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GADIS PEMIMPI(N) - A Girl in Kalimantan by Ririn Ela Kurnia Sari

Read here about the Experiences from a young Girl, Surtina, living in Kalimantan, dedicating her talent in Tourism for the Aims of Borneo Escape. And about her Journey reaching this point. 

"Borneo is a place that is known all over the World as one of the last natural wilderness, teeming with flora and fauna life, a land inhabited by Native Dayaks - a land unexplored, mysterious, fragile and threatened." Since I was 3 years old, I lived in an area far from the word "Fun", away from the Hustle and Modernization with forests in every corner. A place, where living is considered not easy. A place called Kalimantan! "A place of deep, lush rainforest, winding broad rivers, exotic native Dayaks, rare plants, giant trees, colorful birds, unique mammals, strange insects, and the majestic Orangutans." I am Ririn Ela Kurnia Sari, my Subud name is Surtina, and I live in Tumbang Tahai, near Tangkiling, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. I was opened at Subud Rungan Sari almost 4 years ago on a Sunday, after meeting many Subud Youth at the Basara Youth gathering. 

Since childhood, I have been very interested in FOREST and CULTURE. When I was younger I was invited by my foster mother (Ibu Andarini, a Subud member) to a strange place called Rungan Sari. There I saw many people like me, but also many people with different skin and hair colors, speaking a language called English. Many questions popped into my head: Who are these people? What are they doing near my home? Why do they come to a place where a lot of people don’t even want to live? As I grew older, I continued visiting Rungan Sari and I was determined that one day I would be able to talk to these strangers to find answers to my questions. So I studied hard in school and paid attention as we learned the language called English. I told myself to be brave and not to be ashamed to use the language whenever I could. Because I believe Language can unite people.

The limitations of the lessons I received at school made me desperate to seek knowledge from other places. I joined the Girl Scouts to get to know more about Forests and Culture. I joined Yayasan Usaha Mulia Foundation (YUM) to study English and to learn more about Computer works. I joined BOS Friends, run by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), and learned about these beautiful primates the Orangutans. I also learned about the rainforests, where Orangutans live and about the environmental damage happening around us in Kalimantan. 

Even though I was a good student and had good grades, my family was poor. So I was unable to go to university to study more about the world. One day there was a scholarship competition to enter the best university in Indonesia organized by the city of Palangkaraya. I was chosen for a full scholarship in Tourism. And moved to Jakarta to study for 3 years. I am very grateful for the good experiences I had there.

At first, my aim in university was just to master English and to become able to meet many new people and to learn about their cultures. After I graduated from University, I realized that there were more things to do. Although many jobs have been offered to me, like working on cruises and traveling the world, I decided to go back to Kalimantan. Something inside reminded me that, since I was a child, I had grown up in Central Kalimantan, eating and drinking from the nature of Borneo. I felt, that I had to give something back to Central Kalimantan as a Gratitude. Even though I didn’t know-how.

"BORNEO ESCAPE enables guests to experience this Borneo environment of excitement, awe, calm, peace, the expansiveness of nature which is enhanced by the connection to the Dayak communities and culture." So I went to work in Kalimantan in tourism for the government. But soon I felt that I needed more challenges and more inspiration to grow. After 2 years, I was getting bored and I felt as if my creative sense was disappearing little by little. Then one day a Subud friend from Rungan Sari told me that his mother was involved in a tourism project to take people into nature, to see Dayak villages, to visit sights around Tangkiling and to help the guests to understand and appreciate all these things. I was curious: What kind of tourism was that? 

"BE takes guest to this place of renewal - to follow the guidance of YM Bapak who explained that one day the world will be so busy and compressed that people will become more ill and confused, and they will need a place where there is nature, good clean air, wide-open spaces and feelings in order to be able to revive, regenerate and get back in touch with their inner self." I found out that my friend Arisai's mother, Adriani, was starting an ecotourism project with her two brothers Mahrus and Latif. Mahrus explained to me the project, the vision, the mission during an interview. Then he asked me if I am ready to work really hard, to do any job required - from meeting Ministers to cleaning the toilet, to have courage and perseverance in facing unexpected difficulties. And, most importantly, if I was ready to commit at least 5 years of my life to the project. If yes, they would ask me to join them.  It took me less than 3 minutes to say yes. It was a Yes for growth, a Yes for a wider world, a Yes for challenges, a Yes for an Inspired Life. However uncertain it may be or how hard it may become. "So we call ourselves BORNEO ESCAPE ... Escape to Borneo, into an exotic, new outer and inner world ..." A month later, to the confusion of my friends who reminded me that a government job is for life, easy and certain - but with the support of my family  - I left my government job to join the start-up called BORNEO ESCAPE.  

This was April 2018 and I just turned 24. Since then we have experienced in fast forward so many things.

"Designed around the existing infrastructure of EcoVillage and Rungan Sari / Tangkiling environment our main task is to provide the safety, comfort, certainty, hospitality, and adaptability for the unique experiences we offer."  Just as we started operating we survived a devastating 3 month-long rainforest-fire haze.

"Our guests range from backpackers to high-income individuals and families who wish to feel inspired by the places they visit and the people they meet, pushing past preconceived notions of different cultures, both near and far, to become more dynamic and informed citizens. It is an Experiential travel." Recently we were invited by the Indonesian Tourism department to go to Paris for an expo to tell people about this new exciting company. It was my very first trip out of Indonesia. An incredible journey for a girl from Kalimantan. I was in Paris! I even had time to see the Eiffel Tower!

So much has happened - each event inspired and inspiring, each with a taste of God's guidance.  "BORNEO ESCAPE's mission is to offer a transformative experience of being at one (and in the moment) with the fascinating natural beauty and culture of Kalimantan through unique nature activities and genuine hospitality in a safe and friendly environment." Each pushing the boundaries of my limitations and expectations - new, strange, unexpected.

"With our collective knowledge, connections, backgrounds, and clear direction and intentions, we have put together a unique social enterprise that can enliven Rungan Sari, provide jobs, educate local staff, work with local people and institutions, and also provide a sustainable income for all" I humbly look forward to more.  "Through their experience, we hope to engage more people in feeling and understanding the special natural environment that exists in Kalimantan and the challenges to maintain it. And also to know the Dayak people and their struggles in keeping alive their culture and carrying it forth into the future."

You can feel the spirit of Borneo Escape yourself. Visit us in Rungan Sari and join us in one of our jungle tours, go stand up paddleboarding through the tropical rainforest.

And if you are one of our Subud friends who want to live here: I can not guarantee you a "Fun" life in Kalimantan. But I can guarantee that you will experience Growth here. This is why I go to work each day feeling inspired, awake, alive, grateful for all the gifts from Almighty God. Alhamdulillah!

"At the core of it all, we are answering the call to do something in Kalimantan of merit and worth, to help not harm, to share not take, to receive and follow - to move forward with YM Bapak's directions and guidance in a practical way while endeavoring to carry out Bapak’s Vision for us all."


an Article by Surtina - Ririn Ela Kurnia Sari with quotes from the Vision of Borneo Escape 


Please read more about Borneo Escape here on their website.


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