This is the kind of quiet country road of South Kalimantan that greeted me. Loved it.
Current location : Gattières, France
From 07/Mar/09 to 10/Mar/09 : ride from Samarinda to Banjarmasin
days passed since we (Kuda & I) entered Indonesia’s East Kalimantan on a fishing boat. We encountered more successive “adventures” (or in simple word, meaning difficulties) these past few days than … perhaps, more than I expected – or wished for. Looking back, it does appear monster of a job to lug along a heavy overland bike across this little known region’s hostile sea border and wild jungle roads. Truck driver Iwan & his merry companion crew joked that after Sangatta, by Indonesian standard, there’re beautiful sealed roads, minus some with big potholes, south till end of Borneo !
As we came out of the jungle, our truck picked up an exhausted “foreigner” – an Italian backpacker named Iuris. He explained “I board a private taxi. Last 3 days it was stuck in jungle. We keep getting out to push or pull taxi out of mud. I fell a few times into mud …. little food, no sleep. Taxi drive 24 hours, no stop, now engine broken, so I had to hitch hike”. I could see his eyes were almost falling out due to exhaustion. A great Borneo experience, some may say. I agree. Over the next 2 days, both of us caught up with sleep and shower in a hotel in Samarinda, East Kalimantan’s provincial capital. Unfortunately once again, sight seeing was not on my agenda – was quite happy just to report back home after 3 days of no phone signals that I’ve got out of the jungle.
My initial plan was to ride further south till the oil, gas & coal seaport of Balikpapan, board a ferry across to the island of Sulawesi, then find another to Bali. But in the last 8 days I noticed I’ve spent more time on the fishing boat and Iwan’s truck, instead of riding on my own horse ! Plans are made to be changed, so I decided it was time to get a feel of Borneo on a bike – and ride the 2 days ride south to Banjarmasin, the provincial capital of South Kalimantan, then ferry to Java. Sulawesi can wait.
I later realised this ride all the way south to Banjarmasin was another true great ride in an unknown region. As enjoyable as when I was out alone on the rugged mountainous Karakoram highway in Pakistan. Outside the towns of South Kalimantan, the countryside roads were extremely quiet. It had the scenery of a semi rural, semi jungle type of surrounding. Villagers were surprised to see a foreign biker. And the folks here were friendly, taking time out to chat. Here, I remember that it was quiet. That it had a nice calm.
No regrets coming down this way as I saw for a first time a RED shelled Durian fruit ! On sale by the side of a country road. It’s a personal surprise as my hometown of Segamat in Malaysia is well known for its durians (you either like it or you hate it), but I never knew a red durian existed. I carried this happy feeling with me into its congested capital Banjarmasin, from where I hope to find at least one RoRo ferry going to Java. One fishing boat experience and subsequent tangle with “garang” (fierce) local customs officials in Indonesia is good enough for me.