Where to Go after the Pandemic? Try Lok Baintan Floating Market

Lok Baintan floating market on river Martapura, Banjar regency, South Kalimantan. | Photo credit: Swiss-Belhotel Banjarmasin.

SOUTH Kalimantaneses are very fortunate to having this unique trade area: Lok Baintan.

It is an age-old floating market on river Martapura, formerly known as river Kayutangi, in Banjar regency.

Beside Lok Baintan, there is actually also Muara Kuin, another floating market located on river Barito.

The river, estimated to be 890 kilometers long, flows from Muller-Schwaner mountain range and empties into Java Sea.

The Barito goes along several regencies of Central and South Kalimantan provinces including Banjarmasin City. 

For South Kalimantan itself, the Barito becomes the major, biggest river of the province.

When compared to floating market of Muara Kuin, however, Lok Baintan is considered more “exotic”.

River Martapura, where all trading activities of Lok Baintan market take place, is one of River Barito’s tributaries. (Another stream which is also essential for the life of people there, is River Bahan or River Negara.)

If you were in Banjarmasin, the best way to reach Lok Baintan is via river transport. 

A motorboat (locally known as “kelotok”) can be hired with about 350,000 IDR (24 USD) from a dock located just a few dozen meters from the old office of South Kalimantan Governor.

Trading activites in the Lok Baintan usually take place between 5 AM and 9 or 10 AM. A visitor, therefore, would better to have been on the boat at least one hour earlier.

During the water trip, a visitor will be discovering locals’ activities and seeing their stilt houses along Martapura riverbanks. Most of the houses facing the river, whilst others front onto the opposite direction.

A motorboat usually goes upstream to Lok Baintan in about 45 minutes.

The floating market can also be reached by land transportation from the province's main airport, Syamsuddin Noor of Banjarbaru.

The Lok Baintan can be reached by a one hour land transport from Banjarbaru's Syamsuddin Noor airport. | Photo credit: Swiss-Belhotel Banjarmasin.

TRADING activities on small boats called “jukung” in Lok Baintan floating market, to be said have been going on for generations, since the era of Banjarese Sultanate. The sultanate itself was founded in 1526.

The traders, (almost) all of them are women, carry out the activities in two ways: using money and barter.

A trader usually sells goods for money to visitors or tourists; while barter done, in large amount of goods, among fellow merchants.

The most commonly traded commodities in the Lok Baintan, as in Muara Kuin, too, comprise vegetables, fruits, tubers and bulbs, as well as flowers.

Unlike conventional markets, neither provincial nor municipal governments collect tax from merchants in Lok Baintan.

As written above, (almost) all traders in the floating market are women. Men, on the contrary, usually work as farmers, ranchers and different types of employment.

Some of the women will be seen wearing palm-leaf hats to protect their heads from the sun, and also, applying rice or cooling powder on the face.[sahrudin]