All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Borneo Ecotoursim

There are still large areas, of completely undisturbed, virgin jungle in Kalimantan.   I've had the wonderful opportunity to see much of it from both up high...

...and down low.

Some of it is just so unbelievably rugged, that it's completely untouchable.  There's an area south of here where the flat jungle plains end abruptly in a wall of solid, vertical stone.  It's strange.  On one side--it's flat as far as the eye can see.  And then, there's a shear wall, hundreds of feet high stretching in a perfect line for many, many miles.  And on the other side of the wall...seemingly endless, extremely sharp-looking, spires--packed together so tightly that there's absolutely no way you could navigate through there.

The only signs of people are on the very outer edges of the walls.  These rock formations are dotted by hundreds and hundreds of caves--from very small to absolutely massive in size!  A few guys come by foot a very long distance to collect birds nests from the caves that are "accessible" on the outer edge.  The small, translucent birds nests that are plucked from the high ledges of the dark caves are prized as a delicacy, eaten in soup by mostly the Chinese.  They're worth a ton of money--I'm told, more than gold by weight.

But once you get past the outer edges, it's like a scene from another planet on the "inside".

This swampy lake is totally surrounded by a fortress of those rugged pinnacles.  I have to wonder how many people, if any, have ever been there on foot?

Many of the villages we fly to are located in or near a large area of protected forest called the Kayan Mentarang National Park.  This protected area is the largest in all of Borneo, and one of the biggest protected areas in South East Asia.

It's a highly diverse and beautiful area, sporting a wide variety of both plant and animal life.

I've had the unique privilege of hiking through some of the most remote parts of this wilderness.  It's a truly beautiful place.

There are very few tourists who make it out this way...let's face it, we're a long way off the "beaten path".  And getting to Tarakan is only the starting point.  You still have to get interior, and then from there, to one of the locations from which a trek can begin.  But all of my experiences have been very memorable.  If you're interested in finding out more about this type of thing, I recommend you check out the Borneo Ecotourism Website.

You can also check out some of my posts from a few of the treks that I've taken over the past few years:

Half Alive--Borneo Trek 2011 (Part 1) - 9/13/11
Borneo Trek 2011 (Part 2) - 9/17/11
Borneo Trek 2011 (Part 3) - 9/26/11

Jungle Trek 2010 (Part 1) - 5/15/2010
Jungle Trek 2010 (Part 2) - 5/16/2010
Jungle Trek 2010 (Part 3) - 5/19/2010
Jungle Trek 2010 (Part 4) - 5/19/2010

We're Alive!  Jungle Trek Day 1 - 5/23/09
Jungle Trek Day 2 - 5/26/09
Jungle Trek Day 3 - 5/29/09
Jungle Trek 4 - 6/4/09
Jungle Trek 5 - 6/10/09

Search my blog and you can find more--trips to Lalut Birai, hunting pigs, etc. etc.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Here's a shot of an early evening thunderstorm over Tarakan this past Sunday evening.  We've been getting some real whoppers lately! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

You win some you lose some

The other day I rode along in the Kodiak as a passenger.  One of our newer Kodiak pilots was planning to do checkouts at four of our interior strips along with our chief pilot.  I was lugging around 25 lbs of camera gear with a plan to capture some of the action in both video and still shots--seeing as how most of our MAF footage of the Kodiak is outdated now that it has a pod.  

But things didn't go according to the plan.  In fact, that's a huge understatement!  I think the Chief Pilot summed it up best when he said something to the effect of, "Well, that had to be one of the least productive days of flying in all my years here."  It seemed like virtually everything that could have gone wrong did--the weather, the airstrips, the camera gear, the loading, etc. etc.  We only got one of the four checkouts done, and that one only barely happened, and I almost got left behind.  But that's a story for another day.

I'll spare you all the details, but it was a bum day photographically as well--at least as far as airplane shots went.  And it culminated with the destruction of my Canon G1X.  (Ahhh, it pains me just to mention it.)  But I digress.  Anyway, despite all of that, I did manage to grab a few random shots in the middle of all of the mayhem.  (With the 7D)  Below, the village petugas (airstrip agent) prepares the passenger loading and manifest.

If you're especially perceptive you may have noticed that in the vast majority of pictures showing people gathering and/or carrying barang (stuff) from the airplanes (on this and other posts) the people doing the carrying are most often women.  That's because it's typically considered the womens' job (among many other things!) here to do so.  The women never help to actually unload the plane--that's always done by the men and the pilot.  However, I almost never see the men actually carrying the stuff to the village (which can be quite far away in some cases).  That's almost always the women.  The lady below is preparing her pack laden with supplies from the flight to carry to the village.

The stuff has been divided into piles of approximately equal weight.  Each of the ladies will carry one pile to the village.

People gather to watch the plane, and to greet the arriving passengers and say goodbye to the departing ones.

I chose to do all the shots in B&W on this post, b/c it sort of seemed fitting for the mood of the day.  But don't feel too sorry for us.  Even on a "bad" day we still have a whole lot to be thankful for.  We all made it back safe and sound (minus my camera) and that's always a good starting point.  It's really a blessing to be able to be here serving the people of Kalimantan, even when things don't seem to go to well!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Underwater World (2 of 2)

I wish I had an underwater case for my good DSLR, along with some good lighting options.  But those are crazy expensive and well beyond my reach!  So it always proves to be a significant challenge and frustration to capture even a small glimpse into the magnificent beauty of God's creation underwater.

Above the glistening surface of this often unseen water world, a boy glides almost effortlessly towards home, his catch secured in the bottom of the home made canoe.

Below the surface, things are never so "quiet".  The water teems with life!  It's constantly changing--the color of the water, the shapes, the fish, everything is in motion.  It's overwhelming at times just to try and take it all in, let alone trying to capture it in freeze frames.  But use your imagination and you can hopefully picture the symphony of life that we got to see this time around.