A Long way to Borneo

I arrived in Pontianak by ferry from Jakarta around 5:00 pm and couldn’t wait to get off the ferry. I’d been in the ferry for 40 hours and that was probably the most boring time in my life. Because I already had a special exception from the Indonesian government, the ferry ride was again free. This ferry was different from the ferry before because they had two separate rooms. One was just a big room with no chairs or anything and everyone just sat on the floor. I didn’t mind this place so much until a lot of guys started coming in and they started to smoke, even though there is a “No Smoking“ sign there, and it horrified me because I thought I was going to sit there for 40 hours inhaling all that smoke.

Room #1

Room #1

But finally I moved to other room, with bunk beds and not so many people there. Maybe not more than 15 people there. And it did feel a lot safer and nicer.

Room #2

Room #2

I was the first one to come on the ferry because they had to load my motor bike on first before all the trucks and the cars. After me, three teenagers from Afghanistan came and soon we became friends. I arrived around 2 pm and they came around 3 pm and around 4:30 pm lots of people came. The ferry did not start moving until midnight. When I moved to the bunk beds room I asked the officials how much it was going to be to upgrade the room and I found you only had to pay 31.000 IDR /Person, so I asked the Afghans to come with me because they also felt unsafe there. On this ferry there were so many scams! Before we knew how much the official rate to upgrade the room was, a few people came to us and offered to upgrade the rooms for 250.000 IDR/2 persons. The scams didn’t stop there. When we moved to the bunk beds room and waited there, two people came in, one a guy with a security uniform and the other was a drunk man and both threatened us and asked for money because they thought the Afghans were illegal immigrants and I was one of them. I told them the captain knows I am here and told them I will call the captain if they didn’t leave, and so finally they left. It’s such a shame I didn’t get a chance to take their picture, but I reported them to the officials.

It was almost 6 pm when I finally got my scooter off the ferry, and I continued to drive toward the border because it’s around a 5 hours drive from Pontianak to Entikong with a car and with my scooter probably longer.  Finally around 9, I stopped at the small shop where the truckers stop in Indonesia. We call this place a “Warung”  and the owner lady insisted I stopped and stay overnight there because its late.

The small shop A.K.A Warung

The small shop A.K.A Warung

Around this area there is not much of a signal for a mobile phone, and the only place where there is a little mobile phone signal is on top of their fridges, but you cannot move or touch your mobile phone, just put it on top of one of those fridges and put it on loudspeaker if you want to make a phone call. I found it really funny.

Those magic fridges.

Those magic fridges.

After I finished talking with all those people in the shop, I was ready for bed, and brushed my teeth. I brushed my teeth in front of the shop in parking area, and the owner lady says to me there is a bathroom in the back of the shop that I can use. I usually don’t like to use bathrooms like this so much because in most places that I stop the bathroom is far away in back of the house and it’s really hard for me to get there because the dirt is wet and so slippery. But at this shop the bathroom is placed right behind the shop so it’s okay. But I was shocked when I found the water in the bathroom was a funny color. I had never seen water like that before unless it was in drainage. I decided I was not going to shower or brush my teeth with that water, so I swallowed the bubbles of my toothpaste and went to bed. Later on I found out the water around the area is always this color and it’s clean. For someone who’d never seen clean water that color, I think I chose the safest way, considering I still had a long journey ahead and being sick was not an option.

The red water

The red water

The place I slept

The place I slept

I woke up at 5 am and it was already bright outside, so I continued to drive towards Entikong.  And for the first time in forever it was mist and not haze. Everything surrounding me was so pretty and the air was fresh. I even got a chance to see a wild pig cross the road. And also saw another truck crash.

Misty Morning #1

Misty Morning #1

Misty Morning #2

Misty Morning #2

Misty Morning #3

Misty Morning #3

Why did the pig cross the road?

Why did the pig cross the road?

Crash

Crash

But like everything else in life, good things don’t last forever. In this case the road got very bad and dusty soon after an hour’s drive from where I slept last night. The truckers warned me about that so I am all prepared and after the Tanjung api-api seaport after Tsunami-like roads nothing scares me anymore. Bad roads here I come!

Bad roads

Bad roads

I was happy to finally have made it to Entikong, the border that brought me to the Malaysian side, Tebedu. The police at the border said I was not allowed to leave Indonesia with Scoo but then, finally, the customs officers helped and Malaysian Department of Transport also helped. Since I began this trip, every time I stopped at the police office, all the officers had been nice and helpful. It was a different story at the border. While I was talking to the police officer at the border, people came and gave him money. I think it was bribe money for every signature that he made for anyone who had a vehicle and wanted to cross the border. I was so annoyed with him. So when Indonesian customs and Malaysian side helped, I was beyond happy. I needed a special permit from a Malaysian government office and I couldn’t go there because it was already 3pm on Friday and from Tebedu to Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, is around 2 hours drive.

Me at the border

Me at the border

On Monday I went to the government office in Kuching and found the people who need to sign my documents are in a meeting away from the office and won’t be back until 2 pm. The office promised me I could go to border and collect Scoo and they would fax the paperwork around 2 pm. So we started to drive to the border at 12.30 pm and I saw this on my way to Tebedu. I found it really amusing.

Huge gorilla sitting in toilet statue

Huge gorilla sitting in toilet statue

Arrived in Tebedu border only to find the Department of Transport cannot receive the fax because the telephone cable had been stolen. They told me that so far this month, it had been stolen 11 times. Instead, the documents were emailed to them. It was big relief. After they received the email, I had to go back to the Indonesian office to collected more paperwork and met up with the annoying police officer again. This time he couldn’t say anything because I already had the permit from the Malaysian side! The customs officers all are happy to help me again, and returning back to the Malaysian side I bought insurance for 70 RM, and finally here is my special International Circulation Permit!!!

International Circulation Permit

International Circulation Permit

What do you think?