Journey Pt. 12 – Borneo – Banda Sera Begawan – tropical city with stilted village, mosques and temples.
We have just crossed the equator heading for Borneo! As usual there is the same silly pageant on deck with people dressed up with seaweed and gowns, covering volunteers with shaving foam and dunking them in the swimming pool. The Captain asked Neptune for permission to cross the equator. It was a farce. Yet it was a farce with a history. At one time, back in the days of yore, this was a solemn ceremony. Sailing was dangerous. The seas could be terrifying as mountainous waves swamped ships and little wooden craft were tossed about like toys. Back then they believed the Gods created the storms and needed pacifying. We see in the Odyssey how sacrifices were made. Back then gods such as Neptune were real. Now, we look back at those beliefs as daft. The ceremony is now ‘a bit of a lark’. There were amazing feats of creativity on deck as the chef did the most amazing ice carving in no time at all!We were back into the northern hemisphere. Just 50 days left!Borneo is hot. 31 degrees!!! We headed off to the local town and boarded the local bus. The locals were extremely friendly and interested in these Westerners joining them, fascinating for us. It was a 30 minute journey, bumping along and hurtling down the roads. Around us was the lush tropical rainforest. We were heading for Banda Seri Begawan – the capital city. Off the bus we walked along the waterfront looking over to the stilted town and back towards the impressive bridge. Then it was straight off to see the wonders of the Mosque. There was a fantastic reflective water pool in front complete with large colourful tiled ship. As mosques go it was a beautiful example. They build to impress and Muslim architecture, ceramics and abstract art is extremely beautiful. The next stop was the stilted water village. We took a local boat and he took us round the village, out to the mangrove swamp, complete with crocodile, and over to the Royal Palace. The village was extensive with stilted hospital, schools, fire-station and police station. Back on land we headed for the shopping mall to cool off with air-conditioning and a local cinnamon and honey ice-drink with tapioca – very different.Refreshed we set off to check out the Chines Temple. The gruesome warriors, demons and gaudy red, blue and gold, bells, dragons, drums, idols, incense and bonsai trees all part of the rich pageant. It all goes into the rich tapestry of religion. You have to wonder at what people believe. Hot, and sweaty again we headed back to the boat on the local bus.Quite a day!!Off somewhere else tomorrow!! Just have to plan a five course meal in the restaurant for today. It’s a hard life but we’re not wilting yet!!