Scenes from Kumai

In June 2013, our family made an unforgettable journey up tributaries of the Kumai river in Borneo: these photos illustrate a longer-form piece that tells the story of our experience.

Traditional livelihoods and modern industry meet on the Kumai river.

Adventures in Borneo

Trading one floating home for another: leaving Totem behind, and stepping onto the klotok for our adventure upriver.

Adventures in Borneo

The girls look up bird sightings in their field guide.

Adventures in Borneo

Winding upriver, it becomes narrower and narrower.

Adventures in Borneo

Some of the first river-borne visitors we hoped to keep on the outside of the boat.

Adventures in Borneo

Training our eyes to find for the signs of life at the river’s edge.

Adventures in Borneo

Here, the river is the main thoroughfare for transportation to points inland: the blue signage is the waterway equivalent of a roadsign, indicating the intersection of a tributary.

Adventures in Borneo

The incomparable spectacle of the alpha orangutan.

Adventures in Borneo

A reminder of our earthly clumsiness.

Adventures in Borneo

The dark water is a natural side effect of the tannic biomass around the river.

Adventures in Borneo

By contrast, this milky water shows at the point where the clean river meets one that’s polluted with mercury-tainted runoff from an illegal mine. Siobhan sits at the bow of the klotok.

Adventures in Borneo

At night, our little wooden boat was side tied to trees; we were tucked into our mosquito netted wombs, and listened to the call of animals in the inky night.

Adventures in Borneo

It’s quite a look he gives.

Adventures in Borneo

Proboscis monkeys followed us, jumping across the river as the boat passed: they’ve learned that crocodiles are less likely to attack when the water is disturbed by a passing vessel.

Adventures in Borneo

Like multitasking parents everywhere, this mama Proboscis travels with her baby cluched to her chest.

Adventures in Borneo

Who watches whom?

Adventures in Borneo

Feed bags at the rehabilitation centers reflect the dayak culture of the user: traditional bark straps attached to the plastic mesh bags make for strong, comfortable carrying.

Adventures in Borneo

Our floating nemesis was a study in further tragedy: the limited options of the desperately poor. We were probably set up for the trap, by fishermen who wore rags for clothes.

Adventures in Borneo

A look through Google Earth at the unnatural regularity of palm oil plantations in satellite images.

Adventures in Borneo

Returned from our journey, Jamie poses with Yosi (and friend) on Totem.

Adventures in Borneo

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