Amazing artwork done by @msdarlingtonia I couldn’t have asked for a better going away gift… If you’re looking for dope, local art, you need to fux wit this one :) #art #painting #icanreadandihopeyoucantoobecausebooksarestraightupawesome
Just dug this out and fell in love with it all over again #grouchandeligh #bizarro #livinglegends #vinyl #records #hiphop #music #analogisbetterthandigital
This was my anthem for hella long :) #vinyl #records #odb #oldirtybastard #wutangclan #hiphop #music #analogisbetterthandigital #love
After bucket-showers, sweat instead of sleep, and young men cavorting in the halls and bathroom; I got out of bed, grainy-eyed and weary, determined to find a better place to have nightmares.
Many goodbyes from the well-meaning-but-deafeningly-loud fresh-faced youngsters later, I packed up and was on my way. Headed “downtown” to find the big fancy hotel I had spied on my way in. It was called Mahkota Kayong Hotel. An empty, sprawling edifice with a handful of semi-comatose employees who were occasionally roused to perform marginal duties.
Giant, abandoned spaces are the kind I love to explore, so I was smitten with the place immediately. I could imagine retiring there, drinking cheap cocktails on the dusty, teak veranda in my doddering old age. Forgetting about the rest of the world. Telling wacky tall tales to anyone that will listen.
Back to Mahkota Kayong - They had me at the private shower. I settled into my new digs feeling rather abashed at my lack of fortitude. A real adventurer would have embraced the challenge of the William S Burroughs room but I just didn’t have it in me…Instead, I played at being a rich girl on holiday in the undoubtedly haunted Mahkota, the kind of place I’d never be able to afford if it existed anywhere besides in a remote village on the western coast of Borneo.
So the barista asked me what my favorite animal was and this is what I got when I told him… It’s the little things, you know? #soymilk #latte #piedmont #oakland #california (at Gaylord’s Caffe Espresso)
Still grand despite the scaffolding… #masjidmujahidin #pontianak #borneo #indonesia #travel #adventure #americanwoman #veganomad
Finally, finally, after three nights in Pontianak, one useless fastboat ticket, many tears, and inadvertently smoked cigarettes later…I made it to Sukadana. My hopes had been high, I’ll admit it. After all, any place that was so hard to get to should be well worth the trip. But from the get go, I could see that the waters were unswimmable, the beaches littered with garbage, and the town itself, not quite the quaint jungle village I had imagined.
Fuck it, I thought to myself as I trudged along the dusty road through town, smiling wanly at the agape locals, trying my best to look like I knew where I was going. All I wanted was a cold beer and a colder shower. At this point I didn’t care how pretty, or not, the town was. So I headed to a homestay listed in my guidebook. Actually it was the homestay because Sukadana wasn’t exactly a tourist destination.
Before I get any further, I want to make it clear that I’m not complaining. Getting off the beaten path to a place like Sukadana was just what I wanted. I simply had no idea what to expect so I made up an idea of my own. An ethnocentric, uninformed, romanticized idea, yes, which was cause for a great deal of reflection on my own ignorance and stereotypes later on.
Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, heading to the single homestay in town, owned by the Pangilapan Family, or something. Once I got there I was greeted by a large group of fresh-faced youngsters in uniform, all preparing to go out for a run in the 30 degree weather. They all smiled and shouted hello but were immediately brought to task by their unsmiling captain. I couldn’t tell if they were police in training, army recruits, or what. In any case, they were incredibly sweet and well-mannered.
A young woman approached where I stood sweating, faded, and unsteady in the blasting furnace-like heat. “”Can I help you? she spoke in soft, uncertain, but clear English.
"I’d like a room, please?" I replied, trying my best to look like someone she’d want in her place of business.
"Only economy room available" she said, almost smirking. I wasn’t sure why.
"Fifty thousand rupiah"
"I’ll take it!" I yelped, excited at the price tag. Fifty thousand rupiah is about four dollars.
She led me up rickety wooden stairs, through a dismal hallway lit by a single bulb, and towards a stained and battered door. After wrestling a bit with the key, she managed to open the room and let me in. Then she vanished back down the stairs, leaving me to soak in the ambiance.
I felt like I had been thrust into a William S Burroughs novel, all I was missing was some good heroin and a typewriter. I set my pack down reluctantly in the corner. Opened a window. Closed it again after seeing the piles of refuse outside. Tried the ceiling fan which lethargically pushed the air around. Looked for the toilet. No toilet. What?!
I went back downstairs to find the young woman and her somewhat dour mother(?). “Toilet?” I asked hopefully.
The young woman led me back upstairs and showed me a concrete closet with a squat toilet and a bucket shower inside. I felt the city-girl inside me cringe and maybe even squeal a little, but I refused to let my disappointment show since I was sure this young girl was waiting to see my expression.
"So…no toilet in room?" I asked again, as if by repeating my question enough times, I could make a toilet magically appear.
The young girl smiled again but this time with a very faint edge, Spoiled brat of a Western woman, I could almost hear her thinking. And then she turned and went back downstairs. Discussion over.
Well, well. I contemplated my room. Then I contemplated the bucket shower, squat toilet. Then back to my room. Fuck it, I thought to myself. It’s all part of the adventure, right? Really, I felt disappointed in my inner Indiana Jones for caring so much.
Pursing my lips and squaring my shoulders. I resolved to use the bucket shower. My clothes were sticky with sweat and my hair frizzy with dark, briny river/ocean water. I really had no choice. It was bucket shower, or bust.
After my bucket shower (which wasn’t that bad, actually, just took kind of a long time) I went out for some food, then came back to lay, sweating (again) on my much misused mattress and stare at the ceiling fan. Exhaustion overcame me and I fell into a deep, yet troubled sleep.
Loud clapping and singing. Boisterous feet clattering through the hall. Sounds of running water and splashing. I groggily fought to regain consciousness as these terrible sounds intruded on the nightmares I had so peaceably been having.
I recognized the gang of youths I had seen downstairs yesterday. They were an excitable lot, I thought as I listened to them yelling in the hallways and having what sounded like bucket-shower parties in the bathroom. They’ll be done soon, I mumbled to myself sleepily, and sure enough after twenty minutes or so, the noise subsided.
But not for long. An hour (or less?) later, the clapping, singing, running in the hall, and bucket-shower parties ensued again. I growled and pulled the bed-buggy pillow over my head, silently cursing them. It will be over soon, I told myself again. And it was.
But not for long. For the rest of the night, I was woken up at strange intervals to the sounds of these young men cavorting in the hall and in the bathroom. It really took everything I had to not run out into the hall and curse them all soundly. In the end I could only laugh at the absurdity of the situation.
So, after two days of trying to get out of Pontianak, I was finally on my way. The guys at the pier were all celebrating with me and there were many photo ops to be had, although I think they were probably more excited to get rid of me than anything else. In any case, my elation was contagious and I boarded the small longboat with high hopes for Sukadana. I imagined gorgeous beaches and turquoise waters hemmed by steamy jungles full of prowling tigers and dripping with mangoes. For the next three to six hours as we jolted along the muddy waterways and I drank in the sights of locals living on the river; visions of rampant wildlife, azure oceans, and chromatic profusions of exotic fruits and flowers danced around in my head. I think I’ve read way too much Rudyard Kipling because my expectations weren’t even close.
When I finally arrived at Sukadana with a sore ass from being bounced around during the boat trip, the first thing I noticed was the ocean water. It was brown. Not like a light, almost translucent brown either. No, the shit was like mud soup. I worked hard to conceal my disappointment, determined to make the best of whatever came my way after how fucking difficult it had been to get here in the first place. So, I ignored the water and looked toward the little town.
Our boat docked and I hauled my aching self out, already sweating from a heat even more intense than what I had experienced in Pontianak. Blinking and wiping sweat from my eyes, I shouldered my pack and made my way into town, waving at the surprised locals who were obviously wondering what the fuck I was doing there. At the moment, I was wondering the same thing myself.
This was the view from a beautiful cafe that I was lucky enough to find on my third and last night in Pontianak, a city that it turns out, was loathe to let me go. That morning I had woken up early, excited to be headed south towards Sukadana, a nowhere town on the southwestern coast of Borneo, that my guidebook had suggested was worth a three (five) hour longboat trip from Pontianak.
So I woke up, packed and went downstairs to catch a ride to the pier and hopefully a boat to Sukadana. Before myself and my erstwhile escort even reached the longboat pier, I knew we had trouble. We were intercepted along the dock by fastboat workers telling me that the longboat wasn’t running and trying to sell me a ticket to Ketapang, a town I would never visit but would hear much of nontheless. I motioned for my driver to keep going to the longboat pier. We almost reached it when we were diverted again by random dock workers who insisted that the longboat was not available.
I was losing my patience by this time, wondering where in the fuck this elusive longboat to Sukadana was, and why everyone seemed to be trying their best to keep me from reaching it. After some discussion between my driver-pal and a dock worker, I finally decided that I had better catch the boat to Ketapang, just so I could finally get the hell out of Pontianak and on my way.
Back to the fastboat pier. The scruffy dockworkers ogled me as I purchased a not inexpensive fastboat ticket and climbed aboard, resigned to a forced visit to Ketapang. As I settled into my seat, I took a closer look at my ticket, and then my map, belatedly realizing that I would have to travel eight hours by boat to a city two hours south of my original destination, only to have to get right back on a bus and head back up north to Sukadana. I felt my blood pressure rise. A four hour journey turning into ten is not something I take lightly.
Knowing that I was causing a scene, but too frustrated to really care, I grabbed my pack and bustled my way back off the boat, determined to catch that longboat to Sukadana if it killed me.
I almost ran all the way back down the docks to where the longboat pier was, finally managing to find it on my own. I ran over to the small shack housing a young man with a cell-phone and a thick ledger, whom I dubbed the gatekeeper.
He was already surrounded by locals trying to get tickets of their own. I attempted to join the melee despite the surprised and disgruntled looks of people around me.
“Can I help you?” a middle-aged man in a striped polo shirt asked me.
“I need a ticket to Sukadana,” I replied, trying hard to keep the demand from my voice.
He spoke rapidly to the gatekeeper who answered with a terse “No” and barely looked at me.
“Sorry, miss, boat is full, you come back tomorrow.” the man said apologetically, clearly sensing my distress. He really didn’t want to have to tell me.
I waved him aside and attempted to ask the gatekeeper myself.
“Boat, today?” I queried
Gatekeeper briskly shook his head while giving out tickets to other passengers… I eyed those slips of paper like a starving woman. Another night in Pontianak was just not an option.
I resolved to sit on one of the little wooden benches at the pier until they either let me on, or, or, well I hadn’t thought that far. Twenty, then thirty minutes passed. The gatekeeper and his assistant looked at me questioningly but said nothing. They loaded up the boat. I watched jealously. Then it left.
I sat there for a moment, watching it pull away, wondering if it would suddenly pull around and pick me up. Nope. Defeated, I gathered up my pack and attempted to run back and catch my fastboat before it left. I arrived just in time to watch that boat pull away as well.
My fucking terrible timing.
The tears welled up almost instantly and although I wanted to stop them, I couldn’t. My forward motion had been thwarted and I hate that almost more than anything else. When you’re traveling on a limited amount of time, every lost second hurts.
I made my snuffling, dejected way back to the longboat pier, ignoring friendly and curious stares as I scrubbed tears from my cheeks and sobbed not quietly. Yes I was that girl.
I arrived back at the pier, empty save for the gatekeeper and his comrade and dejectedly sat on the little wooden bench again.
After a while of me sitting silently, the comrade approached. “You buy ticket for tomorrow?” he offered hopefully.
I sucked in my pout and nodded yes, reserving a boat for nine am the next day and resigning myself to another day and night in Pontianak.
I returned to Mess Hijas like a puppy with her tail between her legs. They didn’t seem surprised to see me and I’m sure the debacle of my attempt at buying a ticket had arrived before I had. I checked back in and unloaded my things in my little room.
Back in the lobby, I made some tea, while feeling marginally sorry for myself. I almost bumped into another foreigner. After the morning I’d had, he was a refreshing sight to behold.
“Hello!” I greeted him almost too desperately, fighting the urge to cling to his arm.
“Hello” he answered in a kind voice.
For the next few hours we sat and talked about how our mornings both sucked and how nice it was to run into someone with whom we could rant.
We spent the whole day talking and resolved to find a nice place to have a few beers, something we both needed after our bad mornings. And so we ended up at a cafe with the view pictured above, eating french fries, drinking beer with ice, and telling crazy travel stories.
Looking back, it was the perfect start to my adventures in Borneo…
Can’t sleep so I decided to write instead. Feels so surreal to be back in my little apartment since only three days ago I was breathing the heady, humid air of Jakarta. My time in Indonesia flew past at an almost warp-speed like pace. One moment I was stepping off the plane in Jakarta, the next, stepping onto another one headed for Bali. Borneo happened in an eyeblink, and now I’m home. But it doesn’t feel like home, it never has and it’s yet another reason I have to travel. I still haven’t found a place, still haven’t found my place. I know in my heart that it’s out there, that once I find it, I’ll settle down for real, but until then, my wanderlust spurs me on. Less than three days into my return and I’m already plotting how to escape again…