Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tour d'Borneo 6: On to Sambas!

The Merasap Waterfall, the place I was
trying to get to when the roads beat me.
The Indonesian province of Kalimantan Barat reminds me in several ways of the American South, the southern states of the USA. Mind you, I lived in Texas for only a few years as a kid, and I've been in West Borneo for all of 12 days, but there are some similarities that can be pointed out.

First off, the people are very friendly. Hospitable. Willing to help out strangers for no other reason than it's the thing to do. They're good people here. There's always a smile ready to break.

Next, they take their religion seriously. Although I haven't been preached to or anything, if the American south is the Bible Belt, this would be part of Indonesia's Qur'an Belt. More women wear the hijab (the Muslim women's headdress) here than any other part of Indonesia that I've visited. I've witnessed everything shutting down for Friday prayers.
I got a little lost on my way back to the main road.
The locals weren't of that much help.
There's not a pub or bar in the whole province and I haven't seen anything as strong as a shandy in the hands of a local. A couple of the counties I traveled through (Sambas, in particular) were dry by law; alcohol was illegal there. A couple other stops were dry by default; none of the stores or restaurants offered beer because they didn't want to pay the large fees for an alcohol license to sell a product that none of the locals wanted to buy. Of course, Islam isn't the only religion here. There's lots of Christians too. Today, on my last day, here, a Sunday, I got caught in the traffic of a large church letting out.

Finally, like the south of the USA, there are some significant racial and ethnic divisions that go back centuries. In the coastal areas, the Malay people dominate. I've read that they control the government and the political power. They're very Islamic. Also on the coasts, in the cities, there's a very large population of Chinese who've been here for generations. They seem to control a lot of the commerce, but keep their heads down as Indonesia has had a long history of pogroms against their ethic Chinese community. That said, I've seen more Chinese temples here than I've seen in Myanmar, and it borders China. Lastly, there are the Dayak, the indigenous people who mostly inhabit the interior of the huge island. I've driven through lots of very poor, delapidated villages during my brief jaunt to the interior. I knew they were Dayak as I saw far more churches than mosques, and the Dayak are mostly Christian. They're the peasants.

Well, y'all, that be my uh-nall-eh-sis of why KalBar is being like 'ol Dixie. Yeeehaww!

Using mud to wash off the mud.
At the end of the last video, I was stuck in the mud. Some passersby, Dayak most likely, helped me out. I got the bike out of mud, and it had no problems starting. Unfortunately, I didn't get it on camera, but I got back through that particular mud patch with no difficulty, and was able to continue my journey to the Sultanate of Sambas.

On the way, I passed through a town with a really cool name: Supa. Sounds just like 'super'. There, I got the motorbike washed, and like everywhere else I stopped in the Borneo countryside, the locals were very friendly and fascinated by this foreigner in their midst.

In Sambas itself, I got to visit the Sultan's palace just as the sun was setting over the river. Remarkable.

Enjoy the video.


  1. Sounds like you are making the most of your vacation. I

  2. Thank you for the video. I believe you're truly blessed.


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