Another broken down bus on a trip to the Southern Hemisphere

Pontianak Travel Blog

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I'm over the moon to be in the Northern and Southern hemisphere at the same time!

People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Juliana (Russia)

Our time in Malaysia had come to an end and we caught an early morning bus from Kuching to Pontianak, ready for a new country and hopefully a whole new experience. We reached the border by 'express' coach around 10.30am and were pretty quickly into Indonesia, as we already had our visas issued in Kuching. The first sign that we were in a new country was the obvious decline in the standards of the roads. This clearly didn't help the predicament of our bus, as it bounced around the crumbling tarmac. The seats were pretty filthy and most kept recliing whenever you put weight on to them. It therefore came as little surprise that after our lunch stop, the bus decided that it was due an extended rest and decided not to start.

Julia straddling the equator

Nearly 3 hours later and a new coach arrived to take us the remaining 5 hours to Pontianak. At first glance it looked pretty swanky, with only 3 large seats filling a row. As all the locals piled on to the bus, we were left to move our bags from the old bus onto the new one and subsequently got lumbered with the very back seats. They were on a slightly raised platform that meant that your feet dangled over the edge and once again any weight led to the seats reclining. As the road worsened and we began to be thrown around even more, 2 thoughts were crossing my mind. The first was 'what the hell am i letting myself in for', the second was 'wicked, it feels like i'm back in the 'real' Asia again!'

Stupidly upon arrival we decided to go to a Lying Planet recommended hotel, which after walking the streets for 30 minutes in the rain, we found didn't actually exist, thanks a lot.

Equator monument
Instead we managed to find a hotel that was actually an army hostel! So we had gone from staying in a church to staying with the army, quite a contrast, but amusing nevertheless. We grabbed some street food (chicken and rice) and went home for an early night. Around 11pm we got a knock on our door and it was Hannes and Marcus who we met in Malaysia and Philippies, we had a brief chat but needed some sleep so sent them on their way!

The following day we went to but some ferry tickets to Java, but were slightly horrified to find that the 2 day trip would be in either a cabin of nearly 200 people, or just on the deck if there were none of these tickets left. Before she had time to check, i asked if she could look at flights for us.

Istana Kadriyah
When she informed us that for an extra $3 we could fly i nearly bit her hand off! We left the travel agency delighted and caught a ferry across the river and set off walking to the 'nearby' equator monument. I say 'nearby' as we went by Lousy Planets map. It ended up been more like 5km in the baking heat.

It was the second time i had travelled to the equator, the first time occuring near to Quito in Ecuador and this was a far more low key ordeal. There was a large monument and small museum inside, which in all honesty i found a huge disappointment. In Ecuador, you could balance an egg on a pin, watch the different directions a toilet flushes etc and i'd hoped for something similarly fun. I guess that due to the lack of tourists - we only saw Hannes and Marcus in our time here - there is no call for anything so fancy as a pin and egg ;)

We caught a bemo back to the ferry, which did the 2 minute shuttle across the river and then went for a walk through the city, which i found to be pretty dirty and grubby.

A look down Pontianaks Sungai Kapuas
We looked at Istana Kadriyah from over the river and then began to head back to our hotel. We ate in a KFC rip off for Dinner called CFC, which was actually ok as far as fast food goes, with tomato in the burger instead of those horrible pickle things or whatever McDonalds put in theirs! We caught up with writing some postcards and tried to get an early night as the army guys blasted out karaoke and sang us to sleep.

We decided to leave plenty of time to catch our plane the following day and set off for our flight 3 hours before it left. The taxi ride passed by quicker than expected and we arrived with two and a half hours to spare. It was at this point that we realised that we had been going on the wrong time for the last 3 days and the clocks had actually changed - that or my clock had stopped for an hour at some point.

Stilt houses lining Sungai Kapuas
We were therefore left to twiddle our thumbs for way longer than expected.

We eventually checked in our bags and were told that our flight ticket was incorrect and that i had to pay an extra $5 to get it re-issued. I was kindly told that i could claim this back from the agent who sold it to me - fat lot of good that was! I politely told them that there was no way i was paying for someone elses mistake and after some umming, arring and phone calls, they billed the travel agents for their mistake. Thats one thing that really annoys me about many Asian countries, they always think that because you are a foreigner that you have the money to pay for their mistakes. When we did finally get to check in, we found it rather disconcerting that at no point of buying the ticket and then never once checking in, were we asked to provide any proof of ID. Add onto this that the local budget airlines have a history of crashing and flights just simply disappearing and we were rather nervous about boarding. Thankfully our 90 minute flights only problem was that it was slightly delayed, thus landing in Jakarta, we were able to smile in relief.

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Im over the moon to be in the Nor…
I'm over the moon to be in the No…
Julia straddling the equator
Julia straddling the equator
Equator monument
Equator monument
Istana Kadriyah
Istana Kadriyah
A look down Pontianaks Sungai Kapu…
A look down Pontianaks Sungai Kap…
Stilt houses lining Sungai Kapuas
Stilt houses lining Sungai Kapuas
Pontianak
photo by: alexchan