November 3, 2007

singkawang sojourn day 3 & 4

Posted in Friends, Happenings, Kids, Snapshots, Social Responsibility According to Me, Travel and Adventure at 12:47 pm by meldee

Imma back for Part II. Am going to take my time doing this, as I need to conserve energy and witty quips for my other Singkawang/WV write-ups, and I need lunch (and coffeeeeeeeee) and want to run over to the Child Care Centre in PJ with some party dresses of my little cousin Celine in time for Deepavali so in case the older girls haven’t got any new dresses yet, these might do 🙂

Day Three began with breakfast. We had traditional Dayak food (as most of them are Dayak), cucur and…somethinglikelemang. And coffee. Man, these people like their sugar! I had two cups because after the tossing and turning, I needed the caffeine fuel to keep me going. But it turns out that that wasn’t breakfast, that was just an appetiser! Real breakfast consisted rice, more fried chicken, more pork, fresh cucumber slices (damn sweet!) and bamboo shoot kerabu. We were stuffed!

After breakfast, the lot of us jumped back into the 4WDs for the village of Sibale where we visited one of Kalimantan’s most renowned elementary schools. This place, Sekolah Dasar Subsidi Sibale, is different from the others, so we were told, because of the school spirit there, and attitudes towards learning. It has 167 students with many others on the waiting list, and is a private school of sorts because they get no government assistance.

The kids there welcomed us with another dance! We were then invited to sit in their classrooms 🙂

Yeah baby I was there!

There is something almost Communist-like about this photo, haha! But they’re not, I assure you. They were just lining up for a special assembly where we handed out more exercise books.  The kids then sang their school song for us, the bridge of which is stuck in my head: “ohh…I love Sibale..”

After sweltering in the sun accompanied by frantic fanning, we took off for the area of Sabau to the small sub-village of Tawang. About 7km from the town (if one could call it that) of Samantalan, we had to disembark from our comfy air-conditioned vehicles and trade them for motorbikes as the roads were BAD. Thank goodness it hadn’t rained, because we’d have gotten stuck in the red clay! I was really excited about getting on a bike again as the last time I did I was probably about 9 years old, and I was riding around Melaka with my late grandfather. I had the offer to go with Tim’s Stepdad Grant on his Ducati when I was in Bega but it never manifested 😦  Nevermind, next time.

Anggoro and I! Lemme just say it was an Experience, riding along these roads at a rather fast pace with no helmet, the hot sun beating down on you…it was about a 2km bumpy-lumpy-umpy ride, one of those which my Gran would remark: “Kalau pregnant memang tu baby sudah terkeluar!” (“If you were pregnant the baby would’ve come out already!”). You can see already from this photo how baked I am 🙂

Another welcoming committee!

But this time, with a garland of fluvvers! *heart* Ugh, my hair’s growing longer again and losing its shape already, bah!

The two main WV projects here was the clean water to every house, and this study hall sort of thing where the village kids could study, learn nature appreciation, dance, play games, etc 🙂 Most of the kids were barefoot here, which was kind of sad. There were also lots of farm animals wandering around aimlessly and pooping all over the place; one of the leaders told me they’ve been asking the government for the longest time about getting funding, or materials to build fences for the animals because it’s so unhygienic for the kids to be wandering and playing around fecal matter :/

The kids singing while others watched on.

After watching more performances, more speeches, and another huuuuuge lunch (where somebody mentioned there was dog meat if we wanted it, eeps!) it started to rain so we needed to take our leave before the roads got worse. So some of us squeezed into Pak Tom’s jeep while the others had to rough it in the rain on bikes (which I am very jealous about because I wanted to ride the motorbike in the rain! Hmmf!).

More cucur and somethinglikelemang, served with hot diluted condensed milk as appetisers.

It’s a miracle I managed this photo at all! The ride was about 10 squillion times more bumpy in the jeep! That’s (clockwise) Siew Ling, Su, Su Ting and me. And the bumpy-lumpy-umpy road.

After this, it was a huge sigh of relief to be back in the 4WDs on proper (this is highly debatable, but everything is relative) roads. One thing I should mention about the roads, they’re all full of potholes and are not done properly, at some stretches even the bridges are makeshift ones—our driver told us it’s because of the rife corruption among government officials. Hmm, sounds familiar…

Anyway we headed back to Singkawang, another close-to-2-hour drive. Hurrah!Most of us passed out for close to 2 hours after rejuvenating showers. Mmm, nice clean bed…

Group shot on the steps of the hotel foyer while waiting to go for dinner.

Singkawang is known for being the ‘Hong Kong of Indonesia’. It’s population is almost 70% Chinese, so you can imagine the overabundance of Chinese eateries. Combined with yowling sounds of bad karaoke and tacky CNY decorations that are never taken down, it was just like being in parts of Ipoh or JB! There are lots of Hakka people here, my kinsmen, yeaaaah.

It was Phoebe’s birthday the next day so we had an early birthday celebration for her with cake! After that was a short drive around the town (it’s actually pretty big!) before heading back to the hotel to pack, bum around, and get more shut eye.

The next morning, after breakfast (and extremely crunchy fried noodles, gaah), we headed over to the WV Singkawang office for a de-briefing session.

That’s Pak Tom talking, and explaining to us how the families for to-be-sponsored children are selected. It’s all very democratic, apparently talks go on for as long as 5 days. All the villagers are gathered and separated into groups where they begin to discuss whether each and every one of the families in the village qualify as impoverished, poor, moderate, or well-to-do. They are also given a list of criteria, of what qualifies as impoverished, etc. Each village has their own standards, so it’s all relative. I was extremely happy at this 🙂 We then each had to give a short speech on our feelings and thoughts, and a few of us had tears in our eyes as we spoke of what we’ve seen. Sadly for me, I didn’t understand most of it as it was in Mandarin, so I had to go with the short translations that came whispered my way.

After that, we very very very quickly made a stop at some places to buy goodies (and in my case, coffee, wahahaha!) before commencing our 3-hour drive to Pontianak to catch our flight back to Jakarta, then home. That’s our driver, Mas Hendrik (I think) doing the thumbs-up sign unwittingly as I snapped this photo 🙂 The coffee smelt yum! They ground it freshly before sealing them up. I bought a kilo of it 😀

Most of us slept in the car again. Haha.

After about an hour and a half of driving, we stopped off at Sungei Pinyu for lunch at another Chinese restaurant where we had fried noodles and pig’s insides *cringe*. I mean, the fried noodles weren’t bad, but I gingerly picked out the liver, intestines and huge chunks of pork lard. Gaah. I am so not Chinese ok.

We got to the airport just in the nick of time! We didn’t have to wait at all, just check in, have a quick toilet break, pay airport tax (Rp 25,000 – about RM10) and a compulsory donation of Rp 5, 000 (to which I indignantly exclaimed “It can’t be a compulsory donation, this is more like extortion!”) before we were allowed to go through. Oh wells, it’s only RM2 -_-”  But still, it’s the principle of the whole thing, no?

There’s always time for a photo! Me and Jia Xiang a.k.a Fatino having our celeb-plane-boarding moment.

A quick flight later and we were back in Jakarta! We said our goodbyes to Imelda *sobs* and proceeded to hunt for dinner, waste time, etc before our 8.20pm flight. Which was brought forward to 8.15pm. Which was then promptly delayed to 9pm.

I couldn’t find my Krispy Kremes 😦 So we had A&W for dinner instead. I kept to my word, no more fried chicken! I had a rather yukky fish burger instead. Digress: if they have beef, chicken and fish burgers, how come no one has duck burgers? I mean, I don’t like duck, but I’m sure others do. Why why? And also, why do they call them hamburgers if they’re not made from ham? Were hamburgers created in Hamburg the way sandwiches were created by the Earl of Sandwich?

While waiting for our shuttle bus to take us to the international terminal, Siew Ling and I wailed and scratched furiously at our assortment of bites. Here we are with our saviour, Mopiko! *three cheers* Now that I’m home, I’ve applied Calamine Lotion to my bites, so I look like a leper -_-” Yes, verrrrrrrry sexy.

Phew! Thus ends my 56k Killer post. Apologies if it isn’t as wordy as yesterday’s, but I’m sitting in a mighty uncomfortable position on my bed (mattresses, more like) and I’m dying for coffee. So I shall end this here, and add more notes, entries, etc as I go along. I will permalink these entries on my sidebar (if I can ruddy figure out how, bah—should be a breeze though) to enable easy access 🙂

In summary, how I found my trip though? Amazing. I was touched by the warmth and gentleness of the people, how readily they opened their hearts and homes to us. I was touched by them taking the time to put so much effort into planning our welcome ceremonies, meals, accomodation and all round comfort. I went there thinking I could teach the youth there a thing or two (me being highly successful and all, ahem), but it turned out the other way round.

They taught me how to be humble, how to be thankful for what I have and will have by virtue of my position of birth in the economic strata. They taught me good humour, to look at things with continuing wonder because life is something to be marveled at. They reminded me to hold on to my dreams and pursue them diligently, because they have it so much harder and yet their drive to succeed is almost as great as mine, if not greater.

This trip was a blessing. I say this without pomp and ceremony, and without further elaboration because in retrospect, too many things and epiphanies occurred for me to properly, cogently word it. So….yeah 🙂

I’m very very happy, and would love to go back there again.

Prepared with mosquito nettings, Ridsect, and a sleeping bag.



  1. Dr. Tan said,

    Woah! Kickass! Should probably go there as a journo one day.

    Or maybe work for UN.

    meldee: 😀 thanks yee hou. hehe yes, yes to both! ❤

  2. Shazeea said,

    That was awesome! What an amazing experience. I’m always dying for things like this but they never materialise.

    As for the coffee from Indonesia, how is it? When I was in Bandung last year we bought back 2 kilos of organic coffee from this guy who buys only the best beans and roasts them over wood fire, not gas. It’s slowly, slowly being drunk.

    meldee: it was 🙂 fantasticatabulous! the coffee isn’t bad, my grandfather loves his half-kilo but here at home i’m not so good at making this black coffee, i get the proportions wrong, especially if i have to make a potful -_-”

    aww babe you’ll have heaps more opportunities 🙂 you have the connections!

  3. tem said,

    Don’t use aerosol cans. Bad for the environment. Light a beewax candle or something la.

    meldee: whoops, sorry tems my bad ;P yes yes will bring serai (lemongrass) candles!

  4. Jillian Kaur said,

    really interesting post. im pretty sure it was a one in a lifetime experience. it was awesome ! it’d felt awesome reading it *giggles*

    you give me a will to think , should i try to join the UN or some sort?

    meldee: hey jillian! 🙂 oh, sorry, i thought you were another jillian i know…heh. but yeah, thank you 😉 it’s so nice to know that people out there enjoyed reading it! i hope i’ve inspired more people to give back to the community and reach out to more people. it’s great if you want to do such things, but make sure you’re prepared! 🙂 all the best ok xoxo

  5. Aldy said,

    Thanks to visit Singkawang.
    Singkawang is a nice place to visit cause singkawang is my hometown:P
    hometown is always the best place on earth ..:D

    meldee: 🙂 of course. my hometown is a mess though. haha. i look forward to going back there again!

  6. Jillian Kaur said,

    well if ur talking bout the other jillian who had wrote on ur comments. its me as well. i just didnt log in at that moment when i wrote u the comment.

  7. ngguanlim said,

    HI Melody, I head that in Singkawang most of the chinese are not that well off.

    One of my Indonesian chinese fren told me that some of the girls are sold as wives to men from taiwan and singapore.

    Did you hear anything thing like this when u were there?

  8. Martin said,

    nice post :). It really warmed my heart, and made me feel thankful for the blessing that I have received.

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