21 Oct - 26 Oct 2013 Pangkalan Bun

Republic of Indonesia (CPI = 32/100 and BPI = 7.1/10.0) 
Central Kalimantan aka Kalimantan Tengah (KalTeng)
Jalan P. Antasari 100
Hotel Bahagia +6253221226 bahagiahotel@yahoo.com
Clean a/c standard double room with shared bathroom (bak mandi and Asian squat toilet), with wifi and a nominal breakfast, for IDR 120,000.- or US$ 10.80 per night. Friendly and competent staff; reasonable English.
Beer-free Muslim stronghold where strictly enforced local law prohibits the sale of beer.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Hotel Bahagia in Pangkalan Bun, which we would recommend, and for directions:
S 02° 40.66' E 111° 37.63'


Matt: Exploring the beer-free (yin) and pork-free (yang), predominantly Malay Indonesian riverside micropolis of Pangkalan Bun, a Muslim stronghold along the sluggish Sungai Arut, and coming across (i) its brand-new mosques and dilapidated residential houses, (ii) its bazaars where perfumeries outnumber plumbing supply stores and (iii) its hospitable inhabitants who get a kick out of overcharging wealthy foreigners (harga turis vs. harga biasa), seemingly everyone's holy duty, but always done with a friendly smile.

Matt: Visiting the sultan’s drab Yellow Palace aka Istana Kuning, a wooden hill-top fortress above town with great views over a sea of corrugated iron roofs, tasting traditional yellow rice aka nasi kuning (IDR 10,000.- or US$ 0.90 per plate), cooked with coconut milk and turmeric and served with shrimp crackers aka kerupuk udang and slices of cucumber, and daydreaming vividly about washing down the good food with a glass of ice-cold yellow (blond to deep-straw golden) beer, agh.

"Purple haze all in my eyes,
Don't know if it’s day or night
You got me blowin, blowin my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?"

Matt: Hanging out at the riverside boardwalks of the water village, socialising with the friendly locals and watching their everyday life along, on and with the river (…and noticing quite a few similarities between the daily routine in a water village and aboard a cruising sailing ship): brushing one's teeth in the river/sea, bathing the children in the river/sea, fetching water from the river/sea, doing the laundry in the river/sea, emptying one's bowels into the river/sea, cooling off in the river/sea, catching fish from the river/sea, disposing of trash into the river/sea - anything and everything.

"You can never shit into the same river twice."

Matt: Taking a shared minibus aka opelet from the terminal near the market for a daytrip to Kumai (c. 25 km, ¾ hour, IDR 25,000.- per person), Pangkalan Bun’s harbour for luxury cruise ships, passenger ferries to Java's north coast, regional cargo vessels, wooden Buginese and Makassarese schooners and for the villagers’ longboats, exploring the town’s busy riverfront, her sexy markets and intoxicating mosques, and coming face to face with the whole schmear of high-end orangutan shows in the commercialised Tanjung Puting National Park: a/c tour coaches with package tourists behind the tinted vehicle windows under police escort with their blue lights switched on, overweight school children begging for dollars, pounds and even euros (!), and an officially endorsed two-tier pricing system as racist as you can get.

Matt: Attending Herlina & Juryansyah’s traditional Malay Indonesian wedding reception aka resepsi pernikahan (“the more the merrier”), wishing them the best of luck and enjoying the racy music, the elaborate food and the entertaining company.

“Men marry women with the hope they will never change.
Women marry men with the hope they will change.
Invariably they are both disappointed.”

Matt: Finding an ojek for the short ride to the airport (c. 8 km, ¼ hour, IDR 25,000.-), flying uneventfully with Trigana Air (“We Serve You Here, There and Everywhere” - outside Europe, because the optimistic airline has been on the List of Airlines Banned in the EU since 2007) in a vintage Boeing 737-400 from Pangkalan Bun’s Iskandar Airport over the Java Sea to Semarang’s Achmad Yani International Airport for IDR 555,000.- or exactly US$ 50.00 per person (plus the idiotic IDR 11,000.- or US$ 1.00 “domestic passenger service charge” [airport departure tax], charged separately to the ticket at Pangkalan Bun’s overstaffed country airport), one way and all inclusive, and taking a city bus (IDR 3.500.- per person) from the bus stop near the airport to my next hostel, located right in the centre of Semarang, the “Paris of Java”.

Click below for more blog posts about other beer-free Muslim strongholds
2013 Map Konni & Matt

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From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life:
It’s bad to be right in the end;
It’s good to live your dreams.
Keep your bearings!