Welcome to Indonesia.
￼Indonesia, a country with 17.500 islands, starts for me (of course) with a ferryboat to one of these islands. The island is called Bintan. One the ferry I immediately find my bicycle again. After one or two hours the boat arrives at the southwest located town Tanjung Pinang. As I said in Singapore the ferry terminal looked like a small airport, now in Bintan I have to carry my luggage and my bicycle alone down from the ferry. They accept my 60 days visa and x-ray my luggage. Then I load my bicycle, but suddenly very heavy rain starts and the friendly jung officers offer me to wait in the border control area. They are very interested in my travel and we talk a bit. Outside it’s going crazy, I am happy to have a shelter and friendly people around me. As it gets less rain I go out and start cycling to the other side of the island, to Kijang.
In the afternoon I arrive in Kijang and go directly to the harbor where I expect to find the Pelni office to buy my ferry ticket to Pontianak on Borneo island. On the way to the harbor a scooter driver asks me where I want to go, I explain to father and son, that I look for the Pelni office. They offer me to show the way. Ok, great. It’s not far, but unfortunately it’s closed. They invite me to have a break at their house, and a bit later they offer me to stay over night. As I wanted to be on the safe side I arrived two nights before the ferry leaves to Borneo. In the evening the father shows me around in the small town Kijang by scooter.
The next day I tell them that I would like to cycle to the closest beach to go swimming one last time, because on Borneo I will cycle inland all the time. They tell me that the beach is far away, more than 30 km, and the son (in the middle) could go there with me by scooter. A friend joins and we go swimming. Today I have more luck, the Pelni office is open and I can buy my ferry ticket.
We come back safe and dry. A bit later heavy rain starts. Immediately the earth is underwater and the water is trying to enter the house.
I stay another night in the house of the family before I leave to the nearby harbor the next day. Quite punctual the big Pelni ship, with the name Bukit Raya (“Grand Hill”), arrives. In the waiting hall I meet Roni with the Bayern München shirt, who will be great company and help for me on the ship. It is a ferry for passengers only, I have to carry my bicycle up the stairs.
The ferry takes almost three days till Pontianak, it follows in a big semicircle along the islands. Roni visits his mother in his small home island Midai.
At every stop some sellers come on the ship and sell their goods. At some islands the ferry arrives in the middle of the night and at small ports it doesn’t land at all, a small ship brings and takes people to the island.
The first morning the Bukit Raya lands at the nice looking village Tarempa. Roni translates me how long the ferry will stay in the harbor. We have time to go on land and walk around in the village.
That’s how my bed looks like, there are several dorms in the ship, in my room it has 70 beds. Not all beds are in use, but it is very hot and humid.
In the evening we enjoy an amazing sunset. We, because there are to more foreign travellers on board. Birgit and Josef, a couple from Austria, they are on a big world trip and also started about one year ago. Mostly they are traveling with public transportation, they followed the silk road.
The second evening the ferry stops in Natuna. When the ship continues it’s way, I suddenly see more bicycles on board. They look very heavy and special. Later on Borneo I see similar bicycles again, I couldn’t clearly identify it, but it seemed they use them for a kind of transportation of heavy wood.
The ferry ticket, about 25 €, includes three times food per day as well. Basically it’s the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a little variation of fish, egg or vegetable. But sadly, shame on me, every time in a stupid one way plastic plate.
The last stop before Pontianak is at Serasan island, again a kind of taxi boat is doing the transport.
On the ship I have plenty of time to relax and simply enjoy the endless view over the ocean. I listen to music, do some sport and chill in the sun.
Pelni is the national shipping company. Most of the ships were built in Germany, so was the Bukit Raya, too.
The weather sceneries are great, on one side of the boat the sun is going down and on the other side we see a big beautiful rainbow.
The last evening I walk around on the ship and eventually I get invited by some youth to join their table. They offer me a can of beer, which is kind of forbidden, so they are proud of it, but we have to hide the beer under the table. The girls don’t drink, but want to take selfies and pictures with me. The ferry arrives much earlier than planned. They clean the dorms a bit. It’s about midnight and I cycle through the quiet city to a nearby cheap hotel.
Pontianak is a big city, it has the same number of inhabitants like Nuremberg, about 500.000. During day it isn’t quiet anymore, a lot of traffic is moving up and down the streets. I decide to do one rest day and visit the equator monument before I start my ride through Kalimantan. I just realized it some days ago that Pontianak is a equatorial city. It is the place where I cross the equator the first time in my life. At 12 o’clock I leave the hotel and cycle to the nearby monument. As a shortcut I take a ferry across the river. The Bukit Raya is still waiting in the harbor.
The monument is not that impressive at all, but knowing that I stand right at the equator, one leg on the northern hemisphere and one leg on the southern hemisphere, feel very special.
After the short visit I cycle back to the city and check in, in a very nice new hostel. On my way I pass some old looking climbing walls.
To earn some money during I cycle, I buy a trailer. It’s a sugarcane juice trailer. 😉
Tomorrow will be a special day for me, because it’s my birthday. In the nice new hostel I sleep in the dorm, but I am more or less the only guest and have the dorm for my own. I sleep quite long and after a good breakfast I finally start cycling again.
My birthday present for myself is a more than 100 km long ride more or less parallel along the equator. (Theoratically it would only take about one year to circuit the earth along the equator, if I would cycle like this every day. 😉 )
The area is flat and after I leave the busy city traffic behind me, I enjoy doing good progress with the help of a little tailwind.
Soon I see the first warning signs about destroying the rainforest.