Thursday, November 12, 2009


1. Today, Nov 12, Day 29, is our last day in Kalimantan. This evening, we will board KM Kirana. It will be 44 hrs of cruising, from Balikpapan to Surabaya. We have booked ourselves a twin-sharing room. It should be comfortable enough and we can catch up with our reading.

2. A little regret was our decision to drop Sulawesi from our itinerary. Based on the information we gathered from the 3 shipping companies, there are no routes that will take us to Makassar/Pare Pare and then to Nusa Tenggara islands. We could have continued to check, or to take the risk and go ahead and travel to Makassar. But, given our time line, that we want to be back by Christmas and that we had already taken a few more days than planned for Borneo, we felt that it was the best course of action to take given the circumstances.

3. All in all, we traveled more than 6000 km in Borneo. We had nearly circumnavigated Borneo, about 3/4 of the way. From the map, the road North of Samarinda is still not through to SE Sabah where we got to Semporna. Who knows, maybe there are already tracks that link the 2 areas. One day, conceivably, a round Borneo car rally could be organised. It may not be long before this happens. It could be fun and put Borneo in greater focus.

4. Overall, the roads we traveled, from Sabah to Brunei and Sarawak, crossing over at Entikong, and then to Pontianak, Sumpit, Banjarmasin, Balikapapan and Samarinda, were generally quite trafficable for normal cars, less the 200 km from Tayan to Simpang Runtu which was really WIP (work in progress) with the many bridges and culverts still under construction, and the occasional potholes and rough patches along the way.

5. By 2010, we were told the trans-Kalimantan road will be ready, coast to coast, from Pontianak to Balikpapan. We could see the commitment and the urgency with which the provincial governments were undertaking this task. This road, when completed, will open up many areas for development and this could be done sensitively without further damaging its environment. It could open up a new era for Kalimantan and for all Borneo cooperation.

6. Of the cities we visited, Balikpapan and Samarinda appeared to be the most advanced and prosperous, possibly because of the income the province receives from oil and coal exported. On the whole, Kalimantan is really virgin land. Tremendous opportunities lie ahead if the area is well led and organised. Close cooperation between the provinces would also be crucial. There could also be closer cooperation with the Northern neighbors.

7. It will be nice to come back here in 5-10 years to see an energised Borneo.

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