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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Visitors (Part II)

This is the story of two foreigners visiting our hometown, Pontianak, day 2 and 3. Curious?  Read on! For those who missed the day 1 adventure, you can click here

The next morning was almost without a trace of the social unrest from the night before. Our guests seemed to be oblivious to it until I told them what had happened. By the way, when I met them, they were having breakfast, which was rather puzzling given that the hotel booking actually didn't include breakfast to begin with! I wasn't entirely sure whether the hotel staff was in awe with them or misunderstood them, but for some reasons, they actually had breakfast for free during their stay there.

From Harris Hotel, we walked to the famous A Siang coffee shop (note that the local spelling for A Siang is without 'h' after the capital 'A'). The coffee maker, A Siang, was busy making coffee without wearing any shirt as usual so God helped us if his sweaty armpit ever dripped an extra ingredient into the coffee he made. 

While we were on our way there, Lawrence observed that not many people actually walked on the road like us. He was correct. Pontianak is so hot and humid that walking on the road, especially during noon time, is considered as madness. People are used to riding motorbikes, regardless how near the destination is. On the other hand, from a local's point of view, namely me, I can't believe how different he and James dressed up as compared with locals even though I'd informed them that it was better to blend in (at least James gave it a try, although he might want to skip wearing cap, especially wearing it backwards). Bermuda shorts are the total giveaway! No locals wears that, especially when they are on foot! If crime was to happen, they could have been robbed as they were easily identified as non-local Chinese, hence they must be easy targets.

Bumped into Tedy at A Siang coffee shop.

As luck would have it, we bumped into my friend, Ted, whom triggered Lawrence's curiosity as he never smiled at all throughout the coffee break session that we had there (although, on his defence, he did offer them cigarettes). There was also this street vendor who tried to be friendly and stroke a conversation once he got to know that Lawrence came from Singapore (Hokkien is another giveaway since we speak only Teochew or Hakka there and, hey, I did tell you that we're the curious bunch, hence the friendliness).

In front of the Cathedral.

From the coffee shop, we then walked to the cathedral and the building, much to my surprise, actually managed to impress our visitors. It seems like in a town so messy and run down, one certainly didn't expect a fine architecture standing tall (the picture here may not do the cathedral justice, so Google it instead). We wandered there for a while before we reversed and cut through a wet market called Pasar Mawar (literally translated as the Rose Market). It was there and then that Lawrence asked, "what's with two layers of iron doors in the shop houses?"

I didn't realize that it looked weird until he questioned that. Singapore must be so safe a country that such house protection would be deemed as overkill, but in Pontianak, it is just one of the ways for the owner to secure his house and it's completely normal. Life is certainly different down there!

Presenting the MRT card to Harry at Julia's Cake.

After taking a shortcut via the wet market, we went to my friend's bridal and cake shop that is famous for his Kue Lapis (layered cake). His name is Harry. The reason for the visit was this: I actually held some sort of competition few months earlier and the winner would get a MRT card that can be used during Singapore Trip: Walking Tour and Sentosa on June 2017, an upcoming event for school friends organized by yours truly. Harry was voted as a winner so there we were and James, aptly representing Singapore, passed the MRT card to Harry, a symbolic gesture of welcoming him to Singapore. Hopefully Harry will remember to bring his MRT card by then.

Fast forward to lunch time, we were joined by another friend of mine, Tuty, whom mistook Lawrence as my Dad, thanks to his glorious white hair. We then sent the white haired man back to the hotel because he claimed that he got motion sickness and needed some rest. We also abandoned the plan to go to Tugu Khatulistiwa that stands right on Equator line and went to have some ice cream in front of my high school instead. James was there with us when we were trapped by rainstorm. It was kind of funny when James pointed to me that the floor of the ice cream shop was flooded rapidly, because witnessing such thing must be new to him while it was expected by the rest of us. In the end, we were sent to Tuty's car by the shopkeeper. He carried a giant umbrella, the kind you normally find on an outdoor table, to shelter us from the heavy rain.

Going thru the torrential rain. 

That evening, I didn't get a chance to accompany them as I had a wedding to attend (it was the reason why I went back in the first place), so the dynamic duo explored the nearby area themselves. They had noodles for dinner, then went for souvenirs such as Montblanc wallet @ SGD 20. We planned for drinking sessions but had it scrapped as there was a hearsay that the riot were going to happen again. Also gone was the plan to try out snake meat soup which was supposed to be one of the highlights of visiting Pontianak. Too bad.

The last morning the visitors were in town, we tried out kway cap. Same though the name as the one in Singapore, it is totally a different kind of food. In Pontianak, it is made of white kway lumped together with pig skin, that's all. A local favourite, it clearly didn't do wonders for Lawrence and James. A little too plain for their liking, I guess. From there, we went for lontong satay on the stall spotted by James yesterday. As you can tell from the name, it has both lontong, the rice cake, and satay, covered in diluted peanut sauce. This one did a little bit better than its predecessor.

Lawrence would like to take becak (a localised rickshaw) right after that. As there was no way that it could fit in two passengers, Lawrence took off with his ride while I bargained with another for James. When he finally agreed, the poor becak guy made an honest remark about how the fat one should have gone to the other becak rider instead. And the ride brought them back to the hotel, ending their adventure in a small town called Pontianak. We went to airport afterwards, leaving my hometown in the afternoon...

At Aneka Rasa Restaurant.
From left to right: James, Anthony, Harry, Vivi, Tuty and Lawrence

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