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5 things to know about Kayan river, North Kalimantan

While in Sarawak we have Batang Kayan river in Lundu, in North Kalimantan they have their own Kayan river too.

North Kalimantan borders the Malaysian states of Sabah to the north and Sarawak to the west, and by the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan to the south.

Although they both flow on the same island of Borneo, both rivers are located at the opposite sides of each other.

Malaysia’s Batang Kayan is at the western tip of Sarawak while Indonesia’s Kayan river flows in the north eastern side of Kalimantan.

Here are 5 things to know about North Kalimantan’s Kayan river:
The view of Kayan river during sunrise.
1.Kayan river stretches for 576km.

Sarawak’s Batang Kayan is 125km long while the one in North Kalimantan province is way longer at 576km. It flows from Mount Ukeng, passing Tanjung Selor city and discharges into Sulawesi Sea.

Tanjung Selor city is the capital of North Kalimantan province and also the capital of Bulungan regency.

2.It is the main transportation route for the peoples in inland regions of North Kalimantan.
River transportations such as this speed boat plays an important role for the people who lived along Kayan river.

Most of the settlements in North Kalimantan are not well connected with road networks. So the communities living particularly in Malinau and Bulungan regencies use river transportation such as traditional boats and speedboats to commute.

The ports in Tarakan offer ferry transportation services to Tanjung Selor around the clock from morning to evening via Kayan river.

Plus, it is the main route for goods and other supplies to enter this inland regions of North Kalimantan.

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Otherwise, most of North Kalimantan residents, especially those who live at the Sabah-Sarawak border may rely on trading with Malaysia for supplies.

3.It was named after the Kayan people who live along the river.
The river was named after the Kayan people who lived along the river.

In Kalimantan, the Kayan people live along the upper Kayan and the middle Kapuas and Mahakam rivers.

Meanwhile in Sarawak, they settled along the Baram, Balui, Belaga, Tubau rivers.

4.Along the Kayan river was where the Sultanate of Bulungan reigned.

Speaking of the Kayan people, here comes an interesting story of how the ethnogenesis of Bulungan people was formed.

Long time ago, there was a group of Kayan people from Uma Apan in the interior region of Apo Kayan highlands.

They expanded their territory and then settled down near the east coast of Kalimantan.

Around 1650, a princess of the group married a man from Brunei. The marriage founded a Hindu lineage which settled in Tanjung Selor.
About a century later, the dynasty converted to Islam and the rulers took the title of Sultan.

The last Sultan Jalaluddin passed away in 1958 and the Sultanate was subsequently abolished in 1959. Now the territory is a kabupaten or regency.

5. It is one of the main rivers flowing through Kayan Mentarang National Park
Kayan Mentarang National Park is accessible by longboats via Kayan river.

Located at the border between Indonesia and Malaysia, Kayan Mentarang National Park is one of the few places in Borneo which is densely forested.

It is also a fundamental site to the WWF Heart of Borneo. It is an initiative which aims to protect the transboundary biodiversity of Borneo.

Animals found in the park include Malayan pangolin, long-tailed macaque, Bornean gibbon, clouded leopard, different kinds of hornbills and many more.

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So if you are heading to the park via Kayan river, you might be lucky to appreciate some of these endangered species along the way.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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