13 Sep - 18 Sep 2013 Pemangkat

Republic of Indonesia (CPI = 32/100 and BPI = 7.1/10.0) 
West Kalimantan aka Kalimantan Barat (KalBar)
Pemangkat
Tanjung Batu
Hotel Duyung Permai II +62562242622
Spacious and reasonably clean double room (no. A5) in a creaky and rugged stilt house, with fan, private Indonesian bathroom (bak mandi) and clean enough squat loo, and, cherry on top, with a small private fishing/reading balcony only 2 m over the murky waters of the Natuna Sea; great views over the mouth of the Sambas River, all this for just IDR 80,000.- or US$ 7.- per night. Zero service; zero English.
Beer: 620-ml bottles of chilled Bali Hai Draft Beer (max. 5.0 % alc./vol.) for IDR 20,500.- or US$ 1.80 per large bottle from the brand-new and friendly Chinese Supermart MM in town.


Click below for an enhanced satellite view of the Hotel Duyung Permai II in Tanjung Batu and for directions:
N 01° 11.08' E 108° 58.16'










Matt: Enjoying the strictly internet-free loneliness of my hotel-room’s private sea-view balcony, rediscovering the pleasure of reading historical fiction set in Asia, being mesmerised after dusk by both undisclosed quantities of cold and cheap Bali Hai beer and the hypnotising but unidentifiable Fl.(2)W12s-flashes from an unknown lighthouse behind the 83-m high Tanjung Kalang Bau, and busying my dizzy mind with the search for the reason of the clearly visible economical and cultural difference between (i) the rather prosperous, clean and orderly Sarawak/Malaysia and (ii) the rather backward, filthy and chaotic KalBar/Indonesia; all other factors of this controlled experiment being almost identical (e.g. ethnicity, climate, geography, natural resources and initial conditions for the political system), obviously, the only independent variable must be historical: the former colonial powers in Borneo and Kalimantan and their principles of governance (the world power Great Britain/Brookes vs. rather pooterish Hollandwith obviously different attitudes of the British and Dutch civil servants, settlers and soldiers towards their native subjects.



Matt: Wading through Pemangkat’s fresh-produce market, stocking up with local spices and fresh veggies thus noticing that low-calorie health food (e.g. raw-food platters, salads or crudit├ęs) in third-world Indonesia is almost as expensive, at least for aliens (harga turis), as it is in any first-world country: e.g. Indian onions c. IDR 30,000.- or US$ 2.70 per kg, carrots c. IDR 35,000.- or US$ 3.10 per kg, cucumbers c. IDR 20,000.- or US$ 1.80 per kg, peppers c. IDR 40,000.- or US$ 3.50 per kg and garlic c. IDR 60,000.- or US$ 5.30 per kg, none of them organically grown and all of them with plenty of pesticide residues (…even more bewildering if compared with the low prices for the high-calorie/non-filling, over-oiled and over-sugared local junk food, such as (i) Indonesian deep-fried fritters aka gorengan (often infused in or caramelised with coconut milk, such as rendang and gulai), (ii) sweet Indonesian pancakes aka martabak manis which are sometimes spiced up with layers of chocolate, chopped peanuts, processed cheese, palm sugar and condensed milk (ask for “martabak manis coklat kacang”) or (iii) cheap and fattening roti bakarthe much-loved national junk food, bread toast with everything, from chocolate, cheese, eggs, etc.



Matt: Hanging out with friendly Pemangkatnyins (one half of them belongs to the officially beer-drinking non-Muslim Hakka and Teochew Chinese Indonesians and the other half to the officially coffee-drinking Muslim Kalimantanese Malay Indonesians, with only a few Dayak town dwellers thrown in for good measure) who all might not have seen an orang putih in their one-horse town for ages and patiently answering a thousand times their bonhomous questions (“What’s your name?” - “Where do you come from?” - “What do you think about Indonesia?”); xiexie and terima kasih, my friends, for your relaxed hospitality as well as for the many 330-ml cans of luke-warm Anker and Bali Hai beers over ice (IDR 12,000.- or US$ 1.05 for Bali Hai and IDR 15,000.- or US$ 1.30 for Anker) and glasses of hot kopi pahit (IDR 2,000.- or US$ 0.20 per glass): “There are no foreign lands; it is the traveller only who is foreign...”, as Robert Louis Stevenson once reframed.



Matt: Listening to the yarn of the weather-beaten skippers from the many rugged fishing, cargo and passenger boats (including semi-daily school boats) which regularly come alongside the river harbour’s busy jetty and whose heavily used, dirty and unreliable wooden vessels often provide the only lifeline to KalBar’s many isolated Malay and Dayak villages and longhouses.



Matt: Visiting the prohibitive Buddhist Tri Darma Bumi Raya Temple, located below Elephant Hill (Indonesian: Gunung Gajah, Hakka: Shin Mu Nyong) and built as a place of worship to the gods who protect fishermen, wondering where all the moolah for this brand-new, overproportional temple came from, hiking to the top of the hill and savouring the spectacular scenery of the mighty river mouth of Sungai Sambas Besar.



Matt: Trusting the congregation of local laundresses-turned-analysts, who transform every morning the rubbish-strewn village well/laundry into a cackling intelligence agency, with a load of my soiled clothing and getting it all back, 24 hours later, delivered to my hotel room: beaten, clean and almost dry for IDR 20,000.- or US$ 1.75 per bundle.



Matt: Flagging down, at the convenient bus stop right opposite the mosque currently under construction, an eastbound regional bus of the Pontianak-Singkawang-Kartiasa route to Sambas (c. 45 km of coastal road along orange plantations, rice paddies and coconut palm groves and through poor and squalid villages, 1 ½ hours, IDR 15,000.- or US$ 1.30 per person), a rugged and filthy small rural town located on both banks of the Sungai Sambas Kecil and best known for its hand-woven songket.


Click below for a summary of this year's travels
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From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life:
It’s bad to be perfect;
It’s good to be precise.
Keep your bearings!