There is a large population of Muslims on Kalimantan and it seems like there is a beautiful and brightly colored mosque on every block. During prayer hours the mosques call to prayer from loudspeakers on tall towers. The sound is kind of pleasant from a distance but when you're close to the buildings its hard to hear anything else!
Kumai isn't a popular tourist destination and only a few of the locals speak a small amount of English even though lots of tourists come to the island of Borneo to see its ecology. Because of this we usually create quite a scene just when walking down the street. Everybody greets us with a 'Hey mister!' as we walk by, whether from their store, house, or as they whiz by on a motorbike. Children are especially enthusiastic about saying hello and waving to us. Going for a walk around town can feel more like walking in a parade!
One interesting thing about this town is that it has a booming swallow industry. There are giant bird houses that look like small hotels scattered around, and many more under construction. They are made of cement, unpainted, and have small holes in the walls for ventilation. When the houses are finished being constructed they cool the building with air conditioners to attract swallows to build communities there. During dawn and dusk the swallows swarm around their homes by the hundreds feeding on insects, chirping and screeching loudly. It's actually kind of eerie to look up and see them swarming above you. The swallow houses are built so that their nests can be collected and sold to places like China where they are made into a soup which is considered a delicacy. One bowl of swallow-nest soup can cost $40-$100 US dollars!
The river is wide here where we are anchored and there is a lot of activity on the water. Canoes paddle by, tiny speedboats zoom past, larger canoes with loud motors slowly pass by, houseboats taking tourists into the orangutan park slowly cross the river, large ferries transport people and vehicles, and larger barges and fishing vessel make the trip between the town and the ocean. Meanwhile the river current is constantly changing with the tides.