Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Kalimantan Adventure Part 2

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of the adventure. For this part today, i will write briefly on the food and everyday life for the locals and myself. To start with, anyone wants to take a cold shower? That is the ONLY option available short of boiling water.
These are rainwater by the way. Water is not potable and harvested from rain.
The Pamukan Resort is managed by the palm oil plantation estate and is a guest house used to house guests such as myself and also visitors. I have been to another palm oil resort and i must say that this one tops it all. The amenities are good and most importantly clean. Toiletries placed in the room would make some hotel looked like a motel. There were real shampoo and real body wash liquid provided and not those 2-in-1 or 5-in-1 crap. The rooms are cleaned (swept and mopped) everyday, your laundry washed and ironed, shoes cleaned and your pajamas left on he bed folded. Some of us are not used to these luxuries and even resorted to hiding our dirty clothing away in case the take and wash it. Somehow, we even make conscious effort to clean the shoe we wear to prevent them from doing it for us.
Officers' Living Hall. Note the LCD and soundsystem setup
Less than officers' Hall. Note the CRT TV.
The only thing missing was Internet connection, which essentially explained why i was missing from the virtual world for the past week. Perhaps, it could be a good thing in some sense.
Our meals were all cooked by the live in family at the resort. It was fantastic food if you aren't too choosy like me and watching what you eat. Every meal has rice. Understandably, it is the energy needed for the Palm Oil estate workers. no complains on the meals on the 4 nights i was staying there. One thing to note, Indonesians in Kalimantan loves their rice as it is. They don't believe in nasi lemak or briyani. Just give them the plain white rice and it will rock their world.
Sardin curry for breakfast on rice, sambal, vegetable and tempe.
Rice, fried fish, vegetable, sambal and tempe for lunch
Oxtail soup that is almost stew like for dinner
Rice, prawns, turnips, tempe and well, sambal belacan...
...and sup sapi (beef soup) with green bean sprout and lemon
Rice, fried fish, sate, vegetable, sambal kerang and chicken soup
The cockles were huge. Half the usual spoon. Compared to the usual sized next to it
Rice, prawns, vegetables, fried chicken,, keropok and sambal belacan
and won't be complete without a tempe. This one, made from mashed tofu
Rice, egg curry, sambal ikan bilis and baby corn vegetable.
..and tempe...
Apart from these main dishes which never did repeat itself, the cook were good with afternoon delicacies for tea time. They make an assortment of kueh and even cakes which sometimes makes you wonder if they are secretly enjoying stuffing these down their guests' gastronomical tracts.
Pandan swiss roll and cucur udang with potent bird eye chilli
Which was precisely why you need the cold shower!
They make these kueh keladi or yam kueh. coated with icing sugar on the outside and coconut grating inside.
It was delicious. I refrain from second helping.
I was told that the Estate GM for this part of the world eats the same food as we do. He is the numero uno when it comes to the estates and manages the whole plantation with his equal, the Mill GM. Proudly so, both are Malaysians.
It has been a challenge eating clean but i told myself that i will not have enough of time to dictates what to eat. What i can do is to limit the portion on items such as rice and fried items (which is like of everything) and load up more on vegetables. Tough, but do-able. I came to KalSel weighing 68kg and got back weighing 70kg. That is how easy one can put on weight when a meal due to fried item will cost you 700kcal at least.
If you love spicy food, this will be heaven. I have my limitation with spicy food and had to tread it with caution. Especially so when the next day myself and PC planned for a short 30minutes run before going for work. Running in estate will allow us to mingle with the working class and see their daily activities. We started running at about 5.45am in the morning which by then has already started to get bright.
Fresh from...sleep. hahaha!
The biggest challenge of running in the estate was the terrain that forces the core to balance. Apart from the undulating route which goes up as fast as it went down, the air was fresh from the short rain the night before and you get to see the sun rises towards the end of your running session.
Having fun sweating
Cycling to school about 5km away is a luxury. Most walk especially those that can't afford to get their kids bike.
Along the way, we were greeted by the locals going to work (at 6am?) and most gave us a friendly honk on their motorbike or a friendly wave. I do not believe it is every day's sight to see two bule (foreigners, in Indonesian accent) running in their estate road. There is a local bus, which belongs to the estates that goes around picking up anyone and shuttling them close to, or to their destination.
Being chased by the bus?
It was a short 5.8km run for us within 35minutes. Happy that my iphone4 has build in GPS chips that can be used to log my run. I could not see the map until i got internet connection later. But it is more than enough. More so when it is not everyday i would get to run at that part of the world.
Even GoogleMap don't think the place is important!
Oh ya, a photo of the sunrise that greeted me for the past 5 mornings?
Attempting Barefoot walking/running with PC the next morning
The sunrise is magical and the countryside starts to get the warmth by 6.30am. Fantastic.
The rest of the days there were spent shuttling between the Resort and to the Palm Oil mills around the area. Here, distance is secondary as 8km journey will take 15minutes and a 40km journey a long 1.5hours. Undulating estate roads where the ground are a mixture of silt and sand (i have not forgotten my soil borelog!) and often using river stones such as those above to line them.
Typical road and traffic. Sky is always blue with clouds. Fantastic.
Estimated distance and travel time with average 30km/h driving
The chart above shows how critical time is instead of distance when moving within the estates and mills. Of course, it is often just a guidance or best case scenario. Once it rain or once a truck or two get stuck or breakdown, it is "good luck to you". Remember the photo from Part 1? Here is for Part 2.
No tools? Got hands!
Story has it that the Isuzu truck was coming down from the slope a bit faster than it should and lost traction upon seeing the Toyota truck that was stuck in the road due to overloading. So, the only exit point for the commuters were blocked off by the Isuzu truck. It is heartwarming to see how locals comes out to help, with their bare hand to move the stones away so that the Toyota truck could try to move out from the silt. This is everyday occurrence and surprisingly, the people are so patience and i have not seen any incidences of road rage, name calling, finger shoving or things familiar with all of us driving in Klang Valley road. We should consider to send Malaysians to South Kalimantan to make them better driver.
Everyone lined up. No one cut queue. In Malaysia, trust someone will go from the back all the way to the front...
That is it for Part 2. Wait up for Part 3 where i will share more. :)


  1. When you miskin of something, you are kaya of something else.
    Miskin harta tapi kaya budi bahasa.

  2. Kam - it was a humbling experience. Those of us without a maid at home are certainly not used to these type of treatment. SOme ppl after makan they leave their plates on the table. We helped to pack all plates and put it one side, as they don't want us in their kitchen!

  3. Nice writing on KalSel, wish I could visit the Indonesian part of Borneo one day. 5.8km on estate road in 35 minutes? That was quite a fast run.

    By the way, the food is tempting. I'd put about 5 kilos if it was me :)

  4. I've beeen to other parts of asean too.In my opinion, Malaysian drivers are "memang KURANG AJAR" compare to our neighbours!

  5. Lucius Max - it is a wild untamed side of the world where civilization and traditional living is still in harmony. :)

    The food served was fantastic bro. Restraining myself was hard. But have to do it.

  6. Anon - Jakarta Jam and Bangkok Jam are two fine example how ppl using th same road share and patiences. Malaysian won't survive anywhere near there.