19 Oct - 21 Oct 2013 Ketapang

Republic of Indonesia (CPI = 32/100 and BPI = 7.1/10.0) 
West Kalimantan aka Kalimantan Barat (KalBar)
Jalan Diponegoro 2a
Losmen Mutiara +6253431082
Basic and clean enough fan double room (room 1A), shared Indonesian bathroom (bak mandi with unfiltered river water - you get what you pay for) and a great communal terrace for just IDR 40,000.- or US$ 3.50 per night. Very friendly and committed Malay Indonesian staff; limited English.
Beer: 620-ml bottles of ice-cold Bintang Pilsener (c. 4.7 % alc./vol.) for IDR 24,000.- or US$ 2.10 per large bottle from the eager Fokus Swalayan supermarket in town.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Losmen Mutiara in Ketapang and for directions:
S 01° 50.68' E 109° 58.32'

Matt: Spending this rather rainy transit weekend in the platteland at Ketapang, which spreads along the east bank of Sungai Pawan, visibly divided into two sections, the wooden Malay Indonesian stilt houses northwest of the bridge and the concrete Tionghoa shop houses and urban canyons of ugly swiftlet bunkers southeast of the bridge, and listening all day long to (i) the natural noise from millions of edible-nest swiftlets (Aerodramus fuciphagus) which keep themselves busy producing the key ingredient for one of Asia's favourites, the aphrodisiac bird’s nest soup, and (ii) the pre-recorded, ear-piercing tweet from powerful amplifiers and loudspeakers on top of the multistorey nesting houses aka rumah walet which are supposed to lure the birds into their windowless dwellings; “Ketapang connects with nature…”, at least according to the Lonely Planet guidebooks.

Matt: Gathering useful intel from competent Mulia Tours +6253433279 ("You Will Never Travel Alone") about the least untouristy spots of untouristy Ketapang, a pretty uninspiring but friendly country town, isolated from most of KalBar, and visiting (i) the Chinese Kam Thien Tai The Temple, a sensory festival with colourful murals, where the mostly Teochew landlords of Ketapang’s bird bunkers regularly burn billions of joss money in order to attract as many salivating birds as possible, and (ii) the Malay Rumah Adat Melayu, a wooden kampung house on steroids with giant furniture, in which the honourable H. Morkes Effendi S.Pd MH, the noble but not-so-modest regent of Ketapang, has invested billions of his hard-earned real money in order to impress his minions and to maintain their loyalty.

Matt: Hiring an ojek (IDR 20,000.- or US$ 1.80 for the helmetless pillion ride) from the town centre to Ketapang’s rural Rahadi Osman Airport, located c. 3 km north of town, flying uneventfully with the optimistic low-budget carrier Trigana Air (“We Serve You Here, There and Everywhere” - but certainly not in Europe since Trigana Air has been on the List of Airlines Banned in the EU since 2007) in an extremely well-worn and many times pre-loved ATR 72-200 from Ketapang over a vast sea of oil-palm plantations to Pangkalan Bun’s clean and cute Iskandar Airport  (thus hopping within Kalimantan from “KalBar” to “KalTeng”) for the steal of only IDR 367,000.- or US$ 32.50 per person (plus IDR 10,000.- or US$ 0.90 “domestic passenger service charge” [aiport departure tax] at Ketapang’s airport), one way and all inclusive, and, immediately after arrival, being grabbed by the local taxi mafia (no public transport available, neither opelet nor ojek, only a fleet of blue, brand-new Hyundai subcompacts with a gang of smart young drivers and the non-negotiable flat rate of IDR 75,000.- for the short ride to town) and being instantly hammered with offers for heavily overpriced orangutan shows (ballyhooed with the usual greenwash: “ecological”, “sustainable”, “community-based” etc.) in the Tanjung Puting National Park, probably Kalimantan’s most productive, high-revving tourist trap.
“As I see the world, there's one element that's even more corrosive than missionaries: tourists. It's not that I feel above them in any way, but that the very places they patronize are destroyed by their affection.” 

Click below for more blog posts about edible bird's nests

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From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life:
It’s bad to fight;
It’s good to have at least three alternatives.
Keep your bearings!