Location : Lok Baintan, Kecamatan Sungai Tabuk, Kabupaten Banjar, Kalimantan Selatan, Indonesia.
The one and only floating market of Borneo. It is located at Lok Baintan of the Martapura River about 1hr of boat ride from Banjarmasin city.Most of Asia’s floating markets are held during the weekend whereas this one is a daily affair. We had to wake up before 5am before meeting our guide Tailah again at the lobby waiting.
Tailah the rugged guide
We walked to the same spot to board his partner’s boat for the 1hr ride in the dark. There was a slight drizzle along the way during the ride and the umbrella came in handy again. It was cold riding against the wet morning wind. We were unprepared for this as the absent minded Tailah never briefed us on this possibility. I suppose being too long in this business made him taking things for granted. Just to mention, along the way our boat almost rammed into another on coming boat in the dark as both were without any lighting. Luckily, our boatman was just alert enough to swerve at the very last second. Close shave. For your information, no safety vests were provided during all our trips with him. This is something the Banjarmasin Tourism Board should be enforcing on all tour operators.
Anyway, when we arrived at Lok Baintanwe could figure in the dark there were at least some 50 boats gathering and slowly as dawn was breaking more and more boats join in out of nowhere. All the ‘paddling peddlers’ were women! We later noticed the buyers who were mostly men came to buy in bulk in bigger boats. It was interesting to watch in the midst of their ‘paddling dealing’ they had to constantly fight the river current to stay intact with the group. Smell of food was in the morning air. The idea of breaking fast on a boat was too good to forgo and it was easy as several of the boats were actually floating little cafes catering to buyers/sellers as well as tourists like us.
Coffee with dough ball
We bought oranges, soursop and the pink guavas were the best I ever tasted. Not surprising considering the fact that their farmlands are blessed with rich nutrients brought down by the Barito and Martapura rivers. Transactions here were quick and in less than an hour some were ready to leave with their empty boats while others had to wait a little longer before paddling home hoping for better luck the next day. I believed some went home empty handed in this very unique daily wholesale market.