I am still wiping the remains of dead mosquitos from my screen as I write this entry, having left Borneo. Today was a day of sad goodbyes, frustrating waits, negotiating with travel agents and finding myself in Semarang – a city I’d never heard of, yet a place which is home to around 1.5 million people. This is real Asia, chaotic cities that seem so far removed from the Western conscience. There are abundant signs of Western influence, yet assimilated into the Asian mind and not really connected in any way to their Western origin.
Having fallen asleep to the sight of whirling, glow in the dark fireflies in the top of our mosquito net in the middle of Borneo, I woke up as the boat engine roared to life at 6am. A quick shower in the bathroom without roof, taking my shower by pouring water with a small bucket over me, made me smile – it felt real and natural, and really quite lovely.
As we came into Kumai harbour, which is really a horrible industrial place, the Kalimantan sunrise made the world a really beautiful place. Before the clock struck 7 we were taking a million photographs and arranging our transportation. Isy drove us to the orangutan care centre, a clinic where they look after abondoned orangutan babies, and myself and Chloe spent about 30 minutes trying to persuade various people to let us visit. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for the babies, we needed permission from the doctor, a 500 dollar donation and a health check before we could enter. We were mildly cheered up by visiting a 'long house' on our way to the airport which are traditional Indonesian houses where religious ceremonies were carried out.
Still slightly downbeat about the care centre, we weren’t comforted by Trigana Air delaying their flights which meant the hours between 09-1.30 were spent in Pangkalan Bun airport. It’s a very small, very local airport. Let’s just say the highlight was a powder cappuccino.
Leaving Chloe behind for her Surabaya flight, me and Jean-Paul and Vivienne flew to Semarang and proceeded to a travel agent recommended by Isy. Two hours later I had a flight to Denpasar, hotel near the airport and two new friends (Indra and Hari) who had helped greatly in the face of adversity despite barely speaking any English. I was the first Westerner Hari had ever served.
Great French lessons the whole day, and invitation to come visit south of France. Now Jean-Paul and Vivienne have left for Solo. So there we go, another airport hotel (called Puri Garden), another massive room to myself, another early start and another large beer while I get acquainted with the Internet again. Tomorrow the third leg of my journey awaits - in Bali!