DixPix Photographs

     

INDONESIAN ARCHIPELAGO

 
     
  BOATS AND RIVERS  

 

As this archipelago is a group of islands in a high rainfall zone, boats are clearly an important means of transport.  The author is more familiar with those of the inland rivers, than with the inter-island shipping.  Let's start with a festive occasion.  At the town of Teluk kuantan (also written Taluk kuantan) on the Kuantan (upper Indragiri) River in Sumatra, the races of 50-man and 100-man canoes called Jalurs is about to begin. By and large, each represents a town or village, so there are a lot of egos on the line.

 

Both banks of the river are crowded, and team banners are waving.  This is a yearly event, called the Pacu Jalur, held on August 17th, Indonesian Indepenence Day. Click to see big picture (640x471 pixels; 99 KB)
First the 50_man jalur events.  Two canoes race in each heat, the winners go on to the next level, etc. Click to see big picture (640x377 pixels; 108 KB)
At the back of each boat there is a colorful character, who seems to be trying to control things.  There is also one person with an oar beside him trying to steer the boat. Click to see big picture (640x386 pixels; 110 KB)
And here come the 100-man heavy-weights.  These seem to have someone standing in the center with a bull-horn or other items, as well as a chap squatting in front, perhaps to watch out for obstacles. Click to see big picture (640x257 pixels; 82 KB)
Here is a closer look at an end-man and a center-man.  The latter appears to be looking into a mirror, but I suspect it is some sort of a drum.
This pair seem to be going in different directions, but the red-shirts are clearly ahead.  I doubt that most of these jalurs actually have a full hundred man crew, but it is impressive. Click to see big picture (640x441 pixels; 138 KB)
And the winner by almost a boat length has a costumed chap bravely standing on the prow. Click to see big picture (640x308 pixels; 86 KB)
Here, near the town of Baserah, one of these great racing Jalurs is being carved from a single tree. Click to see big picture (640x423 pixels; 127 KB)
Compare this with the simple task of making a utility dugout on the banks of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. Click to see big picture (328x480 pixels; 83 KB)
Of course, on the Sepik, the uses of dugouts are a far cry from racing, but this type of craft is very adaptable. Click to see big picture (640x344 pixels; 92 KB)
A family dugout on Danau (Lake) Singkarak in western Sumatra. Click to see big picture (640x431 pixels; 105 KB)
And with outriggers attached, a dugout is ready for the coastal waters of northern Suluwesi. Click to see big picture (640x432 pixels; 94 KB)
By comparison, a large canoe is being constructed at an Iban Longhouse in Sarawak.   The construction is fairly traditional, but this will be powered by an outboard motor. Click to see big picture (640x362 pixels; 117 KB)
River transport is still important in this region, as many people live on riversides without road access, in this case near the Sabah-Kalimantan border. Click to see big picture (640x337 pixels; 72 KB)
Even well inland, villages often rely on the rivers for transport, as well as the necessities of everyday life. Click to see big picture (640x461 pixels; 125 KB)
That means that boats must run some fast water, especially in the rainy season, in this case on the Singini River, Sumatra. Click to see big picture (640x385 pixels; 73 KB)
This is known as getting hung up in a rapids. Click to see big picture (640x397 pixels; 98 KB)
And this is known as tying to change a shear-pin with a rock hammer. Click to see big picture (640x399 pixels; 67 KB)
In some areas, wading up creeks is the easiest way of getting around in the jungles. Click to see big picture (369x480 pixels; 91 KB)
More usually, however, the problem is crossing a stream.  Logs work for certain creeks and certain people. Click to see big picture (640x434 pixels; 106 KB)
Here, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, an ingenious bridge is made from vines and lianas. Click to see big picture (640x443 pixels; 137 KB)
But why build a bridge across an entire river, when only the deepest channel needs to be spanned. Click to see big picture (640x434 pixels; 93 KB)
And if you have enough seniority, you may not have to get your feet wet at all. Click to see big picture (640x434 pixels; 88 KB)