Overview. My auto venture covered exactly 60 days, two third of my journey with Neo Chian and one third with my family members. It was a lifelong experience which will edged in all our memories . Borneo Island was extremely challenging as we crossed into uncovered territories and sailed across rivers and the Java Sea in different environmental conditions, in different transportation modes. We met many people and friends who have been extremely friendly and helpful. We had a few near accidents but GOD was with us. Will highlight my most memorable time in each of the countries and places I visited. The people who made our trip that more interesting and memorable.
BRUNEI. I have been in this country for many years and my most memorable occassion is the dinner we had with Pehin Mohammad , Pengeran Ibnu and his Generals. These friends of mine are so warm and helpful, it was the best place to start our journey. Our SAF friends and Singapore Embassy, in Brunei, add to this warmth . Empire 6 stars hotel was more than worth the stay. Thank You My Bruenian friends.
EAST MALAYSIA - Sabah and Sarawak
SABAH. Mt Kota Kinabalu's sunset and breakfast under Pine trees was the coolest moment of this trip. And the rolling Oil Palm estates that travel for miles was an eye opener. Places of interests includes:
1. Mt Kota Kinabalu - never forget the " sunset " and morning breakfast under pine trees
2. Danuem Valley - challenging and robust to get there. Not sure I will make it there in later years. The forest and suspension bridge over a fast running river was an excellent place for Qigong. Want a quiet retreat from out of the world - go there.
3. Sandakan - heard about it but didn't understand how rich and developed.
We have Han Tiong and Yen Ching to thank for their guidance and his care in monitoring us until we were in Kalimantan. Thank you Han Tiong and Yen Ching.
SARAWAK. Amazingly rich - economically and culturally. Like Brunei- go and take a look. The towns are well developed and shows gracious living in many of them. Places of interest includes
1. Miri and into Bario - thought Miri was " Mini " but not so. Miri is a beautiful town and morning coffee at the market place was fun wathing retirees playing chess and sipping coffee.
2. Bario- Rice field , long houses and out into the deep of Sarawak. Life goes on with simple living. Extremely poor electricity and water supplies. But GOD is with them all the time. Want to see healthy old folks in the 90s and 100ths . Go Bario
3. Bintulu - didn't have the chance to stay there but the building architectures were interesting. Will spend time - the next visit
4. Sibu - Biggest market in Asia. See to believe
5. Kuching and into Entikong. Kuching is about the most developed in East Malaysia. 5 stars hotels lined this town. Night life and entertainment aplenty.
6. Road into Entikong , our gateway to Kalimantan was intriguing. The experience to cross thru Customs, Immigrations, Police, buying insurance with little " manageable fuzz " reflect the preparedness of my partner Neo Chian. Can't imagine if we were denied entry.
Friendly Cautions. Contrary to warnings by many to be careful , the Malaysians are much more friendlier than in Peninsula Malaysia. The people and the tribes welcomes you and are eager to tell you more, esp in BARIO. Thank you my Malaysian friends.
INDONESIA. Kalimantan, Bali, Central and Western Java
KALIMANTAN. This is the highlight of phase one of our journey. Compared to Java, Kalimantan is still very much underdeveloped. The towns are however active , crowded but very unclean, except for their " Toilets " -the Chinese should learn from these people on toilet behaviors.
1. Singkawang - Good to see my relatives and ex home to my wife, Michelle , and my in- laws. The kheks dominates this town and the local food can't be emulated elsewhere. Char kway teow and kor loh mee the teochew style were mouth watering. Thank you Ah Keong and Ah Lang
2. Pontiananak - Want to see a crowded town , not well organised but a sea port providing the lifeline to major part of Kalimantan. Easy to reach - direct flights from Singapore
3. Batu Lichin - Small sea port and coal mining areas. Never forget the 40 hours on board PT Kirana from Balikpapan stopping at Batu Lichin and then to destination Surabaya.
4. Banjarmasin - Relative " Amien " was most hospitable. Arrange for the " River Market ", monkey island, bird nest rearing house and local foods. Population of 1 million people, predominently muslims. Worth a longer visit. Thank You Amien
5. Balikpapan - Oil and Coal country, the people there are well off. Thanks to nephew , Sunny, for arranging accomodations and visit to places of interest. Could have visited the Coal mines.
6. Samarinda - Go see the biggest " Islamic Educational Center " and perhaps the largest mosque in Indonesia. Compound of 600m x 400m. This town is richer and bigger than Balikpapan
7. Tenggaran - Old heritage town but upgraded into modernisation. My opinion - nicest city / town in Kalimantan
PT Kirana. The 40 hour humbling experience staying on board with the majority poor was a real experience. Be prepared for the shock effect if you come from a developing or developed country. It has a humbling effect and helps you to reflect how fortunate you are. But GOD has HIS WAYS to look after everyone.
BALI - Need no further recommendations. The Europeans, in particular, love this mystical sunny island endowed with cultural diversity and richness. The beachlines and the mountainous characters provides different experiences and fun. 10 days in Bali was not enough for us.
Central and Western Java . We were lucky to have in-laws in SOLO. From there we radiate in all directions, covering Jogjarkarta, Malang, Surabaya, Probolingo and the many attractions.
1. Mt Bromo was unforgettable. Within 3 months, I went to this retreat area thrice. Will love to organise little group to visit in 2010. Not forgetting Pacet the mountainous drive thru Apple plantations, vegetable and padi plantations, hot springs and visit to Batu and Malang
2. Jogjarkarta Beaches. Palangtritis black sand dunes, Krakal and Baron beaches and its hugh waves was worth a drive , especially thru padi plantations and vegetable plots . Was a educational program especially for Patrice to see the authentic " kampongs " , stream and rivers and the narrow tracks that links to humblr dwellings and onto highways.
3. Boroburdo need no special introduction. With hotels now established in this area, staying there for a couple of days will be possible.
4. Royal Graveyards. Saw these in Samarinda and in Solo. Sultans and descendants of these places and the late Pak Harto are places of visits , quite unusual for the normal tourists. Culturally enriching
5. Solo. Don't underestimate this town. Very well developed, it is also culturally rich. My three weeks there allows me to see so much and yet it is still not enough
Thank to brother and sister-in-laws, Pak and Ibu Daradjadi for having us and sister-in-law, Connie and Totok , our local knowledgeable tour guides
Next Auto Venture. Well got to get back to work first. Perhaps, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and China could be interesting options. Until then, may I thank all my friends, particularly Neo Chian , and relatives for the friendship , their guidance and their patience with us over the last 2 months.
LANTERNS IN MOTION. My core biz in providing lantern shows in the region. Watch out for my new Blog if any show comes along.
May I wish everyone A Blessed Xmas and A Happy and Healthy 2010.
Thank You and GOD BLESS.
[ps. Anyone who needs informations on the places we covered, I will be more than happy to share other details, photographs and the Dos and Don't . Bye