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Pontianak

sunny

Having slept half the previous day my exhaustion still claimed the night for good measure, only interrupted by an enforced midnight laundry chore complicated by the lack of a bucket. I managed the early rise though for the nauseating spicy fried rice brekkie, before hitting the considerable trail out to priority number 1, the Museum of West Kalimantan. At first reassured to find it open, as was by far from always the case despite what might otherwise be promised, it was a blow to discover then that in the baffling absence of electricity the collection was entirely unviewable. Determined I hadnt come all this way to be short changed, I resolved to stumble about in the darkness with the aid of my home grown "Almond" LED torch, but it was still impossible to glean any meaningful input beyond the usual predictable fare, annotated only in Bahasa. In fact it was a spooky prospect as I encountered initially a paltry fauna section of a large lizard, a cobra and a turtle, and then scarily carved wooden totems. Even an assortment of back slings used for carrying children, variously carved or woven, were decorated with skeletons and demonic figures. And Pontianak itself, well it means vampire! Just exactly what kind of land had I arrived in!?

The exterior exhibits were again paltry and unredeeming, though a couple of cannon were at least still inscribed with the VOC logo, dated 1704. There were also intricately carved totems portraying men and big willied monkies, and various uninspiring examples of indiginous looking house styles. The return trek back to the centre was little redeemed by a reproduction longhouse which looked way too arty and conventional to be authentic, then the State Mosque proved to be dilapidated affair even if the crowning dome was an unusual pointed cup cake design. From there it was then a pressing priority to secure a ticket for the night bus to Kuching before checking out of the hotel, refreshingly easy and convenient even if a mature woman in a spanky new car did stop me en route and promptly threaten to accompany me, and the supposed "rear entrance" to the hotel proved to be a knocking shop. From there my map proved less than adequate but a scummy photogenic boat jetty by the riverside provided justification of my sweat. I resisted the persistent attempts to accost me aboard one in deference to searching out further goals instead. The guidebook's subsequent promise of notable buildings proved optimistic, but it brought me in any case to the large Push Me Pull You car ferry which afforded a more sedate passage across the river. Resisting the likely hassles of arranging an onward connection at the grungy market opposite, I went hardcore again in a mile long trek past stink infested industry, random shacks and cheery locals out to my next priority, the Monumen Khatulistiwa. It eventually materialised as promised and proved to be a suitably large concrete obelisk atop a whitewashed dome, and I realised a vague bonus in discovering an unexpected visitors centre of sorts beneath the pinnacle denoting the Equator. Though money had clearly been lavished on its tiled interior and storyboards and maps, it struck me that they had failed in the one obvious indulgence of clearly demarcating the line. I had held previous images in my mind of a white stripe painted across the adjacent road to delineate its passage, but reversion to my faithfull pocket compass perversely deemed it to lie somewhere close to the roads centreline along which I had just walked, it was a non-starter.

From here it might be said that I rather ran out of steam. Though a Bemo got me back to the ferry efficiently the subsequent futher cross river foray to an appealing wooden mosque and Sultanate palace just discernible proved too much of a diversion at this late hour, and so I allayed myself of guilt in another default Padang cuisine indulgence and a superbly convenient net cafe. I later hooked up with the nearby bus for 9, and deliciously realising it to be a Malaysian vehicle where economy class still proved more than acceptable, I left Pontianak in further expectation of elevated standards and doubtless prices.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Indonesia

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