Malaysia

Most of Borneo belongs to Indonesia, except the northern coast which belongs to Malaysia. Went first to Pontianak, which sits right on the equator. It’s so good to be in a place where the satellite dishes point up vertically… First time I crossed the equator on the surface.

After the rather unpleasant 11-hour night bus ride over potholed dirt paths, and after all those mid-range Asian hotels that think they’ve done their job if the white tiles are clean and the roof doesn’t leak and the fluorescent tubes flouresce, and after those picturesque but primitive boat heads, I checked into the upscale but very reasonably priced Batik Boutique hotel in Kuching. You can really tell if a hotel was designed, built, and managed by the owner; the place feels like a home. The big granite bathtub in each room alone is a reason to stay here. And I was invited to watch a movie too; they have a beamer. Also got a lot of useful information.

Such as how to get to the “cultural village”, which is a small lake where all the local tribes were invited to build a prototypical ancestral home for their entire village; a little like the longhouses of southern Borneo. It’s like an executive summary of the widely scattered home villages of these tribes, which have of course modernized. Some of these homes are huge – four floors on stilts 12m tall, and the one the tribe still lives in today is four times as large on 18m stilts!




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