Jess is a Wanderer on the Equator
Day 74-75: If you've been following along with the adventure so far, you'll know that I rarely make plans. That's how I ended up standing on the Equator in Indonesia...
If you can't be bothered to read about my time at 0 degrees latitude, you can watch the video here:
I'd heard from some people that you could fly down to the middle (ish) of the island to an Indonesian town called Pontianak where the Equator actually passes through. I managed to find super cheap flights from Kota Kinabalu to Pontianak returning to Kuala Lumpur so I could pick up my flights to Laos later in the week. Everything was perfect.
Pontianak is a fairly large city with a hefty Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist population. I enjoyed an afternoon's sightseeing visiting the different places of worship and seeing all of the contrasting styles of architecture. I also did some boring bits like getting a passport photo taken for my Laos visa and exchanging $.
However, that was not the highlight of my visit. Arriving at the airport, I logged on to the free wifi (I do love an airport with a good free wifi package) and found that I was only a short drive from the Equator Monument and that it would cost me less than £5 with UBER. My hotel shuttle arrived and I was whisked away to a paradise resort on the edge of the city. It was a charming little find.
After dumping my bags, I hired what seemed to be the only UBER driver in the city and set off on my adventure. It took around 45 minutes to reach the monument and Ronaldo, the driver, took great pleasure in hosting me and showing off the city. His broken English was impressive and I understood most of what he was trying to explain.
At the monument I was a bit disappointed because the compass on my phone wasn't reading 0.0.0 but 0.0.3. I queried this with the security attendant and was told that the Equator had shifted 100m west back in 2005. It was easy to find the 'new' line as a smaller monument had been built showing the path which the line took. It was run down and completely empty of visitors so I had the place to myself and I was in my element! There was no entry fee other than about 30p for Ronaldo to park his car. Bargain!
I'd read online that an egg will stand up, perfectly balanced, on the Equator due to the gravitational pull. I'd also read that there were people at the Equator with eggs ready to demonstrate this spectacle. Alas, there was no-one there so I sent Ronaldo off to find an egg. When he returned, we were both marvelled by the fact that the egg did indeed stand upright!
All in all, Pontianak is a quiet city which (from what I could tell) doesn't receive many Western tourists. I was the subject of a lot of attention and it was most amusing. However, if you're looking for a unique experience (being treated like a celebrity), have an interest in religious places of worship and want to stand on the Equator, this is the place for you! There's also a fabulous little market where you could easily lose yourself for a couple of hours looking at all the handmade crafts and artefacts. I definitely recommend a visit if you're on the island!