Alighting from the last step of the plane’s stairway, the sun’s rays shone golden on my face and shoulders. Jack stood ahead, his arms spread out wide, embracing the intense warmth.
‘We’re definitely near the equator then,’ I said to him.
Off the plane and standing on land, we had arrived in Kalimantan – otherwise referred to as Borneo, the world’s third largest island. Our main aim in mind was to make it to a small city called Singkawang, the home of a yearly Chinese celebration named Cap Go Meh. The closest airport being in Pontianak, we decided to make a slight detour on the way to Singkawang, to pay a visit to – and of course stand upon Pontianak’s famous equator line.
We met Pucuk and Lily (who had arrived on an earlier flight) in one of the airport’s cafes. Stifling hot and lacking a fan or air con, we quickly gulped down some ice tea and gobbled up some noodles to fill us for the four hour trip to Singkawang. We piled into our rented car and turned the air con up on full blast. Woof, it’s hot.
Pontianak is one of Kalimantan’s more major cities, built up with structured roads, but thankfully lacking the crazy traffic that Jakarta is infamous for. Peering out the car windows and taking in our new environment, it was only an hour later that we found ourselves at Pontianak’s monument dedicated to the equator.
Where the equator was marked in 1992, the monument stands steely and tall near to the entrance. Knowing that the equator has now since moved more southern, armed with our mobile phones set on compass mode, we followed the pathway that lead from the monument to the sea.
Before the sea there sits a small area which resembles a mini Greek auditorium. A red line runs across the floor’s middle – a line which had been painted to mark the spot of the equator in 2009. In the blaring midday sun and being so close to the equator, excitement and happiness overcame our overheated minds. We jumped, skipped, hopscotched and lay across the precious line, with one foot stood upon the northern hemisphere, and the other stood upon the southern, straddling the minute centimetres of no-man’s land.
Pucuk whipped out his phone, and like a bloodhound tracking the scent of a mystery, he carefully followed the swaying arrow and the rapidly changing numbers of his compass. After a few minutes of number chasing, he said with a Cheshire Cat smile, ‘I found it!’
In the corner of the auditorium, next to the wall, was the new line of the equator. A snapshot of his phone compass was taken, showcasing those beautiful zeroes that bear the equator line.
After some celebrating and break of coconuts to cool us down, we traipsed back up the pathway to the equator monument and climbed inside it’s mini museum.
Maps and pictures of the monument’s construction hung on the curved walls inside, and the original, much smaller monument stood right in the centre. A very bizarre sight stood atop of one of the small staircases inside. Two eggs standing side by side. My brain filled with confusion,
Who forgot their breakfast? I thought. It’s a bit random just to have two eggs on the floor, right? Am I missing something?
And then I realised, I had missed something. Eggs don’t stand straight. They lie on their side and roll around, smash on the floor and then it’s impossible to clean up.
The magnetic pull of the centre of the earth was pushing and pulling so equally that the eggs stood immaculately straight and still. Compared to the patriarch of eggs, dear bumbling Humpty Dumpty, they were signs of perfect oval elegance.
Meandering around the museum for a few minutes more, we then decided to pursue with our journey on to the mysterious city of Singkawang. Legends and myths swirled around this city – and we were keen to see it for real…
*Tune in next time for demons, spirits and possession…
Go Go Go!
Where: Ponitanak, Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia.
Why: For the chance of being able to stand in between the hemispheres upon the equator line.
How: Flights from Jakarta last around one hour. Lionair, Sriwijaya, Citilink, Air Asia and Garuda depart daily. We flew with Citilink with a return flight from Jakarta costing us around Rp 2,000,000 (around £100 – flight costs soar in February around the time of the Cap Go Meh festival).