Today we are leaving Sulawesi and headed to “Borneo” better known as Kalimantan in Indonesia. The ferry dock is 19 km north of Palu and the ride takes about 30 minutes.

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We arrived to the ASDP dock at 2 pm. You have to stop at the port authority booth and pay 40,000R per person for the port fee. Then you pull forward to the ferry office to buy your ticket. The tickets were 1/2 what we expected at 400,000 R per bike. This is for a 24 hour ferry ride and meals we found out on board (rice and a boiled egg or rice and a chicken finger or rice and sauteed cabbage)!

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Parking here we drew quite a crowd and everyone wanted a photo! Lots of people had questions and luckily there was also another rider from Palu who spoke English well and we chatted about Indonesia and  our trip with the crowd thru him.

There was a very tragic ferry sinking in Sumatra this week on a passenger ferry with at least 200 people and dozens of motorcycles on a boat that is supposed to have 50 passengers only. This is probably why they are being some careful to see your ID and your vehicle registration today.

We made friends with one of the terminal agents who also spoke English well. He suggested we eat at the sketchy looking kiosk inside the station and actually the food was pretty good. So we got some packets of rice and noodle to go for dinner. (we did not yet know that the ticket included “meals”. He also says the ferry will leave at about 7 ish.

About 3 Dan went on board to see if he could get one of the crew to rent us their cabin….no luck, but they did let us have first dibs on the nonsmoking bunk room.

They also let us board the ship at 4 while they were still unloading all the banana trucks. This meant we could tuck in beside the front loader at the rear. We could tie down to it and to the holds on the deck.



The bananas are being unloaded  from the trucks  and stacked on both sides of the deck (filling the 2 emergency exits at the rear). There was also stacks of boxes of mangos and cabbages. Then they loaded on 4 big trucks and lashed  them to the ceiling.









There were also about 6 cars and 2 smaller trucks one filled with goat and one with cows.



The last to load were about 20 scooters.


Inside the nonsmoking bunk room we got the 2 upper bunks in front of the tiny air con unit on the side the farthest from the bathroom. This saved us literally. This is a 1000 sq foot room with 44 bunks most with more than 1 person. This seemed ok when we boarded at 4 and not so much by 6 when we left. There were about 30 screaming kids, several people with blue tooth speakers (that boom boomed all night long, and several kids with gaming systems (bling bling). Ear plugs and Gravol saved me.






We managed to get some sleep after 10 when most of the crying kids were asleep. We did  get some rest on and off until just after 6 am when the sun was up. Now we still have 12 hours to go. It is incredible how people can behave so badly. Let me tell you it was a challenge. It is amazing when there is such wide spread lack respect for others and the environment. They drop their garbage on the floor or throw it into the sea, play their own music at high volume day or night, and leave garbage in the bathroom drain so that the  water is flooding. People are “showering” with the water from the squat toilet cistern  for 10 minutes in the only toilet for 60 in our section. At breakfast we were surprised to find out that our tickets also included meals such as they are.


This is our last long Indonesian ferry and we are so happy. We finally could see Borneo about 1500, but we are moving so slowly and the dock is way around the bay that we did not dock until after 6.




We had reserved at a hotel in town about 11 km away. The cars are pretty ok, but the scooter drivers here are quite aggressive and a bit suicidal. The traffic is bumper to bumper all the way. Wow do we smell and need a shower! We checked in and did not leave the room.


We set out at 930 for the 11 km back to the ferry dock where we landed at last night.


The ferry across the mouth of the inlet to Panajam also leaves from here. This is just an hour trip.


We pulled up to the ticket booth (40,000R) and were told the next ferry was just loading. Good timing!


We pulled into the line and then were directed to board.


They checked our ticket on the dock and then we loaded on the side of the cars.



We again created a stir and several people wanted photos with us.



We unloaded and were happy to find a much more calm and orderly driving pattern here and there is very little traffic.




We are trying to get 261 km (Google said 6 hr) to Mabuun, but it is already 1130 so we shall have to see.

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The terrain varies from curvy mountain roads to  flatter and more straight roads. There is some traffic, but it is much better than we expected.



We had an about 20  min down pour and got soaked. When it got worse we took shelter with some other riders in a roadside shelter.




When we set out again it was still sprinkling , but soon it was sunny again and then  5 min later we had another short heavy rain and hid out at a store.



About half way today we also got GPS maps back since the Malaysia maps tiles  overlap here! When it started to rain again we donned our suits and then it really started to pour!



Then of course 20 min later it was stopped!



The next town with services is 37 km away and so we headed for it! We were cold and tired and wet from our first soaking without the over suits on. We managed to find a nice western style hotel =hot shower comfy bed 4 pillows! It is the small things in life that make us so happy. It has now stopped raining, but we elected to have a burger in the hotel. It was nice to have some food from home that tasted like it was from home! Also Sara thinks one of the sneezing coughing crying rug rats on the ferry gave her their disease as she is not feeling well!


Today we have a big km day for Indonesia, but Goolge says we can make the 324 km in 7 hours to Palangka Raya!!

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Sara is feeling terrible with a head cold coming on. Setting out the sky was dark and cloudy, but they are very high clouds and for the most part today we were dry. Leaving the city the road is curvy and narrow and there is a fair amount of traffic and so slow going. It is also Durian season and most of the villages have stalls selling them and so it smells like stinky feet everywhere.


We gassed up as they had Petromax (92) and were trapped there by a number of people wanting photos! It is getting a bit tiresome as they can be very demanding, want 10 different shots, and we are  dying in the humidity.




The first 150 hr to Buntok took us 3 hours (including the time change for central Kalimantan), but we got lucky with almost no other vehicles, straight good road, and very little rain for the last 172 km as we did that in 2 hours. Good thing as Sara was barely hanging on.

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There are no services on the last stretch of 172 km except the occasional lean to shack selling gas in plastic pop bottles to the scooter riders, pop, and chips. This road is here to serve the mining camps in the region.

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The temperature was much better today with the clouds at 26-27 until after 1300 and for the last hour it was 34.We did stop half way to check the oil and unlike yesterday the 650 still read FULL!!!! YEAH.

We did get an about 3 min of a massive down pour, but this was a good soaking to keep us cool as the  sun was out  right after. Poor Sara was in bad shape when we found the hotel and dragged herself directly to bed.

Today we have planned a short 222 km day (4 hours) since it is that to Sampit and we do not want to do the entire 455 km ( 9 hours) to Pangkalanbuun. No way even on a good day. It was  a good thing as Sara barely made it that far.

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We had cloudy and partly sun day and it was a cooler 28. There is a bit more traffic here with quite a few trucks, but the drivers are courteous and signal for you to pass. We checked the oil at the gas station in town and both were full and also when we checked 2 hours later. PHEW! There is not much traffic as it is a national holiday today. The hotel is just past the town on the main road going on to Pangkalanbuun and so we will have an easy exit tomorrow.


We had to stay here an extra day. As Sara did not leave the room for 36 hours and was quite ill with cough and high fever. The hotel staff was super nice they even sent her up a fruit platter and bottles of water in the afternoon to make sure she ate something. The first night here was very rough and she was unable to get up to leave. We booked in here another night and the hotel we had booked in Pangkalanbunn moved our reservation. We had booked ahead as we wanted a place where we could leave the bikes for 3 days when we go on a houseboat trip to see the Orangutans.

Sara finally today is a little better and we set out for the 235 km (almost 5 hour) trip to Pangkalanbunn.

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We got gas and checked the oil (still good) and hit the road. It seemed like a long day with the traffic and stopping several times to put on /take off rain gear or hide out a downpour. We had to put the rain jackets back on with 50 km to go, but it only rained for about half of it.




Arriving at the hotel Sara hit the bed. The hotel arranged for a travel agent to come to us so we could discuss options for going into the national park to see the Orangutan. The boats leave from nearby Kumai port and usually the trips are 2-3 days. We chose a 2 night 3 day trip on a traditional wooden klotok which is about 15 metres long.  The forecast  is a bit dismal, but this is the rain forest right.

We were picked up at 10 am by car and delivered  to the boat launch in Kumai. The crew of 4 will take care of us including our guide Anwar, Captain Ali, his mate and the cook.



The boat has a western style toilet and an on demand hot water shower. We will sleep on the deck on a queen sized bed that they set up with a mosquito net at night.



When  the rain threatens the guys scramble to lower the rain covers until the brief downpour has passed. Day 1 I think they went up and down a dozen times.



It was lovely motoring up river with the jungle views. We came across tropes of proboscis monkeys and even a wild orangutan.






Our first stop was at Tanjung Harapan just before 3. Here you walk a short distance thru the jungle on a dirt path to the feeding area. They supplement the food of the orangutan in the park for the previously captive, born wild, and wild as well.




We will moor on the docks near here tonight and go for a trek in the jungle to see scorpions, tarantulas, and birds nesting.





For day  2 we are up early and headed further up stream to Pondok Tanggui for their 9 am feeding.



Truly wild orangutan!






After lunch it was again up stream further  to Camp Leaky for 2 pm. There were Orangutan here, but also a hard to see Gibon ape and the not so rare wild pig.










The rare pitcher plant



The return trip down stream is much quicker and we stopped at a reforestation site to plant some trees.








We made it back to Kumai by 2 pm and they dropped us to the hotel.


We had agreed to go with Anwar to his old English school tonight to practice conversational English with the students at the Genius academy. What a fun night and the students were very enthusiastic. They even treated us to Sate Ayam.








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2 Responses to Kalimantan

  1. Ruth Lennon says:

    Wow! Are you ready to come home yet? It sounds like Sarah needs some peace and quiet and some homemade chicken soup. Amazing pictures as usual and when you are our age you will be able to sit and reminisce about the amazing journey you 2 have been on. I guess you are missing the gathering at Nakusp this summer. It is so smoky here with terrible fires burning in B.C. Kimberly is under evacuation notice as the fires are getting closer and the smoke making it difficult for people to breath. The sun looks like a bright red ball of fire in the sky. We are looking forward to a visit when you get back. We are also in transition and downsizing to a condo in the city. Auntie ruth is wearing out! Stay safe xoxo

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