Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pontianak, West Kalimantan

The capital of West Kalimantan, or Kalbar (short for "Kalimantan Barat"), PONTIANAK is a sprawling, grey industrial city of 400,000 lying right on the equator on the confluence of the Landak and Kapuas Kecil rivers. It is hot and noisy, and most travellers stay just long enough to stock up on supplies before heading up the Kapuas or straight on to Kuching. On the western side of Sungai Kapuas Kecil you'll find the Chinese quarter, the commercial heart of the city where most of the hotels, restaurants and travel agents are located. In the centre of this quarter, right on the water's edge, is the Kapuas Indah bemo terminal , which is connected to a second bemo terminal in Siantan , on the eastern side of the river, by a regular passenger ferry.

The eye-catching Istana Kadriyah , built in 1771, and the traditional Javanese four-tiered roof of Mesjid Jami stand near each other on the eastern side of the Kapuas Kecil, just to the south of the confluence with the Landak. Small passenger boats from the eastern end of Jalan Mahakam II cost Rp200 for a shared canoe or Rp750 for a rowing boat. But Pontianak's most entertaining attraction is the Museum Negeri Pontianak (Mon-Thurs & Sat 8am-1pm, Fri 8-11.30am, Sun 9am-noon; Rp350), a comprehensive collection of Dayak tribal masks, weapons and musical instruments. The museum lies 1.5km south of the town centre on Jalan Jend A Yani; bemos leave from the Kapuas Indah terminal (Rp350) or you can rent a becak (Rp1000). Just round the corner from the museum, on Jalan Sutoyo, is an impressive replica of a Dayak longhouse , over 50m long and 15m high, where you're free to wander around. Pontianak's twelve-metre-high equator monument stands by the side of Jalan Khatulistiwa on the way to the bus terminal. Catch any bemo to the bus terminal from the Siantan ferry port; the monument stands about halfway along the road on the left-hand side.


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