Location : Kota Pontianak, Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia
Pontianak the capital of Kalimantan Barat may not be the most exciting city as far as tourism is concerned. However, it is an important gateway to Kalimantan’s many known & unknown CAN (culture adventure nature) tourism. Infrastructure improvement by the committed Indonesian government has cut driving from Entikong to Pontianak by a good 2 hours making the journey from Kuching to Ponti (as locals call it) a 5 hour drive. When you pass the halfway town of Ngabang do not forget to buy some of its prawn sausage. My non vegetarian friends were very impressed by its quality. Ponti is basically a Teochiew or Tiociu dialect majority city and hence offers many interesting snacks and food of which ‘mie kepiting’ or crab meat noodles is the most famous. The ‘gado gado’ here in my opinion is the best in Indonesia. The main street Gajah Mada at night is a hive of food vendors and diners. Take a stroll and find the best of roadside Chinese traditional food. The ‘pueh ki muay’ or ‘aeroplane porridge’ is remarkable too not just by its taste but more so for the speed at which they are served! Lightning speed. By the way, the notorious drains of Gajah Mada are now covered to prevent the ugly sight and stench of the 80s and early 90s.
Having local friends such as Julianto and Maria (couple) helps me discover more about Ponti the way that most tourists would not. They brought us to their childhood favourite homemade ice cream place which was actually a family house at Jalan Karel Karel Satsui Tubun right opposite Julianto’s former school Santu Petrus. The ice cream was really awesome. The most memorable was the ice kacang served in young coconuts, never seen elsewhere. There were many types of unique cakes and snacks too. A must go place when in Pontianak.
Besides the food attractions one may also spend a nice morning stroll along the banks of the Kapuas River watching the water taxis or sampan come and go, kids swimming or fishing and chatting with the locals.
In the afternoon, Maria, Julianto’s wife, brought us to her parents vegetable and swiftlet farms. While there we also visited nearby aloe vera farms(very fertile peat soil) which once upon a time flooded Kuching’s market. I am still wondering why it stopped after a couple of years.
The museum is another must visit place when in Ponti. Although the main hall was still under renovation at the time of our visit we found the rest of the place truly impressive. There is even a building just for beads and its history.
When all else have been done do go to The Mall to pamper yourself at Johnny Andrean Saloon something I never miss out anywhere in Indonesia. Go for the hair wash, head massage inclusive, back massage and reflexology all for less than USD15. Such a deal.
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