condition, etc, as urban citizens often do. They had lots of smiles and laughs while we were having chats. I learned many things from them. Before I was taking leave to Banjarmasin, they gave me some handicrafts as souvenirs so that I can always remember my visit to that place.
On the way back to Banjarmasin, we came by a small restaurant offering duck cooked with traditional way; unfortunately I forget the name of the area! And finally arrived at hotel at 10.30 pm. It was a tiring journey, but for sure great as well!
The fourth day was the final day. Morning was spent with visit to the floating market, called Pasar Terapung. Unlike usual market, Pasar Terapung is a market in which transactions are made on the Martapura River. Using boats, people are selling and buying goods on that river. You can only reach the market using rented small boats called ‘klotok’. Make sure you make a good bargain with the owner of the ‘klotok’. This klotok is not only used to reach Pasar Terapung, but also to travel along the river and to reach some interesting stops before you end the river journey.
3 hours before checking in to the airport, I was spending my last hours in Martapura Market. This market is a place in which you can find all handicrafts and souvenirs of South Kalimantan. Diamond is one of the best crafts to be bought in Martapura, as Martapura is known as a city producing diamonds. Make sure you find the original ones and good bargains.
The 3 and half day journey then was ended with an incident in the airport. I was late checking in! However, computer problems of the ticketing made a delay on processing tickets and that condition saved me! At that moment I was very thankful for the computer errors instead of complaining as I sometimes do! Yea, bad condition should not always be cursed, but thanked for!