Nondescript board walk town on the way further upstream the Mahakam River
Muara Pahu is not more than one street, or rather, one long board walk, at the mouth of and along the Paho River, another Mahakam tributary upstream from Muara Muntai. Shops, a wooden mosque, some restaurants, and houses, all along the board walk. Some of the planks of the board walk are loose, to the effect that not only the obligatory motorbikes, but even I, walking alone, emulate the sound of a tank passing.
There is not much happening in the village. Water level is high, like in all the other places we have been to along the Mahakam, which affects, among other things, the outdoor table tennis court – although it doesn’t stop the youth from playing! Many other parts of the village are also underwater, but the people aren’t too concerned, obviously, this happens more often.
The river near Muara Pahu is, supposedly, home to the freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins, but with so much debris, and rubbish, in the river, it is impossible to spot which hump on the surface is a dolphin’s head, and which is not. I take it that none of them were, as the Irrawaddy dolphin, like in so many other places where they occur, have a tough time surviving, partly from getting entangled in nets, but also because of the pollution from boats and from mining.
For us Muara Pahu is not more than a stop on the way, further upstream. For Carl Bock, who traveled Kalimantan and the Mahakam River in 1879 (see Indonesia reading list), it was the furthest he came on the main river, because any further would risk exposing oneself to head-hunting practices and cannibalism. Times have changed!
The Virtual Tour continues upriver to Melak.