Walking in Pontianak (Indonesia)
Today we’re visiting Pontianak, the capital of the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, and bisected by the Equator. The city is mostly populated by ethnic Chinese, Dayaks and Malays, as well as significant numbers of minorities such as Bugis and Javanese.
Duration: 1 hr. 23 min. 22 sec.
Video by: keezi walks
The most convenient way to explore Pontianak is either by taxi or rented car. The entire Pontianak is integrated by road link, parts of which are not well maintained. There are also plenty of cheap public buses but sometimes it can be kind of adventure to use them since the buses are not well marked, drivers and most of the locals do not speak English and the orientation is difficult. Also there are boats crossing the river and this is in general the most convenient and the cheapest way to get in to the other side.
Internet cafe businesses are flourishing, but you’ll only find a few without distracting gamers like you might find in typical East Asian internet cafes. Don’t worry about the billing (that’s how the locals say). But don’t expect a speed-of-light one out of it, though. Many locals have internet access varying from snaily dial-up to ISDN (most notably Telkom Speedy) installed in their houses. GPRS and 3G access from your cellphone exists, but you will not necessarily find GPRS signal everywhere even in the middle of the city.
I just crossed the border of Malaysia and Indonesia (with a fresh Indonesian visa) in the only Malaysian-Indonesian land crossing – Etikong. Other Malaysian-Indonesian transitions are only ports or airports.
I punched the visa at the post in Etikong and went out onto the road, and immediately saw the differences of the neighboring countries. The road became narrow, food – cheap, dirt became more, sellers began to pester more often, there were rickshaws and motorcyclists-taxi drivers. I did not change the money at the border, because I had a million rupees prepared in advance. I prepared it prudently in advance – a month ago, when I was in Jakarta. Unlike Malaysia, where there are a lot of exchangers and banks at a decent rate – in Indonesia the exchange takes place in the market or at the rarer, and the rate is determined in the course of bargaining.
As always and daily, it rained. The umbrella with the rusty handle presented to me by the pastor broke down when I tried to open it, and I happily stuck the wreckage of the umbrella into a pile of rubbish near the road.
I walked on foot, because the cars were not crowded. And soon found out why – three kilometers from the border there was a village and a bus terminal. Dumbfounded, I did not resist the attempts of the helpers to put me on the bus and take me to Pontianak. I had to go to Pontianak half a day, and by the evening I was at the bus terminal of this famous city, I really wanted to come to.
Inexplicably logically, I have long wanted to visit Pontianak, in the City of Equator, and live there for at least a few days. All my dreams I want to fulfill, not postponing for a long time. And now, in front of me the city of P., which I saw on the map for a long time, now I will see and live – as soon as I get from the bus station (wasteland, littered with rubbish, taxi drivers and buses) to the center. Pontianak is the capital of the province of Western Kalimantan.
The city is divided not only by the equator, but also by the large river of Capua. The bus station and the Equatorial Monument are on the same shore, and the city center and the markets are on the other. While walking to the crossing, photographed at the monument. Strange in shape, the sign was an inverted bowl for soup, from which a mast-tower with a circle and an arrow (representing the globe and the equator) protruded. What kind of architect has cooked such a thing, I do not know. At the base of the monument (“plate”) there were even doors (probably inside the museum of the equator?) But they were locked. Photographed. Then he went around it several times, after five minutes in several hemispheres.
He came to the ferry, along with the people and cars, leaked on the ferry and swam across the wide Capua. While sailing, he saw the saleswoman of the newspapers on the ferry, copied the address of “Equatorial Truth” (or rather, “Pontianak Post”), found out where that street was, and decided, if possible, to visit the newspaper, to become famous here.
In the city – how joyful! – Cheap durians and very cheap pineapples were sold. The price of one pineapple was the cost of a few boxes of matches. Even for a penny it could be cleaned and cut. And the newspaper was already closed after the late hour.
It’s time to look for a night in this big and noisy center. I decided to check out new religious figures – the Chinese “Christian Church of the New Testament” Immanuel “turned out to be.” Very large and populated by dozens of Chinese singing to music religious hymns. I said that I want to spend the night with them. Twenty Chinese gathered, nothing could be solved. After 1.5 hours, when I no longer knew what would happen (yes or no), an intelligent Chinese pastor came and said:
– You can not sleep in church at all! – since he is afraid for the safety of the church (!), he can not invite him to visit himself, because it is impossible absolutely, – but allowed to put the tent under the visor. He did not ask about my religion. He tried to raft me into the newspaper’s editorial on the contrary – “Go there, everyone loves them”, to which I said that it is already closed there, as it was.
However, not all Chinese Christians were as strict as the pastor. Some parishioners, seeing me and my tent late at night, brought me offerings – rice and drinking water. Gratitude to them for it! Because all the eudalni were already closed, while I was sitting and waiting for the pastor.
Even before dawn, at four in the morning, they raised me. These immanuelists start singing even earlier than in the mosque! Also have asked to be cleaned. I gathered and walked leisurely out into the morning, slowly awakening city. In the editorial office, no one was present. After a while he came to school, in which the first students and teachers had already started to appear.
My appearance at school caused a great stir. The teachers were happy to show me the people. They brought in a microphone and a huge sound machine. In the morning in each school they arrange, before the beginning of the classes, a solemn line. On this line, I spoke in front of a large crowd of students of older ages (grades 9-12). My English sayings were understood by no more than 1/4 of the students and teachers (although they study English, but not quite very well). Someone translated me, like an English teacher. After the line of not less than 100 students, mostly girls, took me to their mobile phones!
After I spoke in front of the students in the “Official Format” from the school porch to the microphone – I went to the newspaper. They gave me all the attention, made an article about me, photographed me, and I sat on the Internet. Meanwhile, the first two lessons were held at the school. Having made friends with the newspapers, I returned from the Pontianak Post to the school (where I left my rucksack). All classes were interrupted. I was photographed about 150 times in all kinds (on all cell phones, – cameras less often), then one teacher decided to sacrifice his class, took to his place, and put me in the teacher’s place. At first I was embarrassed, tk. the subject (Indonesian) was not very familiar to me. But I quickly mastered and conducted the lesson to the great pleasure of both the teacher and the students.
After the lesson, I fought with schoolchildren (with the largest of them, which are still smaller than me), I communicated with those who were more contact. Then schoolchildren dragged me to eat (at my expense) and enjoyed the spectacle as a foreigner eats, and also remembers Indonesian words. Then I taught schoolchildren to wring out in many ways.
In general, the usual school day has turned into a hell of a thing. Half of the lessons were canceled.
The students were extremely interested in me, and – they asked me to put an autograph on the school uniform (they are of a light beige color) – like a pen and a marker. I managed to paint quite a few students, until the director, seeing, did not suspend this disgrace (to the chagrin of not having time to sign). However, I was not dragged to visit – neither students, nor teachers. Children here rarely show initiative to call on guests, maybe not accepted, or afraid of parents.
There was a mosque in the school. The whole educational institution was designed only for Muslims (Christians study separately). Classes last till half of the first, after that – a joint prayer, and on the occasion there can be a sermon. Some walk a prayer, it’s not punished. When he saw me in the House of Allah, one of the teachers on a motorcycle took me to the Main Mosque, where the Ulema Council (Pontianak) and the local Islamic media Radio Mujahideen were located. I gladly went there.