Tuesday, 29 June 2010
From Borneo Leana and I took the ferry East across the straits of Makassar to Sulawesi Island. Due to my illness and touristy side-shows we haven’t done much cycling since then. But first, let me continue where I left off last time. From Balikpapan in Borneo we continued North up the coast to the capital of East Kalimantan, Samarinda. Leana was keen on a boat trip to the interior, and in Samarinda we hired a guide and then took a bus up-river to KotaBangun where our water-trip began. The 3 days on a small long-tailed boat across a series of lakes and up remote jungle tributaries was rather interesting and enjoyable. Most of the villages and towns along our route are accessible by water only. We didn’t spot any Orang-Utang, but we did see quite a few of the indigenous long-nosed Proboscis Monkeys, as well as a variety of bird life (also Maribu Stork and large colourful Kingfisher). Overnight accommodation was in one of the village guesthouses, designed along the lines of one of the traditional long-houses of the region. Unfortunately I subsequently picked up a debilitating illness (perhaps Dengue Fever from the ferocious lake-land mozzies) – no sooner had we returned to Samarinda than I was confined to bed with fever and body pains. A couple of days later I dragged myself down to the ferry dock bound for Sulawesi – hoping for no more than just a place to lie down during the voyage. But it was not to be! As it turned out, our ferry was designed to carry less than 1000 passengers, but according to reports there were more than 4000 people aboard. As a result the floors were so packed with bodies that it was impossible to stand or walk indoors, so I eventually found a space on the open side-deck to roll out my sleeping mat (we sailed through a storm for most of the night, and we rode it out by wrapping ourselves in our ground sheets). To say the least, I was rather relieved to disembark at the port of Pare-Pare in Sulawesi 17 hours later. After a further 24 hours in a comfortable Pare-Pare hotel room it was time to move on towards the Tana Toraja region in the mountainous interior of the Island. Toraja is a popular tourist destination as the colourful locals have a distinctive “horned-roof” building style, there are various elaborate ceremonies (including funerals and harvest festivals), and the region is also very scenic. Now we’ve been in Rantapao – the largest town in Toraja – for 2 days already as I’m still trying to recover from my illness. We’ll probably move on tomorrow and make our way towards the city of Makassar, from where we should return to Java Island. Daily distances cycled since my last report from Balikpapan have been:- Loa Janan 126 km; Samarinda 13 km; Pare-Pare (to & from ferry) 3 km; Enrekang 86 km; Makale 80 km; and Rantapao 24 km. Distance cycled thus far in 2010 is about 6 100 km, and total distance cycled since Cape Town is 58 887 km.