Friday, April 22, 2016

The Tour d'Borneo - Part One: Motorcycle Search

It's a Friday night, April 22nd. I began this Borneo journey on Tuesday, but I don't feel like it's really even begun. I haven't hit the road yet; I'm writing tonight from my hotel room in Pontianak, my third night here. Tomorrow, having finalized my planning and transportation, I hit the road for real.

I mentioned in the previous post that it was going to take me two days to get here from Myanmar. Due to flight schedules, I couldn't avoid a 13 hour overnight layover at the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, airport. On the day of my flight out of Yangon, I began picturing myself lying on the floor of some lounge at 3 AM, wide awake, bored and uncomfortable. I made the good decision of booking at a hotel nearby the airport and made my flight to Pontianak, West Borneo on time and rested. Funny little boutique hotel there in KL; it was airplane themed. They upgraded me to business class.

When I got to Pontianak, I was grateful for not being so tired because I had an arduous task ahead. See, I made the mistake of not thoroughly investigating the availability of motorcycles for rent in the city of Pontianak. I figured Pontianak is a big city. I had googled 'motorcycle rental Pontianak' and found a dozen places that rented cars, so I figured I'd find something when I got here. My hopes were buoyed further when the hotel representative who was in the free shuttle with me informed me that the hotel could arrange a motorcycle rental.

On the road to the hotel, I saw dozens of motorcycle dealers, selling new and used bikes. I'd wait until the what the hotel could find for me, but I was pretty sure I'd find something I liked. I didn't just want any crappy little city bike; I was going up into the hills and jungles of the interior. I wanted something rugged, powerful and reliable.

Maybe Doraemon could help me find a motorcycle
At the Santika Hotel, which is a wonderful accommodation, after checking in, I inquired about the motorcycle rental. I was told to down to the front door and talk to the security staff; the rental was informal, just some guys the security guards knew. Oh. When I talked to them, they made some phone calls, but turned up nothing. They promised me they'd keep trying.

So, on my first afternoon and evening in Pontianak, I head out on foot to search for a bike to rent from one of the many many Such-and-Such Motor shops I'd seen nearby the hotel. 
This kid doesn't see foreigners very often, if at all, so I think he found me a bit scary.

Well, as you'll see in the video, I got to see a lot of Pontianak that day. I walked for hours, and although I enjoyed exploring a new and interesting city, I wasn't finding what I was looking for. You'll see in the video.

I just gave him a goofy smile and he relaxed.

The next morning, I had a brilliant idea. I think it may have even come to me in a dream. Why was I searching the internet for motorcycle rental here in this off-the-beaten-path city in English? I should be entering my search terms in Indonesian! Of course!

What happened next? Well, that will have to wait for the next blog, as that video isn't finished yet.

As I said, I am on the road tomorrow, so I do at least have a motorcycle.


  1. I praise God you found a motorcycle! :) I enjoyed your entry and video and will look forward to more! Thank you. Blessings, Lynn

  2. Good, you found one now lets get going on this


Discovering Northwest Myanmar 16: Kataung to Mandalay

I call them "Burmese Doughnuts". They've got another name, but essentially, it's fried bread. The three-week adventur...