Tomorrow is D-Day – leaving Canberra for Kuching Malaysia, Bogor Indonesia and Toulouse France to recommence walking the remaining 1250kms of the Camino de Santiago Peter and I began in 2013.
Kuching in Borneo, Malaysia means ‘cat’ and there are many cat sculptures such as these displayed around the city of Kuching.
An intricately carved stone traditionally used in Borneo by tribal peoples in their burial grounds. This is on display in front of the Sarawak museum and art gallery in Kuching.
This was the last elephant that hauled sleepers for the Borneo Railways in colonial times.
Living quarters inside traditional long houses.
Sarawak parliament building – architecturally stunning.
Sarawak models displaying their colourful and exotic locally designed clothing at the pre-conference Sarawak Cultural Village evening. In July each year a Rain Forest World Music festival is held at this venue so perhaps that’s a reason to return one day?
Flag bearers attending the biennial conference of Soroptimist International clubs in Kuching, Borneo Malaysia came from Mongolia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. Soroptimists aim to improve the lives of women and girls throughout the world by undertaking service and advocacy projects locally, regionally and internationally.
A leading Malaysian clothing designer provided guidance on how to wrap oneself elegantly in a sarong. However it proved to be a long learning curve for most of us especially those with less syllph like shapes!!!
More conference proceedings in the Great Hall at the Borneo Convention Centre with panels discussing topics like reducing violence against women.
The Gala night was a Glitz and Glam evening where the handover from the Federation President to the President-elect occured. Some of our Canberra contingent that traveled to Kuching and attended included Sharna and husband Ron and Denise Lyons.
Denise and Christine are mother/ daughter Soroptimists- in Canberra and Jakarta clubs respectively.
The post conference city tour took us to the old Chinatown past the old ‘shop-houses’. The Chinese wield significant power here as they make up 60% of the local population – there is a Mayor for the Chinese area and another for the Malay.
A grand mosque building sitting on a Chinese burial ground. Muslims are a minority group in the state of Sarawak. Aside from the Chinese who nominally follow Buddhism there are large numbers of people here who identify themselves as Christians as a result of the ‘missions’ that provided health and education services in the last century.
At the Entomology Museum a skeleton of an orangutan was on display. The anatomical structure clearly showed Wallace how humankind had evolved. Wallace spent over 6 years in this region developing his theory of evolution – way before Darwin wrote his Origin of the Species.
One of the last of the old wooden houses of Kuching – a family home that may have housed 30 family members in the past – but now it’s in a state of disrepair but on a very expensive piece of land! Kuching is rapidly modernizing in line with the wider Malaysia and is fast moving to 1st world status. Old ‘heritage’ buildings such as these where the odinary people lived will be casualties of modernization if they are not protected and preserved for posterity.
These old colonial building sit in gracious grounds and the preserved building now houses the Sarawak Art Museum. The same level of preservation is needed for the old wooden houses of Kuching.
Now it’s time to say good bye to Borneo after just a 1 week look at a small part of the state of Sarawak. There’s much more to see but more time’s needed to explore further afield to Labuan Island and Sandakan or to travel overland into Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo. Perhaps another day!
At Denpassar airport the queue at 8pm was very long with people speaking languages from many different countries – testament to the appeal of Balinto the wider world. Some come for just a beach trip, or an inexpensive ‘veg out’ while for others it’s clearly a honeymoon just beginning. This traditional Arabic bride wasted no time communicating on her smart phone while waiting to be processed at immigration. How comfortable could you be sitting in an aeroplane seat for 12 odd hours in a wedding dress with long train and veil?
Caught up with Juliette and baby for a cool drink at our hotel. Juliette filled us in on her busy life here as the Principal of an international school, owner and operator of a guesthouse and mother of a 12 month old little girl – all quite a feat!
Dinner with Juliette, friends and visiting family at Bicu restaurant. Biku is run by an Australian woman ex-pat who has made High Teas the speciality of the restaurant. But after enjoying the lamb Thalia and Chinese pork we had no appetite for deserts.
Alana and Brad at Biku- guests here in Bali especially for Ellie-May’s 1st birthday party tomorrow.
There are all manner of dried and fresh fish on offer at these markets found in almost every town in Indonesia.
Mothers Day was celebrated with Ra and the family at a Bogor cafe called Coffeetime.
The boys were especially interested in these two tortoises kept by the management.
Raffles of Singapore fame also spent time as the British Governor in Java before the Dutch took control of this area. Unfortunately Raffle’s wife died from malaria – his caring tribute to her is seen here.
The remains of a specimen of the largest flower in the world. Its petals and blossum are no longer visible – we were 2 weeks too late to see it in full bloom. All that remains now is this central stamen – the core of the flower.
This sculpture commemorates the history of the palm oil industry in Indonesia since the first seeds were brought here 150 years ago from West Africa. Such a massive price Indonesia and ultimately the rest of the world will pay for destroying these forests for such short term financial gains to so few!
The villas including the roofing material were constructed entirely from the bamboo plant. The lacquered interior gave these simple dwellings a wonderful golden glow.
Rockhopping is another.
We visited another waterfall – this one was more commercial than the first one. Welcome to crowded Java – many people competing for scarce resources and space – even at national park waterfalls.
These very young men are typical of so many here – they smoke. There are few public health programs countering strong tobacco companies messages that it ‘is cool’ to smoke. Billboard advertising displays fit young western men smoking – and aspirational young men copy them.
Public places must provide a place for people to pray, if they so wish, so here at the waterfall is a small mushollah, akin to small chapel that visitors may use. The call to prayer is heard 5 times a day- the devout either go to a masjid, a mushollah or merely kneel and face Mecca and complete their prayer ritual. The majority of Indonesians are Muslims but observations indicate that, like the West, many are ‘ cultural’ rather than devout adherents. However Saudia Arabia’s massive financial support for the country is tied to achieving religous outcomes. There are madrassah’s (boys boarding schools) in rural areas as well as cities. Many girls school uniforms now include the hijab – to wear it is not a choice for those attending the school. Wearing of the hijab used to be reserved for older women and those that had completed the Haj but now it has changed its meaning.
Arif had a 5th birthday celebration at his school in Bogor. He attends a co-educational primary school established by Indonesian Chinese with a mix of both Chinese and Javanese attending. Birthday celebrations at school are big affairs – the birthday child is treated as a king for the day and they get presents but also give all their classmates something too.
Traditional low tables were available at the rural restaurant Ibu Halim took us to en-route to Cirebon. Sadly the flexibility to sit cross legged on the floor has been lost on westerners long ago. Perhaps Yoga might help?
The colourful food market continues to operate 7 days a week despite the inroads that modern but more expensive supermarkets are making to their trade. Indonesia’s rapidly growing middle class is emulating western ways – these markets may become casualties of this process.
Becaps still offer a traditional transport option however they face stiff competition from the rapid growth of motor cycles and cars. Becap drivers must have nerves of steel as they cycle along these busy streets with all manner of vehicles very near to them. Might is right on these roads and the Becap driver is the smaller of the road vehicles – when a car beeps at them it means ‘get out of the way’.
Peter and his pupils.
The country around Bogor shows the benefit of heavy daily afternoon rain. Bogor has one of the highest rainfalls in Java.
On the way to Kuninghan we passed through this town where horse and cart are still regularly used by family groups for daily transport around town. Horse and cart, becap, motor bikes, cars and diesel trucks provide an eclectic mix of old and new transport options.
This is an idyllic retreat within a national park near to Kuningham- not often seen in such an uncrowded state.
The Sumatran tiger is the symbol of the military and police.
President SBY was visiting this area so teenage school children were gathered together to put on a mixed singing and dancing concert for him. Not much different to the way it works in the west – except that the place was totally overrun by military police – elections for the new President are scheduled for less than a month away.
Enjoying a cob of bbq corn overlooking the man made lake.
Corn seller with bbq corn. Life is both simple and hard. There are no government payments if you cannot or do not work here. Despite the uncertainties of the economy, lack of welfare and health care Indonesians were rated higher on the scale of happiness than Australians who by comparison have so much in life.
Fishing from the lake using reel less rods had some success.
A popular national park with outward bound activities offered during the school holidays. Camping used to be allowed here however as there are too many people wanting to enjoy this small natural forest area camping has been banned. VIsitors can only come for the day now.
Cigarette advertising is not banned here and unfortunately most young men smoke -it is seen to be cool. Advertising infers that young western men enjoy the taste of these cigarettes – nothing is mentioned of the fact that the participation rate of cigarette smoking is decreasing in the west.
Motor bike traffic is very heavy all throughout Indonesia but especially so in Jakarta. We took a taxi from Gambir station Jakarta to Bogor to rejoin Grant & Ra and the boys for a few days for the princely sum of $25 AU – a journey that took 1 1/2 hours!
Dillan got a bit of help from Grant & Anthony to master the Javanese art of blowing darts onto a target.