“I’m planning to go to Sambas tomorrow. Is there a bus in the morning?
” Ada mas.”
“So I wait at Terminal Pasiran?”
“No, no, no! If you wait at Pasiran you’ll end up paying more. Better you wait at Simpang Gabe. It’s about 10 minutes by ojek. I can send you tomorrow.”
I must thank the honest and hospitable staff of Sinar Khatulistiwa. At the very least I know what to look out for in my travels next time.
I woke up early as I usually do, and grabbed breakfast at what is now my favourite morning spot. Hung around with Chiang the 66 year old backpacker for the last time before I waved goodbye at Singkawang.
Simpang Gabe itself is nothing more than a road junction with waroengs. A few minivans sat there waiting for passengers. This time I sat at the front, with better legspace.
The driver spoke in a creole of Malay I couldn’t understand, fast and nasal. I think he got used to speaking over the loud roar of his battered minivan engine. We stopped along the way to pick up passengers, passing by many towns and bazaars. The road in many places is relatively good.
After an hour we entered Pemangkat, a major town midway through our trip and circled the narrow, dusty streets. Pemangkat sits at the mouth of the Sambas River, along a stretch of somewhat muddy beach. It has a very last frontier feel to it.
We continued on our journey, as the jungle got thicker, the roads quieter. The humid air was stifling. People came on and stopped. A baby threw up on the shawl of his mother. Cargo collected and dropped on the wayside. 3 hours later we arrived in Sambas town, the place with a dark past.