PONTIANAK – SANDAI – PANGKALAN BUN
The Trans Borneo Expedition 2014 (TB2014) is organised by JAVA Adventura headed by its CEO and Expedition Leader, Pak Harry Sanusi from Indonesia. The 4WD Expedition event successfully circumnavigate the island of Borneo over more than 6,200 Km taking a total of 23 days. TB2014 had 75 participants and 25 vehicles from 4 nations Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia and Singapore. This is part 2 of a 6 part feature.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
After crossing the border passed Entikong, the roads in West Kalimantan are narrower and although the roads were sealed, it is still bad and there were lots of pot holes which slows down the convoy. Houses along the roadside were also built right next to the main road so the convoy have to be very careful to avoid on coming motorist and vehicles.
The flag off ceremony was on schedule with the singing of the Indonesia’s National Anthem and before long we were on the road. Since it was Indonesia’s Independence Day, throughout Kalimantan, the road sides were decorated with the national flag which made our journey more meaningful and colourful. Our first day was to reach the township of Sandai. Along the way, we will cross the Equator into the southern hemisphere of Borneo Island. The highlight of the day was the river crossing of the Tayan River which had a steep gradient to embark and disembark from the ferry. All the daily commuters’ vehicles and trucks were struggling and skidding while disembarking and Pak Harry vehicle was used to winch some of the vehicles up. So amused, we were betting among ourselves whether the heavy laden trucks can make their way up and most of the time we were wrong!
We reached Sandai at 7 PM and I went for a drive along the river side with Chai and the settings of the villages along the river were so rustic just like it was untouched since the early 50s. The locals were friendly too. The next destination was Pangkalan Bun, a town in Central Kalimantan. The convoy started the journey through an off road section from Sandai and after crossing the West Kalimantan Border, we were treated a generous lunch by Convoy Leader Hj Ibrahim of giant fresh water prawns! After a heavy meal the convoys powers on to reach a comfortable Swiss Bell hotel at Pangkalan Bun at 7 PM. I was too tired to go out so I ordered room service for the night and to download my images. I am very much looking forward to the next day!
IN TOUCH WITH NATURE
Making sure that all my batteries are charged, lens checked and my rain gears intact, part of Trans Borneo participants will spend a full day at Camp Leakey, Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan where 6,000 wild orangutans live making it the largest population on earth! Thanks to the great conservation effort of a single remarkable woman, Dr Birute Galdikas, the park now boast fantastic wildlife sightings.
Having worked with orangutans in the wild and captivity around Sabah, I was very excited to see what this park has to offer. For a start the mode of transportation is very different, using a wooden boat house, the journey to the park is 4 hours one way so to make a day trip it will be a full day. Most visitors will take the 3 days 2 night package to really enjoy the nature but due to TB2014 busy schedule, I was happy just to be able to visit Tanjung Putting. While departing from the jetty, we can see back from the shore to the town of Pangkalan Bun. A very different shapes of building appears, bird nest culture is a booming industry here and they overtaken the buildings around town.
Although the boat ride is a bit long, once entering the park, the journey was well worth it with familiar peat swamp forest. Before long, we could site proboscis monkeys, macaque monkeys, borneon gibbons, broad bill king fishers and lots of orangutans. Once at the feeding platform, we were greeted by more orangutans along the way which criss-cross our path from time to time. Amazing!
To be continued…