04 Oct - 19 Oct 2013 Pontianak

Republic of Indonesia (CPI = 32/100 and BPI = 7.1/10.0) 
West Kalimantan aka Kalimantan Barat (KalBar)
Jalan Gajah Mada 201
Clean a/c single room (room “Tanggui”) with private Western bathroom and shaky wifi for IDR 120,000.- or US$ 10.40 per night. Friendly enough staff, but no English at the reception.
Beer: 620-ml bottles of piss-warm Bali Hai Premium Lager Beer (5.0 % alc./vol.) for IDR 19,300.- or US$ 1.65 per bottle from the ignorant Ligo Mitra supermarket in town (…thus, of all things, bang on the equator, being forced to ignore Henry Miller’s brilliant toast: “Drink cold, piss warm!”).

Click below for an interactive road map of the Ateng House in Pontianak, which we would recommend, and for directions:
S 00° 02.15' E 109° 20.51'

Matt: Exploring by foot the vibrant and compact city centre of Pontianak aka the “City on the Equator” (thus being almost the only pedestrian and at the mercy of myriads of Chinese scooters and Japanese motorcycles, recklessly piloted by adolescents with driving habits which have been derived from millenniums-old headhunting instincts), a dirty and noisy dump and a serious rival to Medan and Makassar in the ongoing Southeast Asian competition for the least liveable place, a city which basically consists of two similarly decrepit and incredibly littered parts, (i) the noodle-dominated Tionghoa township with concrete churches and concrete shop houses on the west bank of Sungai Kapuas and (ii) the rice-dominated Malay kampung with wooden mosques and wooden stilt houses on the river’s east bank; river crossing by means of canoe taxi for IDR 2,000.- per person, one way.

Matt: Meeting stately King Edy, a fellow grandfather and the big chief of West Kalimantan’s Iban Dayaks aka "Panglima Iban Dayak" in his urban longhouse residence aka rumah betang, admiring his tits, his tats and the photos of his grandchildren (he: “empat cucu”, me: “tiga cucu”), listening to Edy’s hair-rising stories about Kalimantan’s long history of headhunting and eventually getting permission to take a few snaps of some of his more innocuous hunting trophies and totems.

Matt: Chumming up with the friendly folks at the old Pasar Flamboyan, the large traditional wet market with the sexy name in my hotel’s neighbourhood, becoming a regular customer and buying fresh veggies every other day for considerably less than at other places before (e.g. at Pemangkat): Indian aka “Bombay" onions for c. IDR 15,000.- or US$ 1.30 per kg, carrots for c. IDR 15,000.- or US$ 1.30 per kg, cucumbers for c. IDR 5,000.- or US$ 0.45 per kg, peppers for c. IDR 20,000.- or US$ 1.80 per kg and garlic for c. IDR 30,000.- or US$ 2.65 per kg.

“What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.”
(Augustus Saint-Gaudens)

Matt: Sourcing excellent cap cuan from ███████████ at ███████████ (c. 45 % alc./vol.; IDR 2,500.- or US$ 0.25 per innocent plastic bag), KalBar’s home-distilled alternative to rye whisky, fuel-tank matured and blended with herbs and secret substances, and thereafter having vivid hallujuicenetics about beautiful Dayak fairies straight from the rainforest which I lapsed to delete from my camera’s memory card the next morning.

Matt: Experimenting with two different Coriolis effects in my bare feet, being as sober as a judge, when I walked on the centre-line separating our planet in northern and southern hemisphere, c. 100 m south of Pontianak’s incorrectly placed and badly maintained 1928/1938 CE Equator Monument aka Tugu Khatulistiwa, agreeing with my highly regarded colleague Califano and verifying that inside my two big toes (without determining the exact Coriolis coupling constants) “…in polyatomic molecules, where the molecule motion can be described by a rigid body rotation and internal vibration of atoms about their equilibrium position, as a result of the vibrations of the atoms, (all my) atoms are in motion relative to the rotating coordinate system of the molecule, and the Coriolis effects will therefore be present and will cause (my) atoms to move in a direction perpendicular to the original oscillations which leads to a mixing in molecular spectra between the rotational and vibrational levels from which Coriolis coupling constants can be determined…”; cheers!


Matt: Attending to my tourist duties, paying tribute to the gods on this planet and visiting (i) the colourful 1679 CE Vihara Bodhisatva Karaniya Metta, KalBar’s oldest Chinese temple, and (ii) the wooden and square-tiered 1771 CE Mesjid Jami aka Mesjid Abdurrahman Habib Hussein Al-Qadry, built from iron wood which won’t rot in the upcoming water world.

Matt: Balancing over the wobbly planks between the stilt houses in the very Muslim kampung Dalam Bugis (on the east bank of Kapuas River) during Eid al-Adha, witnessing the cowardly killing of unarmed animals, a gruesome and gory “religious” procedure (...and desensitisation to throat slitting in general), and trying to figure out the reason for my vegetarianism: Do I love animals, or do I hate vegetables? And, what about fish (1), (2), (3)?

"Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks:
they’re only animals." 
(Theodor Adorno)

Matt: Purchasing from KalBar’s modern and relaxed Department of Immigration +62561765576 aka Kantor Imigrasi (brace yourself: no bribes, no waiting queue and good English) a 30-day extension for my 60-day tourist visa, issued within 24 hours (requirements: IDR 250,000.- in cash for the state coffers, my finger prints, one copy of any return ticket, some useless forms … and a sponsor), and meeting the wonderful team of KalBar’s competent and helpful Office for Culture and Tourism +62561742838, located diagonally opposite, who supplied all kind of information about West Kalimantan and were brave and friendly enough to cut through the red tape of the bureaucratic sponsorship issue; thank you very much.

Matt: Embarking on a sloppily painted and dirty floating steel coffin, the express ship “Poly 2” +62561735864, cruising from Pontianak’s rat-infested river wharf (admission: IDR 1,000.- per person - just another example for Indonesia’s democratisation of corruption) through the river delta of the Kapuas River and later through the Karimata Strait (the wide strait between Sumatra and Kalimantan that connects the South China Sea with the Java Sea) to Ketapang’s river harbour (c. 130 nm, 6 ¾ hours, IDR 220,000.- or US$ 20.00 per person in the arctic economy class with the usual Indonesian slapstick comedies on screen, including a basic meal), after having kept a safe distance from the malaria-prone Karimata Archipelago, and, after arrival, hiring one of the waiting ojeks for IDR 20,000.- or US$ 1.80 for the ride from the river harbour, located c. 5 km north of town, straight to my next guesthouse aka losmen in downtown Ketapang.

Click below for more blog posts about Applied Physics

Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United Kingdom:

For Amazon schnaeppchens from Germany, please click here
For Amazon deals from the United States, please click here
For Amazon deals from Canada, please click here

From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life: 
It’s bad to take things seriously;
It’s good to achieve your goals.
Keep your bearings!