En-route to Santiago de Compestela – Asia

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.

image

Mich got me on the way at 2pm after a farewell photo in our colourful autumn garden.
image

Won’t be seeing Liam and Mich for over 3 months – shall miss them dearly!
image

Goodbye Peter – we’ll meet up in Indonesia again in a week after my Soroptimist conference in Kuching, Sarawak, in Malaysian Borneo.
image
image

Kuching in Borneo, Malaysia means ‘cat’ and there are many cat sculptures such as these displayed around the city of Kuching.

image

image

image

Kuching, Sarawak has many well maintained former British colonial buildings such as these – unlike the state of Sabah where such buildings were destroyed by the Japanese during WW2.
image

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.

image

The history of the Sarawak museum building.
image

Margo and I enjoyed a 7 hour tour of the city with our private guide, Tommy, which included a visit to this museum.
image

This was the last elephant that hauled sleepers for the Borneo Railways in colonial times.

image

Intricate traditional tattoo designs used by native people from Borneo.
image

image

Living quarters inside traditional long houses.

image

image

Headhunters came from this region – just a few generations ago!
image

Sarawak parliament building – architecturally stunning.

image

image

image

image

image

image

We visited the Kuching Orchid House and enjoyed seeing so many beautiful specimens.
image

Shades of a bearded iris with this orchid.
image

Tommy took us to the orangutan rehabilitation reserve at Semenggoh in his taxi for a very close experience with our human cousins.
image

image

image

image
image

image

Mother was 43 years old and her baby was nearly 6 years of age.
image

image

Local Sarawak cuisine – jungle chicken, local fern greens and spiced freshwater fish. Yumm!
image

image

At the pre-conference evening out at the Sarawak Cultural Village there was a choreographed spectacular music and dance show telling the legends of Borneo Gods and the never ending cycle of life.
image

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?
image

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.
image

image

Local Sarawakians dressed in national costume greeted all attending the 1st day of the conference.
image

The Call of the Wild evening required all to wear a sarong – prizes were given for it’s most original use; this was won by a Cambodian Soroptimist.
image

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!!!

image

The evening ended with a chorus of song led by the Malaysian clubs saying thanks to Soroptimism for all that it has done for them as well as whst it’s done for women and girls.
image

More conference proceedings in the Great Hall at the Borneo Convention Centre with panels discussing topics like reducing violence against women.

image

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.

image

Denise and Christine are mother/ daughter Soroptimists- in Canberra and Jakarta clubs respectively.

image

image

The evening included another garment designers exhibition fashion show.
image

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.

image

Details of the old Kuching Chinese shophouses.
image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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!

The next stage is a flight from Kuching to Denpassar Bali via Kualar Lumpur with Air Asia.
Low cost carriers leave a bit to be desired but do get you there – eventually!
image

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?
image
image

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!
image

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.
image

And a BBQ Chinese pork hock. There’s something for everyone’s taste and belief’s here in Bali!
image

Alana and Brad at Biku- guests here in Bali especially for Ellie-May’s 1st birthday party tomorrow.

image

Flying over just one of many volcanic mountains en route from Bali to Java.
image

image

Reunited at last with the family here in Bogor, Indonesia after a 12 month absence during which we’ve all missed each other heaps.
image

Shopping for dinner at Bogor’s traditional food market offered so many delights.
image

Fresh poultry for dinner tonight? One moment and this rooster will be killed, trussed and ready to be taken home and cooked.
image

There are all manner of dried and fresh fish on offer at these markets found in almost every town in Indonesia.

image

Mothers Day was celebrated with Ra and the family at a Bogor cafe called Coffeetime.

image

image

Coffeetime operates from this ceramic business site. Handmade ceramic tiles were strategically placed in the concrete steps leading up to the cafe giving it a very creative entrance.
image

image

The boys were especially interested in these two tortoises kept by the management.

image

image

Bogor Botanical Gardens are a cool, clean and uncrowded retreat from the hot, dusty and busy life here in Bogor.
image

Bogor Presidential Palace sits within these beautiful gardens.
image

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.
image

The gardens house this old cemetery where 49 early Dutch colonists and their family members are buried, including 1 two month old infant’s grave seen here.
image

image

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.

image

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!
image

image

On the 15 May, the national Buddhist holiday for all Indonesians, we celebrated by holidaying at a resort in the cool mountain air in the national park behind Bogor.
image
image

The villas including the roofing material were constructed entirely from the bamboo plant. The lacquered interior gave these simple dwellings a wonderful golden glow.

image

A tyre, 2 boys and a parent mean lots of fun wherever you are in the world!
image

This waterfall was a heavenly retreat where we enjoyed the rare experience of having the area to ourselves. In overcrowded Java this is a most unusual experience.
image

Boys throwing rocks into rockpools is another international past time!
image

Rockhopping is another.

image

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.

image

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.
image

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.

image

image

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.

image

Ra attended and introduced Arif’s classsmates to 3 games played at children’s parties in Australia; pin the tail on the donkey, parachute and pass the parcel – enjoyed by all!
image

image
Lots of fun was had at the family gathering the next day celebrating Arif’s birthday. The parachute and pin the tail on the donkey games appeared again!
image

image

Birthday boy in red and his brother – Batman!
image

Indonesian birthday banquet!
image

The gathering of the clan to celebrate Arif’s 5th birthday in the family’s beautiful front garden in Bogor.
image

Sunday lunch with Maya and Adji was BBQ fish cooked in bamboo.
image

The traditional eating style was required – no cutlery offered and where the right hand only is used.
image

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?
image
image

Again the lunch was served in the traditional style where we ate using our fingers. It’s quite a feat picking up rice this way!
image

Breakfast crumpets were cooked for us on the way to the markets using a rice flour. Delicious freshly made even without the butter or honey usually served in the west.
image

image

image

image

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.
image
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’.
image

Lunching with Eddie sitting on carpets. Felt very middle-eastern!
image

Eddie the English School owner with his teachers. Not a male teacher was to be seen
image

Peter and his pupils.

image

The country around Bogor shows the benefit of heavy daily afternoon rain. Bogor has one of the highest rainfalls in Java.

image

image

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.

image

OH&S has some way to go in the quarrying of basalt from this mountain. This removal of stone from this mountain is a landslide just waiting to happen.
image

image

Intensive agriculture in terraces was seen on the steep mountains.
There is no shortage of farm labour in this country to produce the crops.
image

This is an idyllic retreat within a national park near to Kuningham- not often seen in such an uncrowded state.

image

Ibu Halim setting off for the walk to the waterfall.
image

Young boys with their peace message on their back!
image

The Sumatran tiger is the symbol of the military and police.

image

Indonesia allows many religions to be practiced. The Christian religion is a minority one. The condition of this church reflects the small numbers that support it financially.
image

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.
image

Enjoying a cob of bbq corn overlooking the man made lake.

image

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.
image
Fishing from the lake using reel less rods had some success.
image

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.
image

image

image

Pak Halims’ sister at her gracious home with its beautiful garden and large fish pond. Fish here are rarely kept for their beauty rather these ponds are where fish for the family table are raised.
image

image

Ibu Halim and older sister in the home they were raised in in Kuningham. The garden had this stunning bougainvillea in full bloom.
image

Two of Ibu Halim’s young students dressed in traditional clothing ready for their days work. They looked divine!
image

image

A new wedding reception centre near Cirebon. Weddings are very large here so the reception centre must be big enough to accommodate up to 1000 guests.
image

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.
image

Saying goodbye to Ibu & Pak Halim before leaving Cirebon after a wonderful 3 days spent with them both.
image

We took the Cirebon Express to Gambir station, Jakarta – a 3 hour journey in executive class. Ibu Halim made sure we got onto the right train and then said goodbye to us.
image

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!
image

image

image

We enjoyed a lovely evening with the family and Australian Volunteer friends Louise, Jim and Anthony at Grant & Ra’s home in Bogor eating sate and drinking beers and whiskey.
image

image

image

image
image

Fun and games were enjoyed at a Javanese cultural village celebration. Boys young and old actively participated in the activities.
image

Dillan got a bit of help from Grant & Anthony to master the Javanese art of blowing darts onto a target.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to En-route to Santiago de Compestela – Asia

  1. James says:

    Good luck Sandy & Peter. We look forward to a poignant and exciting account of your journey, hope to hear from you again soon.

  2. Hmmm, good looking Orangutans(sp?)… sure looks like some people i know…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s