The Sultan of Pangkalan Bun
10 October 2008 | Borneo (Kalimantan)
Leaving Darwin 6 weeks after the start of the Sail Indonesia rally, Sora had not attended any of their scheduled activities yet. We're now in position to join the rally group for an entire day's sightseeing, culminating with dinner at the Yellow Palace.
We begin with 2 hours at their local market stalls buzzing with frenzied activity, flies, and the chatter of hundreds of different Indonesian dialects. Next a visit to the traditional Ironwood Long House built on 20 foot pilings. The structure is so high to enable the natives to defend against head-hunter attacks. It was not explained how one can tell a head-hunter from any other foe, guess they must wear skulls around their waists? There actually were head-hunter attacks here as recently as 3 years ago. Borneo is truly the dark island!
In the afternoon all 60 cruisers were treated to an Arut River cruise. Just what the Dr. ordered - leave your sailboat behind for a river cruise on motorized canoes! Two or three cruisers snuggled in the bottom of each canoe waving to the spectators lining the banks while the drivers raced down the river and back amid diesel fumes. What fun it was, naked little kids jumping into the water while their elders waved, whooped, and hollered to the "long noses" - our affectionate nickname. The media were snapping pictures along the way as we became the poster children for "Visit Indonesia 2009".
After the traditional dances performed by their beautiful young folks on the grounds of the Yellow Palace, the Sultan's emissary invited us to stay for dinner which consisted of a lavish buffet of strange and mostly delicious treats. Unfortunately this was eaten only after many political speeches, cruiser and official Sail Indonesia replies in both languages, and gift exchanges. The young folks performed again and invited the cruisers to join in the final dance at 11 PM.
You must remember these cruisers are usually up with the sun and down shortly after its setting. But most importantly, this is a Muslim country where alcohol is forbidden - an anathema for cruisers! A very long, action packed, culture filled day was enjoyed by us all though!
Cheers to unusual foods and unique situations! KK