THE DISPATCHES: Lindsay Daigle, David Hall, Matilde Kamiya and Toshi Okubo

Building case studies to match village life, timber and crocodiles

Day 13: Saturday
Ade called us around 9 a.m. to say that for once we could not use the NRM office, so he came over to the hotel to meet us. We started work in the hotel lobby but the constant flow of people and the noise from amateur piano players forced us into renting a room in the business center.

The best thing about this room was the air conditioning. The worst was that by the end of the day we had had spent a total of 12 hours sitting in it working – on a Saturday! Who said students have easy lives?!?!

Dave leads a review session
Dave (at the white board) leads a review session. (Photo by Lindsay Daigle)
We kicked off with a review of our work so far. The feedback from Ade was pretty positive, which was a relief, but we still had many loose ends to tie up. By the end of this project we'll all be superstars with Powerpoint if nothing else!

Lunch was Pizza Hut again, because it was either that or the expensive hotel food. The Samarinda Pizza Hut does a mean black pepper Pizza that was devoured pretty quickly!

In the afternoon, Adi and Nasir returned and we went through the first of the case studies in Indonesian. Ade translated for us, but it was soon clear that there was no way we would be able to train the farmers through a translator, so the SHK guys took it upon themselves to lead the sessions. Phew – another minor headache overcome!

Adi and Nasir had done some excellent work, and the case studies were highly relevant and would definitely stretch the audience. We had decided that the most important things for us to achieve were to make sure that:

  • the farmers could enter numbers into the right places on financial books;
  • they could add up the correct numbers to calculate monthly and yearly;
  • they could look back at the numbers and perform some basic analysis.

The cases went way beyond this but really reflected the reality of life in the villages. It will be interesting to see what the farmers think!

After Adi and Nasir had departed to get on with their Saturdays, we stayed behind and revisited the business plan with Ade. It has to be said that we have yet to meet a more dedicated person in their job. He really cares very much about the well-being of the farmers and the success of the business, and that is very motivational for us!

Yoga turned up around 6 p.m. with a new haircut, but we had to plow on through. He slinked off and reappeared back at the hotel around 8:30, this time with his hair dyed as well! Finally we wrapped up around 9 and headed for food and the obligatory Bintang Indonesian beer before an early bedtime!

The dam
Tengarong's much-talked-about dam turned out to be underwhelming, holding in a small but pretty pond. (Photo by David Hall)
Day 14: Sunday
Today we took a trip to Tengarong in the morning and hung out in Samarinda in the afternoon. Tengarong is a funny place. It was the capital of the Kutai kingdom and is a rich oil city now. We had heard about the museum and how proud the local people were of its exhibits, so that was our first port of call.

The museum contained exhibits on the Dayak communities of old, the former Dutch colonial times and information on the Kutanese Sultanate over the years. Most of what was on exhibit matched closely with what we saw in the villages.

The next step was our viewing of a famous dam; however, it would be much more accurate to call it a famous pond! While walking around the pond we came across an orchid garden that contained many different species of orchid, but very very few in flower, which was a bit of a shame as they had a large collection of black flowered orchids.

After the dam we went up the road to the timber museum, where the most interesting exhibit was not timber history but a stuffed 70-year-old, 7-meter-long crocodile that had been killed in 1996 after eating a local woman. We'd heard of this croc before. Apparently one of the villagers in Melak had once been a crocodile hunter and used to catch crocs for their skin. When the woman was eaten, he went to the river and 'talked' to the crocodiles to figure out which one was the guilty animal. The naughty croc stepped forward and was promptly killed, while the others were left alone. While it's highly unlikely that this story was correct, the croc and the picture of a woman's arms and legs inside its stomach tended to suggest that this was once a mean beasty!

After the timber museum we headed back to Samarinda for lunch and a little souvenir shopping. Rahim, our translator, took us to a local lampit (rattan mat) shop by the river and we chose some mats to take back to Berkeley. Unfortunately, our bargaining prowess in Indonesian is limited, and despite Rahim negotiating a 20 percent discount, Dave especially felt a little upset that we had not been able to get a better deal. Still, under $6 for a 4 by 6-foot rattan mat isn't a bad price!

 Matilde napping on the boat
Matilde, champion napper, catches a few winks on the trip upriver. (Photo by David Hall)

After this hard negotiation it was time for a nap. Matilde, as usual, slept easily. In fact, this was her third nap of the day, which by 4 p.m. was a record – not in terms of maximum number of naps, but because she had only fallen asleep three times. Usually she would snooze whenever she got into a car, and as a result she slept through almost all journeys in Kalimantan!

We decided to check out the local market later on in the afternoon. Lindsay felt that her tan needed more work, so stayed by the pool, but the rest of the team headed off to bargain hunt. We did not know until we got there that the market was a "basic needs" market, meaning that it was just food and a few basic household items. The first thing that hit you was the stench. There was raw meat everywhere, unrefrigerated and mixed up with fruits and other foods. Also, we were the only non-Indonesians anywhere. "Hello Mister" was a regular greeting, and after about 10 minutes of "interesting" sightseeing, we decided to leave the basic needs alone and head to the shopping mall (again!). The market experience again underlined the polarization of the area, as this was where the poorer people shopped, while the Western-style malls contained Western-style supermarkets for the middle classes. Entering the local market was like stepping back into the past a couple of hundred years. While it was an interesting experience, we were glad that we had the good fortune to live permanently in countries where even the basic standards of living and food hygiene are pretty good.