HANGING OUT AT THE EQUATOR


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Asia » Indonesia » Kalimantan » Pontianak
April 5th 2010
Published: April 7th 2010
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Waking up early to get ready for my 7:30 am bus, I went downstairs to find a taxi driver waiting in the lounge reading a paper, Ken the reception staff called one ahead of time for me, nice of him but I need my free breakfast first so I made the driver wait a little. He dropped me off at the bus station right at the Bus Asia bus. 7:30am is the departure time but we left at 7:15am and went around and stopped at the office. There they made me come to the office and show my passport, they wrote my name down on a sheet and handed me an Indonesian Immigration form which I need to fill up. Then we left and stopped at a few more spots, they are showing again "The Gods must be crazy" movie, 10 times I seen this already! It seems to be the favorite movie at buses in both Malaysia and Indonesia! Everyone is laughing enjoying the movie, I want to puke!

3 hours into the trip we arrived at the border, Malaysian was easy then we have to walk 3 minutes to the other side and do the Indonesian side, I
local market on  Gajahmada St.local market on  Gajahmada St.local market on Gajahmada St.

duck eggs on the left, turtle eggs on the right, oh dear!
was ahead of everyone, I walked with one of the drivers and he pointed me to the Immigration, first a stop at the VOA(visa on arrival)office. They took $25 off from me and gave me some Kalimantan brochures, then told me to go to the Immigration counter to the left, I saw a VOA sign on the window so I queued up on this booth, the fellow processing me is very nice, speaks good English and simply asked me where I was going, Pontianak I said, then disappeared with my passport, visa payment receipt and the form I filled up earlier. 10 minutes later he showed up with a big smile and handed me my paperwork, I checked, they gave me 30 days visa and then to customs next, My day bag was x rayed, the customs dude went through it, realizing I have a computer he inspected it thoroughly then asked me to get my big backpack, so I went to the bus and fetched it, it got x rayed then he went through it thoroughly, I have nothing to hide so wasn't fussed, he asked if I brought alcohol, no, cigarettes, I don't smoke I said, then he let me go.

The Indonesian side of the road is not bad at first then after an hour or so it got bumpy, unpaved dirt road looks to me like logging roads, we stopped for lunch then went on took 9 hours total. I fell asleep, they replayed the movie again, sick! When we got to town after crossing a bridge I pulled out my map from LP and saw Garuda hotel, I realized I am close by to where I wanted to go, so I got off and people in the bus pointed me to where the Ateng tours is, the hotel I wanted to stay Ateng house is on the 2nd floor. I walked 5 minutes before I found it, I got off right at the turn from the Garuda hotel street called Pahlawan. The bus turned right to Gajamahda where Ateng was. The hotel is simple but neat, my room has a/c and tv, en suite toilet for 135,000 rupiah roughly $15 but is confortable so I took it after all my 1st day in Indonesia I want to relax.

I spoke with Ricky a travel agent downstairs at the travel agency in the hotel, and he helped me sort out my next few days, the trips to the park I need to fly or boat my way to Ketapang where I can book my trips to the jungle, first I want to see the equator monument, he gave me instructions on how to get there cheap, public buses. Then I walked to the Bus Asia office to try and refund my money, I have to buy a return ticket to Kuching in case Indonesian immigration asks which they didn't! I had a hard time explaining my situation, I told them the office in Kuching told me I can refund the unused open ticket, it took more than 30 minutes of persuasion, they won't call the Kuching office or the hotline number to verify, fianlly in the end they agreed to give me half of the money back,better than nothing. All the while this cuckoo local befriended me he seems to speak little English while I was arguing at the counter he keeps interrupting me, I thought he was helping me but no, he was trying to get Presidents Obama and Clinton's email addresses off me! I told him dude I do not know their
Pahlawan intersectionPahlawan intersectionPahlawan intersection

take note of the fake concrete police!
emails I don't know them personally, and just because I am American doesn't give me access to their personal emails! He then offered to give me the US embassy number in case something happen to me and I need help, I told him buzz off(in a polite way) I can take care of myself, thank you very much. If he doesn't go away he might need help from his local police, I might smack him!

Everything resolved eventually, I walked away from the office with 70,000 rupiahs refund from the bus ticket and the loony guy kept following me, if you can so kindly give me their email addresses he reiterated, seriously...like I have them...waved goodbye to him and quickly crossed the street, looking behind me to see if he followed me,he didn't. I chilled in the room then had dinner at a local eatery, some fried noodle thing and a 640 ml Heineken beer at the bar across the street from the hotel, $3! Had trouble sleeping, too much noise from outside, my room is next to a busy side street, the noise got worse when I turned off the a/c cause it's too cold. Felling groggy and moody in the morning I got up to play the tourist, as per instructions from Ricky the dude from Ateng tours below the hotel, I walked towards the Garuda hotel on Pahlawan Street, he said on the opposite of the hotel there is a Suzuki showroom, I should stand there and hail a passing opelet( a local minivan) and ask them if they go to Siantan terminal.

I was walking along Gajamada Street when I noticed a busy local market so I took a short cut to investigate and right away I noticed a man washing what look like duck eggs and putting them neatly next to some turtle eggs! I was appalled! I thought selling them is illegal! I took a photo though and quickly left the market. I noticed there are rickshaws in the corner streets, they use it here but what bothers me is the millions of motorbikes! like Vietnam, it's a life threatening experience to try and cross the streets, they swerve away from you supposedly but who knows.. Anyway I found the Suzuki place and stood there observing what comes along, i saw a couple opelet passby, one has Siantan in front of the windowshield but won't stop for me, I found a blue van and the driver nodded when I asked to the terminal? he was slow, we went to cross the Kapuas bridge then another bridge, you see houses on stilts along the river banks, they might be Bajau people.

At the Siantan terminal I bought some tropical orange fruits, I haven't had breakfast yet so this will be a snack, I then asked the vendor guy where is the bus to Tugu, he pointed me to the opelets behind me, so then I hopped on after asking the driver for sure if he is going that way, a couple of middle aged ladies in the van tried to talk to me but no English so we just smiled at each other. The opelet quickly filled and we are off, not 5 minutes had gone when everyone told me my stop is up, are you sure I asked cause we are in the highway, they all nodded smiling, Tugu they all said, so I paid and got off, and true enough right in front of me is the monument. Took photos then went inside, there were 3 security guards inside, made me think somethings really valuable must be inside. in the middle is the original monument and like every equator stops there is a line across showing the north and south, alas though no water experiments or eggs standing in the middle earth, just photos, boring. Oh there is a photo where they show this strange phenomena that happens twice a year.Every March 21-23 and September 21-23, at midday, the sun passes over the equator line/the culmination; therefore, it makes the shadow of that monument and every other erected things around the statue disappear.

I walked to the small park in front of the monument facing the river, and I see a man doing his laundry in the murky brown water. I had a few oranges then went back to the highway to get a ride back, I saw a bus coming so I hailed it, Just by luck it head straight downtown so I don't have to get off at the Siantan terminal. But the bus is oh so slow looking for fare, It probably took us 45 minutes to get to town! I got off and walked back to cross the bridge, there are houses along the banks
Tugu Khatulistiwa(Equator)Tugu Khatulistiwa(Equator)Tugu Khatulistiwa(Equator)

north(left of the line) and south(right of the line)
as I have said and I observed people doing their daily activities, people swimming or bathing, fishing, doing laundry, the water is murky and trash along the river side where houses are built, this is really not healthy, I decided to stay away from any fish in this town, knowing where they might have been caught. The pedestrian walkway on the bridge is also motorbike lane so I have to be careful walking they zoom by you so quickly I have my other arm across my body to keep it from swaying and hit the motorists or maim me. There is a fisherman below casting his net in the dirty water, I aved at him he acknowledged me.

I tried to find the ironwood palace of the old sultan called Syarif Abdurrahman Alqadrie, yup a mouthful, it is now a museum so I want to check it out out of boredom. I stopped by a small police detail on the side of the road, they can't understand me so I mentioned "Bat-ing" these are the people apparently that live in the area says Ricky, he nodded and pointed me to the take left at the next street. There is
Tugu Khatulistiwa(Equator)Tugu Khatulistiwa(Equator)Tugu Khatulistiwa(Equator)

view from outside the monument
an archway as I went to turn left it says something which I can't understand, I walked for almost half hour in that direction in the searing equatorial sun, I am annoyed by now, it's hot, and the open canals have a stinky smell I can't take this anymore so I went back and gave up. Before crossing the bridge again I almost got run over by a motorbike making a left turn on the road, I saw him coming as I was crossing so I just stood there to give him way but no he is going straight at me, not swerving, he decides at the last minute to avoid me and said some remarks, I gave him a mouthful and a foul gesture!

Back at Gajamada street, feeling weak and tired I sat down on this cafeteria to eat, no one can understand me and avoids me like a pest, the brave will approach me to take my order, I have to get used to this now, almost no English just like in Yemen. After my meal I came back to the hotel and immediately booked my flight out for tomorrow, I had it with this hot
SiantanSiantanSiantan

mosque parts
town, my destination is Ketapang, gateway to the National Park of Gunung Palung.There is an ATM machine next to the hotel and it worked for my card, what a relief. The booking process took a long time and maximum luggage weight is 10 kgs! 5,000 rupiahs every extra kilo, not so bad, I have 6 kgs extra! Roughly $3 I have to pay. I contemplated leaving my stuff here but don't really want to come back and besides I can take another flight from Ketapang to my next destination. It poured down rain moments later and continued on and off the rest of the afternoon and eve, that's tropical weather for you.


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Kapuas bridgeKapuas bridge
Kapuas bridge

note the motorbike/pedestrian lane
Ateng houseAteng house
Ateng house

my room, take note I have a water cooler dispenser thing
Ateng houseAteng house
Ateng house

lounge room on 2nd floor


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