Pontianak… I promised you pirates! In this case we thankfully didn’t meet our pirates but the act of piracy that befell us went like this….
After a 24 hour, overnight sail, we arrived at Pontiank in a torrential downpour. Pontianak is about 10 mile up river and, once there, we anchored, had some dinner and fell promptly to sleep. We woke the next morning to find our newly acquired (and near new) motor had been stolen. The pirates had pinched our little putt putt and we were not happy! The day didn’t get any better…
We had to organise the payment for the gear we bought in Panebagan so we waved down a passing boat and got a ride to shore. At the ATM our card was not working, so we went to another ATM and then another with the same result. After using our credit card to withdraw the money to pay for the purchase of the dingy and the now missing motor, we went to recharge our phone. Once I had the phone going I rang our bank to find out why the card was not working (it should have been good until October). Long story short… replacement cards somewhere in Australia and we now only had credit card access to our money… that became problem number two later.
Then we went to the police station to report the stolen motor -total waste of time. We mentioned to them that we needed to fly out of Indonesia for a night or two and needed somewhere safe to leave the boat. They took us around to the coast guard and they showed us where we could bring the boat.
After we moved the boat to the coast guards wharf Dwayne went off to organise diesel. He went to the ATM to get some more money from our credit card only to find it was not working. What tha? It had worked that morning! So Dwayne tried several different ATM’s before ringing the bank again. He discovered that they had canceled the credit card because we told them we will not be back until Christmas time and we have been out of the country too long. With out forewarning us!…. seriously this day was turning into a nightmare! Dwayne managed to sweet-talk the bank… probably with threats of dismemberment and the cards were once again working.
We booked a flight to Kuching and 36 hours later we were at the airport waiting for our flight. When I had to use the ablutions I discovered a hilarious sign indicating the correct way to use a toilet. Check out the bottom two. In case you can’t see it clearly, the one on the left says you are not allowed to use the toilet for fishing and the one on the right says you cannot cock your leg!
Kuching was great but I’ll tell you about it in our next blog.
Back to Pontianak… We flew back to Pontianak with a new outboard motor which we had purchased in Kuching and immediately the problems started again. Even though the motor was less than the monetary amount of goods you can bring into the country they (customs) started trying to find someway to get money out of us. It was 8am and too early for this rubbish! We finally left with our motor and the money still in our wallets.
Later that day we had a visit from immigration and the harbourmaster. Neither could speak English, so it was hard to workout what they wanted… basically they told us to go. They asked us why we’d come here (we were asking ourselves the very same question by that time)! We told them we came here to purchase fuel and food and that we wanted to visit their city; didn’t they want tourists? The immigration officer said, “no, you go”. Ok thanks for the hospitality! I think immigration at the airport may have phoned his mate to tell him we had a couple of bottles of duty-free whiskey because after interrogating us for an hour he asked for whiskey. There was no way Dwayne was parting with the whiskey so I gave them each a bottle of bubbly. We finally organised to stay long enough to go shopping the next day before leaving around lunch time. Bonvoyage bozo!
Ponitanak wasn’t all bad, though I wouldn’t hesitate to say don’t bother going there. There was a good market each night right on the water, very close to where we were and I had delicious sate for dinner every night. There were several other market areas which sold all sorts of things.
You can go and stand on the equator at the ‘equator monument’ but I didn’t get the chance because we had to leave.
Even though most of the people looked at us as though we were in the wrong place and many asked why we had come to Pontianak we did meet several people with the usual Indonesian big heart and even bigger smile. The day we were leaving we found a new Indonesian flag (ours was completely ripped to pieces) and popped by to a seamstress to get a minor alteration made. She stopped what she was doing and did our small job for us. It took her about five minutes and when we asked how much she said no charge. We made her accept a payment and thanked her profusely – for her kindness more than anything else, as we really hadn’t been on the receiving end of that for so long! Then Dwayne went to get more fuel. When he arrived back to the boat he said that a guy had lent him his motorbike and when Dwayne went to pay him he didn’t want any money. Dwayne made him take some money and asked if we could use the bike to get some shopping. We did three trips of shopping, getting some beer and fresh fruit and veg and he still didn’t expect payment. Just when we were starting to think the worst about Pontianak some generous, kind hearted people gave us back our faith in Pontianakians!
Once the shopping was done, and the boat ship-shape, we set sail back down the river. We dropped anchor near the entrance to the river and almost immediately had a visit from the navy! Oh no what do they want! It turned out they just wanted to say hello and get some photos.
The next morning we pulled up the anchor and gratefully left Pontianak behind! Off to clear water and small villages again as we cross the South China Sea.
Next up – Our trip to Kuching Malaysia.
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