Wednesday morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading up river into Kumai where our friends and cruise mates, Ute and Hans from the catamaran "Taimada" were already waiting for us. We met them via Bernd and Tanja of "s/y Upps" who were originally booked to do this tour with us but were not able to participate in the rally this year. All along the river we passed tugs boats pulling barges loaded with large trees on their way out to the paper mills.
As we neared the town of Kumai the air became thicker with smoke and ash. We later discovered this is the result of the palm oil producers burning fields and undergrowth. There is an entire environmental war being waged here between those trying to preserve and protect the natural beauty and delicate ecosystem of Borneo from the palm oil manufacturers who are absolutely raping these lands. That is a whole other story that I won't go into but one that is a very painful story to hear. We are fortunate to be able to make this trip before it is all laid to waste.
Once anchored we contacted Noval who is providing the services for our two-day trip up the river. He stopped by with an entourage of about 5 minions who giggled and walked around our boat taking pictures of themselves (cute, really). After he gave us the information & instructions we needed for the tour tomorrow, he quickly departed promising to see us bright and early at 7:00 AM. We spent the rest of the day getting Destiny ready to be left for two days, then while I packed for the trip Frank took a quick dinghy ride around the anchorage. This is an extremely busy port. Along the shore were rows and rows of what appeared to be tall concrete warehouses. He learned these have been built to attract the small Swiftlets (aka, Barn Swallows) that painstakingly build their nests from their own saliva, over a period of three months, only to be harvested by humans for the delicacy that is known in many Asian restaurants as Bird's Nest Soup. Poor little birds! For tourists and visitors, however, the big attraction here is a trip up the river to see the Orangutans. According to our reference material Borneo and Sumatra are the only places on Earth that claim home to these amazing primates.