November 27th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

The Tridaya – one of the Makassar schooners we tried

Finding a boat to Kalimantan was the number one priority for the day, so tho’ we took time to eat a large bowl of porridge, + then stop off to collect our photos, that is what we set our sights on.  Before we had left for Toraja, there had been many boats listed as heading for Balikpapan, in Kalimantan, but now that we had returned + wanted to go there, there was nothing.  By contrast, a couple of boats were shortly off to Surubaya, which we had crossed off our list.  That, I suppose, is life.

We still had one card to play, to try the Makassar schooners in Paotere, but while we were still in town, we went to the Kodak 1 hour developing shop.  We hadn’t been entirely happy with the Sakura developing we’d had done, + had another film to put thro’.  This turned out to be a real curate’s egg, good + bad in places, some brilliant photos, some washed our as before, some missing completely.  It occurred to Val thast it might be the camera battery causing the problem, + on examination this proved to be the case.  Fortunately tho’, we were able to replace it there + then, + at not at all a bad price.  Then to Paotere.

We walked, since it really isn‘t that far, tho’ we had all sorts of problems making people understand our pronunciation of the place.  We arrived just after 4 tour buses had pulled in to the place, but fortunately they didn’t stay more than about 20 mins.  We asked around the various schooners, + generally received an excellent reception.  The first one in particular they were all magnificently friendly.  The captain gave us his address in UP (I think), + another one in Balikpapan to which we should apply, mentioning his name.  The boat was going to Balikpapan, + they were perfectly willing to take us, for nothing, the man said… only they weren’t leaving for about 12 days.

On another boat, I was taught a game they were playing up on the bridge, a sort of cross between billiards + shove-ha’apenny, played on a large flat polished board.  They too weren’t able to take us tho’ – in fact the only possibility was a boat the guys on board said was leaving for Balikpapan, in 2 days time.  The captain, tho’, wasn’t present, so we would have to return tomorrow morning to find out if it would be any good for us.

Playing the game

We walked back, checking another hotel on the way to see if it would be cheaper than the Ramayana.  We were given a lift there from a shop at which we asked the way, which was very  nice indeed of the people, but the hotel did not prove a sensible alternative – it was cheaper by R1000, but considerably smaller, so the Ramayana it was to remain.  We siestaed during the afternoon, + then went into town again at about 5.  It did not begin as a good outing.  Val wanted to go to the market to buy some sugar, so we headed down a side-street that she thought led down to it.  We were tho’ assailed by hordes of unpleasant youths + kids.  We had obviously wandered into what was more or less a slum area, where few if any white faces were seen, + even when people didn’t shout out or crowd round, the atmosphere was thick with curiosity + hostility.  However, once we’d gone so far, we reckoned we were in for more troubles by turning back, so we just kept going, + tried to work our way round, but the road became narrower as we went, + we were only too delighted finally to regain the main road + catch a bemo to town.

Immediately we lighted from that tho’, kids swarmed round, asking for something, I don’t know what – I didn’t take the time to enquire.  First stop, once I’d sent our friends packing, was the Kodak shop once more.  Val had compiled a whole list of reprints she wanted done – film processing + printing is very cheap here (about the same as England I suppose) so it seems silly not to take advantage of it.  (On the other hand, as we agreed later, we had probably gone too far.)  The people in the shop were very nice, which cheered me up – they even showed us some Canon cameras.

And then, looking for somewhere to eat, we happened upon a fine place.  They had satays (meat cooked on skewers like kebabs) frying outside, which tempted us in, + immediately we walked in we were greeted by some youths, asking us what we wanted to drink.  (We ended up paying for our beer, but I didn’t mind.)  I was a bit nervous at first – more hassles I didn’t need – but in fact it turned out splendidly.  The food was fabulous, the 3 young guys all spoke halting English, + were excellent company, and we laughed + chatted for quite a while.

By no means as negative a response as we might have got on the various boats we tried, though no actual result, so maybe we are just being humoured. And our encounters with local people are not enjoyable. I know that in theory I should try to keep my good temper, but it can prove challenging when one is already in an anxious state. But then our later encounter proved that it was possible to have friendly encounters too.

That rain came down heavily while we were there, so it was a soggy run back to the Photo Shop – more smiles there – and then to the bemo centre.  We were charged over the odds, but as the difference in effect amounted to about 9p for the 2 of us (+ it was still raining) I persuaded Val to climb aboard.  Chatted with a preacher on board who came from Ke’le in Toraja.  Showed him our phots of the ceremony.  He’d been there too, + one of our pictures was of his house.  Amazing!

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