Borneo Due West

Notes on sea-sickness (1/2)

Having embarked on a few sailing trips, I have had the good fortune of observing first-hand one of the most peculiar conditions of being at sea. While some people seem unaffected by it, others are completely perturbed by the rolling movement of the waves, feeling in the pit of their stomach every rise and fall….

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Inevitable Coincidences?

This story starts in Pulau Pejantan. Maybe. It’s hard to tell. Maybe you’ll understand why in a bit. But while on the trip, there were moments when I think this story starts at Pulau Panau. Then again, it was only at Pulau Mentebung when I felt like I had a coincidental encounters. Okay so let’s…

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A Second Beach: Pulau Pejantan’s Spirit World

One of the few things that excited me about visiting Pulau Pejantan was being able to potentially come across animals endemic to the island. Being a highly isolated island geographically, it is reasonable to think of it like a Galapagos Island of the South China Sea. So when the little things Pak Jan told us…

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Making Connections

Although the islands we visited were distant from major coastal cities, what looks like an idyllic and isolated kampong… … is perhaps not so disconnected after all. And it’s not just satellite dishes that link them to the mainland, but boats and trading resources – fish, squid, sea cucumbers, coconuts, turtle eggs… …and people. Despite…

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Dolphins?? Dolphins?! DOLPHINS!!

Nestled in the safe concrete embrace of the Singaporean concrete jungle, city folks like us seldom get to see wondrous beasts roaming about the streets, other than the usual scurrying stray cats and rats. Even the sightings of “magnificent” animals (by Singapore’s standards) like the boars and otters, can cause much excitement and uproar among…

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Between Here and Borneo

After I have come back from the seafaring trip to Indonesia, the calming yet stunning scenery of the Indonesian archipelagos still had a long lasting impression in my mind. Shortly after the trip, I attended a curatorial briefing at the National Gallery related to its special exhibition Lim Cheng Hoe: Painting Singapore. While reading some…

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Marriage proposal

Pulau Mentebung was memorable to me for a few reasons. The villagers were very hospitable and offered us milo and coffee (with lots of sugar). The kids brought us around the village for a tour and climbed up a tree to pluck some berries for us. Those berries tasted so refreshing and sweet! While strolling…

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A Grave in Tokong Kemudi?

It is an island shrouded in mystery. Many of us tried to piece together narrative around Tokong Kemudi. From what little we know about the island located nearly 12 hours away from the Tambelan Archipelago. There were huts, freshly chopped trees, fresh chicken eggs, 1.5l bottle containing fresh water, coconut trees with carvings, 3 free-range…

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Dayak Spirits, Watch Over Us ūüôŹ

In Pontianak we were graciously accepted by Pak Tono at the Rumah Betang, one of the Dayak Cultural Centers in Pontianak. There we learnt how our visit to the Rumah Bentang was something that was bound to happen. Since all races originated from the Dayak super-race, it was only inevitable for us Dayaks whose ancestors…

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Modesty Curtains

If you ever find yourself at Batam’s Hang Nadim Airport and for some reason you are having a hard time looking for eateries — look harder — they are all around you, just that they are hiding themselves behind curtains. No, they are not closed nor are they planning to hold a Wayang Kulit performance…

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Finding ME-time in Pontianak

Having spent the whole day with people I know I will be spending the next two weeks with non-stop, I needed to maximise all the time I had left to go all out on having some ME-time. Good old time alone to sit and space out. And so what did I do? I went looking…

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Meeting Four Friends in Pontianak

After two-day whirl around the really hot city of Pontianak, we finally board Four Friends, our floating home for the next 10 days as we cross the South China Sea towards towards Riau Islands. Sitting still and anchored in the silty and muddy Kapuas River under the midday sun is our schooner and trailing downcurrent…

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Same Sun; Different View

Living in Singapore has often make me take a lot of things for granted. Embarking on this voyage made me realised how many things and how often i have taken things for granted back home. Even day-to-day things such as scenery and the weather are usually overlooked amidst the hectic lifestyle that we lead each…

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Scaling New Heights, Coloring New Adventures

Pulau Pejantan: first of the many islands that we visited in the Indonesian Archipelago. Nestled in the safe bay of the island’s southern beach, we found ourselves in a sheltered harbor filled with corals and fishes (and spiny seas urchins) aplenty. The coast of Pulau Pejantan boasts interesting rock forms that were ideal for photo…

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(Almost) A Cavern Disaster

Visiting a new island is always an exhilarating experience. One could never anticipate what to find or expect on the island; neither could they anticipate what could find them. Being thrown into the unknown is an adventure all together, and when something unexpected is encountered, the thrill of adventure propagates with the rush of adrenaline….

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Shell-tered Finds @ Pulau Pejantan

The voyage across the archipelago of islands in Indonesia, brought many “firsts” experience to a city kid like me. On the island Pulau Pejantan, I got to witness how a family from a nearby island, came to harvest the eggs of sea turtles for both consumption and sales. To many, such an act may deemed…

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“It’s nice, isn’t it?” — Another Day Ends in Mentebung

Some things are very hard to get bored of. And sunsets are among one of these things. Not everyone gets to enjoy a sunset everyday. This is especially so for most of us city-dwelling folks who are often hidden from the setting sun. To watch a sunset, requires one to find place to view them….

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Sound Experiments

An ode to the sea, the great white noise, the¬†belle noiseuse.  

“Tali putih yang mana???”

Twelve days at sea, and not a single storm! Apart from the dark clouds and the trickle of rain on our way to Tanjung Pinang, we had perfect weather throughout the journey. We were the envy of all. There were occasions, however, when a great disturbance did arise, from which a whole drama would ensue….

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Moments Missed

I miss waking up around 10am local time — often way later than others — to have breakfast. I miss feeling the soft breeze playing with my hair early in the morning while our boat remained anchored in the leeside of the island. I miss looking at Capt. Blake’s navionics to see where we have…

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A Tree Falls in Benua…

The location was Pulau Benua. This was a relatively large and seemingly uninhabited island in the Tambelan group of islands. We had time to spare so exploring this island was an imperative. This was also probably the island where we really split up and went our own ways in small groups. Some of us tried…

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Small Talks Always Grow

In most places that we visited throughout the trip, everyone we met were more than happy to talk to us. And it always starts with some small talk. Small talk always grow into something. Sometimes into longer chat sessions. Sometimes into bigger conversations. Sometimes into an invitation home. Sometimes into a guided tour around the…

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The Visitor

We had all just woken up, and Pak Dadang had already brought out the thermos and mugs to the deck. In the course of our journey, this routine, after several repetitions, had become the ritual that (un)officially marked the beginning of a day. After surviving twenty wild hours of tossing, down the great Kapuas river…

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Islands, from air and from sea

On the flight from Batam to Pontianak, as the plane was ascending, I took this picture of islands that lie just south and south-east of Bintan. Two weeks later, here — in the island cluster in the upper-right quarter of the aerial view —¬† is where we would leave the¬†Four Friends, and found a ride…

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Sunset Volcanoes

After a whole day of swimming and exploring the rocky coral beaches of Pulau Penjang and Pulau Lintang, this was how the sky looked from our boat. The air was still, in contrast to the churning waves cause by a rising tide being pushed in between the two islands. Much more calmer on Four Friends…

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Pejantan Truck Drivers

The name Pejantan seems to come from Malay¬†jantan, “male” — but unlike (le)laki, which refers only to a human male,¬†jantan signifies also, and perhaps primarily, animal maleness, just as betina is the animal female.¬†Jantan¬†is a¬†staggy, cocky, tomcatty maleness.¬† I read somewhere that Pejantan was so named because it is extremely remote, and only “real jantans”…

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forearm for scale

Following the cement strip that began from where sand met straggly undergrowth and the first coconut trees, we were led deeper into Pulau Mentebung. Uphill, downhill, we went. At some stretches, the ground dropped steeply, revealing churned ochre earth beneath a thick layer of concrete, while others were flanked with tall grass that almost reached…

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Meeting Tiny Flippers (Videos)

Probably the star of the Pulau Pejantan are the little baby turtles in Pak T’s hatchery — which he runs with his wife. We’ll probably be posting more on the turtles and conservation, but for how here are some videos of our little friends. Pak Tepoi said he keeps them up till they are 8-months…

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A sense of adventure

When I was a little boy, in Prague, we lived in a flat on the third floor. When my mother did laundry and the weather was okay, my brother and I had to take it down to a small garden, get large wooden poles to prop up the laundry lines (the ends were attached to…

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Pejantan Traffic Jam

After some twenty-four hours of sailing across South China Sea from Pontianak to the isolated Pulau Pejantan, we found a bay sheltering us from the waves and the strong monsoon breeze. I saw the relief in the faces of my comrades who had been suffering from seasickness on this first leg of our voyage. For…

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