Thursday, 30 May 2013

Sheraton Bandara Jakarta

 The Spa
 Linjani Coffee Shop
Maxis Lounge 
We (Mr. Zhou, the geologist and myself) stayed at the Sheraton Bandara Jakarta on our final night (29 May 2013) in Indonesia which is situated 3 km from the airport as we do not want to get caught up in the traffic on the way to the airport and missed our flights (ie. if we have stayed in the city centre). After experiencing 3 nights of sub-standard accommodation in the interiors of West Kalimantan, the Sheraton Bandara is paradise on earth! With a huge landscaped garden and large lake, you will never imagined that you are actually in a city. Mr. Zhou left the hotel at 7.30am for his flight to Guangzhou, departing at 9.05am and I was left alone to explore this wonderful hotel. As it is miles out of the city, I'm not planning on going anywhere so I had breakfast at the Linjani Coffee Shop and had a foot reflexology at the spa after that. Left the hotel on the complimentary shuttle at 12.30pm to the airport to catch the flight to Singapore and then from Singapore to Brunei at 9.15pm. However, BI424 to Brunei was delayed for one hour due to a problem with the aircraft and I finally reached Brunei after midnight. What a hectic week but I'm not complaining as the experience is unforgettable! For more photos of Sheraton Bandara, click here.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Sanggau, West Kalimantan

This is probably the only temple we saw during our journey. Mosques and churches are more commonly seen in West Kalimantan.
This morning, we left Sintang at 8.20am to return to Pontianak where we will be catching the 8.30pm flight back to Jakarta. We stopped at a small town called Sanggau for lunch at around noon and took some photos of the street of Sanggau. We finally reached Pontianak at 6.15pm and had dinner at Dr. Larry's house before going to the airport. The flight to Jakarta was uneventful except for the aborted landing due to bad weather. Gave us a fright not to mention the delay as we left the airport at 10.30pm. Tonight, the geologist and myself will be staying at the Sheraton Bandara, a mere 3 km away from the airport.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Gold Prospecting @ Semangguk

Reached Semangguk at 2.30pm (on 27 May 2013) and started discussions with the local guides on how best to explore the gold mining locations. Eventually, we decided to visit Bukit Lubuk (the southern part of the area) as there's a dirt road which is accessible on scramblers. Two local guides took the Chinese geologist and myself on a rollercoaster ride for 6 km on the wet and muddy dirt road to the edge of the jungle where we trekked for about 1 km to our intended destination. We came out from the jungle at around 5.30pm. 

That night we were put up at a lodging house called "Losmen", a six room lodging house on the first floor of a shophouse with a common bathroom. Each room costs Rp60,000-00 which is equivalent to B$8-00. At that price, don't expect any services as you have to bring your own soap, shampoo and bath towel! A small fan was provided in each room and there's no air-conditioning. And to make our stay more uncomfortable, the power supply came on and off and eventually went off totally at 4.00am! It was raining the whole night and we were very worried as we were supposed to visit another site when dawn breaks. 

Behind me is our target, Bukit Ketam
The view from the peak; the guide told me that Sarawak is on the horizon
Fortunately, the rain stopped but we were still worried as the jungle trail and slopes would still be wet and slippery making our hike much more dangerous. We started at 8.15am (on 28 May 2013) and reached the peak of Bukit Ketam two hours later. All along the slopes, local miners were seen extracting gold using primitive methods. I fell at least a dozen times coming down the hill (different route from where we went up) but fortunately my guide was able to grab my backpack every time I slipped. We also have to cross five muddy streams to get out of the jungle. We finally came out of the jungle at 2.30pm and by then, I have cramps on the most unlikely parts of my body, on my muscles above my knee cap and the front part of my thigh! 

 Street outside the hotel
After a quick shower, we left Semangguk at 5.00pm for Sintang and reached Sintang at 10.00pm where we were put up at the "Hotel Sartika Puri", another hotel that is way below par (at least there's air-con) but then again it's only Rp200,000 (B$26-00) so we were not expecting much. The above photos were taken the next morning before returning to Pontianak.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Batu Kelam @ Sintang

After sleeping for about 4 hours at Pelangi Hotel, we continued our journey towards Semangguk, 280 km east of Sekadau. Leaving right after breakfast at 8.00am (on 27-5-2013), we stopped at Batu Kelam, near a small town called Sintang at about 11.00am to snap a few pictures of Batu Kelam which is reputed to be the second largest rock formation in the world after Darwin's Ayers Rock. It is said that it changes its colour depending on the weather (that we did not witness). There's a small "rumah makan" near the road overlooking Batu Kelam where we ordered coffee and enjoyed the view from a distance before continuing our journey.   

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Journey to Pontianak

 My travelling companions, Dr. Larry & Zhou, a geologist
 The Governor's (of West Kalimantan) car 
At Dr. Larry's home in Pontianak
 Our driver, Rully
 Pelangi Hotel at Sekadau
On 26 May 2013, we took a plane from Jakarta to Pontianak on Garuda Indonesia, departing at 2.00pm and arriving at Pontianak at 3.30pm. The Governor of West Kalimantan was also on the same flight and as our Special Advisor, Dr. Larry is a friend of the Governor, we were invited to tea at the VIP Lounge at Pontianak Airport but unfortunately I was too shy to ask for a photo session. From the airport, we went to Dr. Larry's home for a brief stop and then proceeded by car (Toyota Avanza) to Sekadau, 250km away. The journey lasted 7 hours and 15 minutes (it took this long as the road condition is very bad with potholes everywhere!), arriving at Sekadau at 1.30am on 27 May 2013! At Sekadau, we stayed at the Pelangi Hotel (rate: Rp120,000 per room) which is very rundown and lacking in maintenance but then again, all hotels outside of Pontianak are more or less in that condition! We will be sleeping for only a few hours and will continue our journey to Semangguk early in the morning.