The Road Travelled Less - Pontianak
Trip Start Aug 02, 2007
7Trip End Aug 12, 2007
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Downtown Pontianak didn't give much of a first impression apart from messy and dusty (at least to me).. so I was glad that Imp decided to try looking for rooms at the Grand Mahkota Hotel which was in a quiet location not far from the river and downtown.. Never has a 3-star hotel with small rooms felt so luxurious (it's amazing what grimy streets and a torturous journey can do)! Even the Malaysian tourism minister stayed there while attending a conference.. so no prizes for guessing which is one of the best hotels in Pontianak!
A long day awaited us on 10 Aug.. we walked around the old colonial and chinese (according to Imp the expert) and took in many of the sights, such as the Santo Yosef Church, a dual-function stadium with shops (Imp's favourite building), bustling marketplace along the river and dozens of passenger and cargo boats lining the pier.. the spirit of place is really alive, though a little too dirty for my liking.. haha.. I mean, I saw a stall owner dip a bucket into a sewer drain and washed his arms and legs with it.. EEEeeee! So GROSS! Though it was definitely a sight to behold - daily local life unfolding before my eyes.. just don't touch me!!
The warm morning air soon heated up in the raging mid-day sun and we found ourselves back in the cool hotel room to seek refuge from the scorching weather and enjoy a nice refreshing drink of nata de coco.. However, as it was our last (and only) day in Ponti, Imp forced me off my lazy ass and we had a quick, but absolutely yummy, Satay lunch in town (I don't want to know how they washed the food / hands / plates) before heading for the water kampong on the opposite bank of the Kapuas River.. local style!
I'm really glad that we made the trip to the water kampong cos it sure was an eye-opener for me! Apart from the two main historical buildings - the grand mosque and istana, the settlement itself was an area of interest where half the houses are built on water, somewhat like a mini Venice of Indonesia.. the people can paddle or swim to each other's houses instead of walking.. cool right! It's like having your own (cheap) marina! Well, maybe swimming is not a good idea.. the water didn't look that clean.. haha..
Apart from engaging in water activities and posing gamely for tourists, the people (or more specificaly, kids) also play with pigeons.. I wonder how they train the birds.. guy 1 stands with a pigeon in his hand, held such that it can flap its wings but not fly away.. guy 2 will stand a distance away with another pigeon.. guy 2 releases his bird, guy 1 will swing his hand up and down so the bird in hand (worth 2 in the bush.. hee) flaps wildly.. then guy 2's pigeon will fly straight to guy 1.. and then.. CATCH! Interesting huh.. Though I'm not too sure on the animal cruelty part.. doesn't sound very nice for the pigeons.. but then again, if the birds don't like it, why do they let the kids play with them.. hmm.. ponder ponder..