Recently read this topic on Thorn tree and thought it was worth recording here for future travellers.
Posted: 25 Apr 2006
crossing the equator
I am planning a trip following the equator from one end of Indonesia to the other - starting in Sumatra, Kalimantan and all the way across. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas of interesting/wacky/must-see things to do along the way (sticking as close to the equator as possible) I'd love to hear from you!
Posted: 25 Apr 2006
Khalastiwa (The Equator)
In some ways ypur trip leaves out many of the areas of interest. Lake Toba, Bukit Lawang. etc.
But if you are strict about your journey here's how I would do it. Fly Singapore <> Padang on Tiger Airways. Go to Bukittinggi and enjoy Lake Maninajau, go on Minangkabau Tour, and take a day trip to the Equator Monument in Bonjol. On the way is the Rafflesia Conservation area. If you wanted to see the equator on the coast one would have to take a minibus NORTH from Tiku on the coast near Lake Maninjau...it would be on the road somewhere between Sasak and Sikilang...supposedly some good surfing areas up that way.
Go to Harau Valley. Then take day trip to Kotoalam Equator Monument/Viewpoint...just east of Payakumbuh. Don't bother going all the way to Pekanbaru...although maybe a visit to the Maura Takus temples might be interesting. Maybe hire an ojek (motorcycle driver) to do this on a day trip. If you were determined to try to keep to the equator and willing to suffer the use of loacl buses and transport you could then make your way to Rengat and take a boat down the Indragiri to get to the Riau islands. That could be done but would be hard. I know of no tourists who have ever done it. The mouth of the Indragiri (Cape Datuk) is right on the equator.
Riau Islands- If you get to Singapore to renew your 30-day visa or are somehow doing well on time...you could then head down to the Riau Islands and actually see some interesting things around the equator there. There are three Riau Islands that are crossed by the equator and two that are pretty accessible. Pulau Bakung is the inaccessible one...and one may want to avoid anyone offerring to take you to it. It's a notorious smuggling center. Pulau Sebangka and P. Lingga can be reached on ferries that run from Tanjung Pinang on Bintan Island in just a few hours. The harbor town of Senayang (P. Sebangka) is practically smack dab on the equator. Pancur (on P. Lingga) is just a bit south of it but one could take a motorbike taxi up to Sarah which is. Pulau Lingga is an interesting island besides being crossed by the Khalastiwa. It has the highest mountain in the Riau, the phallic-like Gunung Lingga ("linggum" = phallus in Sanskrit, hence "penis island" and "penis mountain"
. Tales have it that no one has ever successfully scaled it, surrounded by protected rainforest and waterfalls tumble down the volcanic peak. The main towns on Lingga are Buton and Daik. The latter has a old Sultan's palace, razed by the Dutch who accused the sultan of piracy. Many locals are descended from the royal family and will freely invite you in to look at antiques they have either inherited or discovered. Near Buton, at the entrance to the Daik River is Benteng (Fort) Bukit Cening. Ferries run daily between Buton and Jago on P. Singkep...taking about an hour. There are supposedly some nice bungalows and a colonial-era guesthouse to stay in the picturesque port town of Penuba on P. Selayar just opposite Jago. There are lots of forests, mangrove, and isolated beaches on all these islands...as well as treacherous reefs.
Next stop- Pontianak (Borneo). There are two or three ways to get there. One is to fly from Johor Bahru to Kuching, Sarawak (which has an "Khalastiwa Restaurant" despite being hundreds of miles away from it) in Malaysia...then fly to Pontianak. Another is to take the twice monthly Pelni ferry from Bintan. A third is to fly to Jakarta and then to Pontainak by air or ferry. Then there is the possibility of a ferry or freighter that runs from Pontianak to Bintan. Pontianak is virtually on the equator and they have an equator monument. And by taking a boat up the Kapuas River you would virtually hug it until you reached Sintang. At that point you have a choice...forge on to Putussibau and cross overland to the headwaters of the Mahakam...or return to Pontianak and try to fly to Balikpapan. On the east side of Borneo the equator crosses the coast near Bontang, which is near the Kutai NP where there are orangutans and other wildlife. You could also take a boat trip up a tributary of the Mahakam into the Maura Kaman Reserve or take a local bus from Bontang to Klampa.
Return to Balikpapan and fly to Sulawesi...fly to Palu (the equator crosses just north of there) better stay in nearby Donggala, which has great reefs. Or you could fly to Ujung Padang and make your way north through Tanah Toraja (Rantapeo) then to Manado via Palu. Or you could go from Palu to Poso and the to the reefs of the Togians...which are practically on the equator.
From the Togians there are ferries to Manado (more reefs on the nearby P. Bunaken). Near Manado there's also a Tarsier center at Tankoko Batuangus NP, active volcanos, waterfalls, etc. And regular daily ferries from Manado will allow you to cross over to your last point of the equator in Indonesia...the Molucca...Pulau Tenate, Tidore and Halmahera. This area is rich in history as it was the center of the colonial spice rivalries. lots of fortresses and sultan's palaces. Ternate and Halmahera have volcanos to climb and one may even see the marsupial long-nosed bandicoot on Halmahera, that, and the birdlife...will tell you that you have crossed Wallace's line.
Posted: 29 Apr 2006
Thanks RedApe, you sound like an expert in this area! have you done the trip yourself? visited any Dayak communities on the way? Or come across any pirates??!
Posted: 29 Apr 2006
Done THAT TRIP! No way!!! I did read a book about some uy who went road the world on the equator. But he didn't go to every spot...just the main places (Bonjol...skipped Kotoalam and Riau)...and I think he did go to Pontianak and the Moluccas. He certainly didn't cross Borneo overland! I've visted Dayak communities...but not in those parts. Maybe look up Laszlo's FAQ at the top of the SEAsia group page under "Indonesia". He has a lot of advice on Kalimantan.
Pirates...no never have seen any. I've done lots of trips across the Straits of Malacca, too. Pickpockets, yes. But no Bugis men peg-legs with parrots aperch! I don't think piracy is a big thing in that part of the Riau's - it's mainly local ferries that serve communities. Any pirates would suffer a lot of grief because somebody would likely know where they were hiding out. Nobody would want their lifeline cut off to the outside world and their relatives robbed. And I'd suggest that you fly from Kalimantan to Sulawesi. There are cheap daily flights.