North and East Kalimantan: A cyclists overview

There is no disguise even in local attire, (Maybe its the Notre Dame jersey). I am close to twice the size of the locals!

There is no disguise for me even in local attire, (Maybe its the Notre Dame jersey). I am close to twice the size of the average Indonesian!

Tonight I depart on the midnight ferry for the island of Sulawesi, about 200 miles east of Borneo. The road from Tanjung Selor (Capital city of North Kalimantan) to Balikpapan (Capital city of East Kalimantan) was probably one of the hardest routes I have cycled. Hills on par with “Los Gatos De Luz” (a super steep almost never ending hill in my home town of Murrieta) encountered on a daily basis, under a magnifying glass like sun in 90% humidity. The Indonesia people however have made the difficult journey rewarding and  have treated me with such kindness and generosity that I often felt like family! The Arabic word “Musafir” often comes up in conversation which formerly means “guest” but usually refers to Muslim pilgrims who are en-route to Mecca. I was often offered home cooked meals, with a room to sleep in for the night. Lunch was often packed for me the next day and on several occasions I was offered money. I posed for average of 5 photographs on a daily basis and was constantly greeting by passing trucks and motorbikes.

I do hope the roads of Sulawesi offer some respite from the physical hardships of the last two weeks. But as always I am patient and open to experience what lies ahead. It may be a while until I can post again, but will do as soon as possible. My route in northern Sulawesi will begin in the city of Palu and head south to Makassar. From Makassar I will then head to Java by ferry, exploring Borobudur, Surabaya and Bali before flying to Darwin Australia . I will mostly travel on the newly completed trans-Sulawesi highway so the road conditions should be a lot better than Kalimantan! .

Indonesian Durian Instant coffee (4 in 1)

Indonesian Durian Instant coffee (4 in 1)

 

My hosts in the village of Kelay

My hosts in the village of Kelay

The largest Islamic center in Asia, Samarinda City

The largest Islamic center in Asia, Samarinda City

Gaby loaded on another speed boat destined for the jungle

Gaby loaded on another speed boat destined for the jungle

Local Bob Marley Van. People love Reggae here!

Bob Marley Loire. The headlights even had Marijuana leafs painted on them!

Indonesian dragon fruit

Indonesian dragon fruit

Es Campur, Indonesian roadside desert. Ice, tapioca, coconut milk, fruit and bread

Es Campur, Indonesian roadside desert. Ice, tapioca, coconut milk, fruit and wonder bread

Ever seen a dragon fruit plant?

Ever seen a dragon fruit plant? These were growing all over the roadside, and I never would have guessed had I not seen the fruit. The plant is actually a type of succulent.

Line of cars waiting at a remote jungle gas station

Line of cars waiting at a remote jungle gas station. Some people had been waiting in line for close to 4 hours to fill up!

DCIM102GOPRO

My Indonesian hosts in the city of Samarinda. I asked the gentlemen on the right for directions at a busy intersection he then invited me to his home and invited me to lunch with his family. He gave me a sarong when I left.

 

"Gado Gado" lady. She walks around the city of Balikpapan with this tray on her head making fresh peanut sauce, with rice cake and vegetables

“Gado Gado” lady. She walks the streets of Balikpapan with a large wooden tray on her head making fresh peanut sauce, with rice cake and vegetables to the owners of small businesses.

Equator

Local ladies on the speed boat to Tanjung Selor

Local ladies on the speed boat to Tanjung Selor

A puddle roads of Kalimantan

A puddle roads of Kalimantan

I am 30 km from the Equator, and completely thrashed from the last 7 days in the jungle. The roads wind and seem to climb forever and the sun has become unbearably strong. My skin burns and each night I feel the heat absorbed through my clothes. There is no shelter here. In the shade I am bitten by potential Malaria carrying mosquito’s, biting flies and large fire ants making the sun the only place I can hide. All day I watch motorbikes pass and climb the steep hills with ease, the drivers and passengers wearing clean, sweat free clothes that still smell like detergent, they smile and honk as they pass. I pedal on drenched in sweat that is of little help in such a humid place.

Banana buffet, these bananas are too small to sell are are left to the flies, ants and hungry passing cyclists.

Banana buffet, these bananas are too small to sell are are left to the flies, ants and hungry passing cyclists.

I am two days away from Balikpapan, (the capital city of East Kalimantan). If I keep up the pace I should arrive in time to catch the monthly ferry across the Makassar straight to the city of Toli-Toli Palu, in Sulawesi. Once there I can rest and pedal at a normal rate, not having to worry about connecting with transportation.  Although physically this route has been extremely difficult I have had a very reflective and memorable journey through North and East Kalimantan. Sometimes the climbing seems endless, and I think of the cool deep waters of the Philippines to keep me going. There is more to tell and will post again when I reach the city.

A bouquet of Rambutan, a sweet lychee like fruit

A bouquet of Rambutan, a sweet lychee like fruit. This bunch was handed to me by a local as I passed through his village.

Trip to Derawan Island, A remote tropical paradise  TBC

A surprise trip to Derawan Island….