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.
Trading one floating home for another: leaving Totem behind, and stepping onto the klotok for our adventure upriver.
The girls look up bird sightings in their field guide.
Winding upriver, it becomes narrower and narrower.
Some of the first river-borne visitors we hoped to keep on the outside of the boat.
Training our eyes to find for the signs of life at the river’s edge.
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.
The incomparable spectacle of the alpha orangutan.
A reminder of our earthly clumsiness.
The dark water is a natural side effect of the tannic biomass around the river.
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.
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.
It’s quite a look he gives.
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.
Like multitasking parents everywhere, this mama Proboscis travels with her baby cluched to her chest.
Who watches whom?
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.
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.
A look through Google Earth at the unnatural regularity of palm oil plantations in satellite images.
Returned from our journey, Jamie poses with Yosi (and friend) on Totem.