From floating market to the intersection

After an incredible stay at Swiss-BelHotel Banjarmasin with my spritely host Arief Faisal, I headed west, hoping to reach Pontianak in 2 days. Alas, road networks here don’t allow that. So I had to made my way north to a city I can never remember the name of – something like Palankarayala – from where I’ll turn south-west and then west.

Arief - the manager of the Swiss-BelHotel in Benjarmasin was very hospitableA contact of Arief’s organized me a free lift in a small people mover which sped along through what seemed to be endless deforestation. I don’t know the local ecology, so I can’t be sure, but the landscape to me looks biologically weak. Nonetheless, I was aware there’s an orang-utan conservation reserve along this road somewhere and I hope to visit it in the near future. The forest here reminds me of Cameroon’s jungle – teeming with life. There aren’t many wild birds to be seen in Indonesia as one travels around, I’ve noted (I’m a keen twitcher), but Kalimanatan – Borneo – appears to have more flying across the road than in other parts of the country.

The floating market was an experience worth the tripMy mind keeps drifting back to Arief. His hospitality was a god-send. I won’t forget that man in a hurry. He even arranged a chartered boat to put-put out along the big river to the floating market. What a sight. If you stay in Swiss-BelHotel Banjarmasin, I highly recommend you take the tour; it was well worth it: coal barges, soaking jungle logs, bartering on the water and more. With Arief’s commentary, I learned more than I’d do by reading a guidebook for 20 minutes.

In this impressively clean and well-managed city of Palankarayala, I hit rock bottom. As the people mover rounded another corner on a broad road, I felt the flesh inside the device pressing hard into something, rubbing. With no concern for other passengers, I instinctively grabbed the device under my pants and tried to alleviate the pain. I could feel bubbles of sensitive flesh expanding through the ventilation holes in the device. They felt like grapes to my fingers. These bubbles were the size of peas, and I had 4 of them popping through the device holes.

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