One benefit of going on an expedition cruise, such as the Orion II’s Camp Leakey–Faces in the Forest trip, is that when the team goes into true “expedition mode”—sending guides out in the morning to explore sites that weren’t necessarily planned as part of the itinerary—you find yourself immersed in unique and surprising experiences.
That was the case when a group of us rode in outboard-propelled zodiac pontoon boats to Tanjung Kumbik, a fishing village in the Riau Islands between Borneo and mainland Malaysia. Given a few hours to prepare for our midmorning arrival, the Muslim villagers organized a welcome ceremony at the dock with a chorus of women singing and playing tambourines, followed by several dance performances of beautifully costumed schoolchildren, teenagers, and young adults. The short video below captures a few minutes of one of the most compelling presentations: The older man, seated and dressed in yellow, reached a trancelike state as he sang and plucked an oud-like stringed instrument, accompanied by the four men onhand drums. He played with so much intense concentration that he finally had to be coaxed into stopping. I could have listened all day.