At around 9 a.m that day in Pontianak, West Kalimantan I was standing under the big bright yellow sun, coming to realization that my friends were not exaggerating when they were fussing about the city’s scorching weather.
As with Padang in West Sumatra, Quito in Ecuador, and Kigali in Rwanda, Pontianak is on the equator.
Even though it wasn’t my final destination, I gave Pontianak a chance - 24 hours – and the city was surprisingly appealing.
I discovered that it was a man called Syarif Abdurrahman Al-Kadrie who first proclaimed the name Pontianak.
During his journey to explore the Kapuas River, The first Sultan of Pontianak found a haunted land full of ghosts – locally known as Kuntilanak. In order to dispel all of the ghosts, the Sultan shot a cannonball toward the area and occupied the land as part of Melayu kingdom.
My day spent exploring the Equator city resulted in this list of seven best activities to do there:
1. Visiting the equator monument Pontianak’s ultimate landmark is certainly one to put in the must-visit list.
The monument is filled with geographical information related to the equator, and it is also a playground for astronomy enthusiasts. I entered the building and found people trying to make eggs vertically stand against gravity.
“When on the equator, gravity undergoes several effects. One of the phenomena [in this situation] is standing eggs,” said Sri Wijayanti, one of the officers at the monument.
2. Learn traditional Dayak culture at Huma Betang
Despite their fierce appearance, the Dayaks, which is an ethnic group spread throughout Borneo, are rich in beautiful artworks and intriguing culture.
The soulful sound of sape – Dayak traditional guitar – was resounding at the Huma Betang, a Dayak cultural center during my visit. A group of local musicians were practicing a song for a show at the weekend.
The place is built like a Dayak traditional house, with wide corridors filled with beautiful distinctive Dayak patterns. Visitors can join classes to learn dance, music and other art forms.
3. Spend the afternoon on the esplanade
The Kapuas – publicly recognized, as the longest river in Indonesia – is majestic, calm and relaxing. Taman Alun-Alun Kapuas is the perfect place to blend with locals and enjoy the day.
Come afternoons the esplanade is crowded with rows of food hawkers and later plenty of decent street musicians will serenade visitors with popular songs.
4. Melayu Empire Pilgrimage.
The path of Sultan Syarif Abdurrahman is well recorded in the heritage of the Pontianak Empire.
I visited Batu Layang cemetery, which is known as the resting place of royal ancestors
In the very same place also stands the great cannon of Syarif Abdurrahman, said to be used as the weapon to get rid of ghosts from Pontianak for the very first time before any man landed on its soil.
The cannon is located at the side of the grave area, fenced and protected.
Another interesting spot is Keraton Kadariyah, where you can explore the house of the royal family. Established since 1771, Keraton Kadariyah is filled with many antiques and historical furniture. I was impressed by the lavish jewelry table, the gold throne and the “Pecah Seribu” mirror.
5. Pontianak Zoo – Borneo, one of the world’s largest islands in the world, is home to amazing ecosystem wildlife.
In the 1970s, Pausto Oricciu, an Italian who lived in Pontianak kept many animals illegally. The regional government then seized the animals and kept them in shelters, which were then opened to the public and inaugurated as the public zoo.
Pontianak zoo currently has more than 50 species of animal, with various kinds of habitats.
6. Souvenir shopping at Jl. Patimurra.
The road has become a famous tourist stop, selling handmade and original souvenirs, including fabric, t-shirts, miniatures of the Equator monument and chips, from Pontianak.
Local artists from outside the city also distribute their works to be sold in Jl. Pattimura.
I was attracted to any souvenir that had distinctive Dayak patterns on it.
7. Culinary adventure at Jl. Gajah Mada.
It is quite a legit China Town. Almost 90 percent of the food sold at Jl. Gajah Mada Street used Mandarin names. I was curious enough to queue up and order a plate from several stalls and my Chinese food vocabulary was enriched by names such as Cab Sui Jaw, Ngong Leng Nong, and Kwe Cap