The Beauty of the City Around the Equator

The Scenery in the Foreground of the Equator Monument, Pontianak, West Kalimantan.

West Kalimantan is known as the city of the equator. This nickname is not without reason, as the province is indeed crossed by the equator.

As a reminder for any visitors crossing the equator in West Kalimantan, a monument was built in Siantan, near the city of Pontianak, not far from the Batulayang intercity bus terminal.

Never miss stopping at the equator monument

Both foreign and domestic tourists visiting West Kalimantan never miss stopping at the equator monument. Besides the equator monument itself, which features the unique culture of West Kalimantan, there are many crafts and goods available around this monument. You can find baskets, wickerwork, rattan mats, machetes, shields, traditional Malay food, and woven cloth.

The equator monument signifies that Pontianak is crossed by the equator. It was built in 1928 by a Dutchman who loved geography. Ten years later, in 1938, the monument was renovated by a famous architect named Silaban. In 1990, a replica of the original monument, five times larger, was built and inaugurated on September 21, 1991.

Every year, from March 21-23 and September 21-23, at noon, the sun crosses the equator (culmination). During this time, the sun casts no shadow around the equator monument, as the shadow is directly beneath the object.

Although roads and infrastructure have improved significantly since the 1980s, transportation in West Kalimantan was primarily conducted via river routes. The Kapuas River, one of the longest rivers in Indonesia (1,143 km), has been a vital transportation and communication route in West Kalimantan.

Many tourists prefer traveling by river, experiencing the journey from Pontianak to Kapuas Hulu regency, Sintang, Sanggau Kapuas, and Ketapang by speedboat or water bus. Along the riverbanks, you can see picturesque scenes of homes on the water, restaurants, markets, and topekongs (places of worship for the Chinese ethnic community), as many Chinese settlers live in this area.

If you travel by water bus, passengers are provided with snacks, lunch or dinner, and entertainment such as karaoke and video playback. This makes the long journey enjoyable and less monotonous.

Enjoy the stunning Violates Waterfall, not far from the confluence of the Urchin River and the Kapuas River. This gigantic waterfall is 100 meters wide and 80 meters tall. Currently, this tourist attraction can only be reached by water.

Another nearby waterfall is Mananggar Waterfall, located in a unique subdistrict because it consists of seven levels. The water flow from one level to another varies, with less water at higher levels. Unfortunately, this waterfall is not yet professionally managed and remains in its natural state.

The longhouse

Cultural treasures and other tourist attractions include the longhouse (Rumah Panjang) typical of the Dayak tribe, the indigenous people of Kalimantan. With modernization, longhouses are now increasingly rare. Replicas of this traditional house can be seen on Jalan Sutoyo, Pontianak.

However, original longhouses can be found in the village of Saham, Sengah Temila district, Pontianak Regency. The longhouse is 310 meters long and 8 meters wide, currently housing 32 families. It is not difficult to reach this location, as public transportation passes through Pahauman, the district capital. From Pontianak, it is about 135 km away.

Many foreign tourists prefer to visit and enjoy the old longhouse in Koya Pontianak, which is still an authentic belian wood structure, rather than the new, modern Radakng house.

Another longhouse is located in Kampung Kopar, Parindu subdistrict, Sanggau Kapuas district, 242 km from Pontianak. If you plan to travel to Kuching, Malaysia, or at least to the Sarawak border, try staying in Kopar village.

From there, you can continue to Entikong, the entrance to Sarawak, Malaysia. This is one of the few Indonesian provinces, besides Papua, that directly borders a neighboring country. The distance from Pontianak is 314 km, and it can be reached by ground transportation. The location is easily accessible, with a Pontianak-Kuching bus ride taking about 7 hours. Many tourists from neighboring countries like Brunei and Malaysia are found at the border.

Do not miss the northern coastal areas. Travel the routes of Mempawah, Singkawang, Pemangkat, and Sambas. You will see a typical West Kalimantan scene of harmonious and peaceful coexistence among the three tribes: Dayak, Malay, and Chinese.

Pasir Panjang Beach

One interesting tourist beach is Pasir Panjang Beach. Located next to the Pontianak-Singkawang highway, the beach is always filled with visitors. Its long stretch of sand has led to the establishment of various entertainment centers, children’s play areas, cottages, and at certain times, the beach is even used for motorcycle racing (motocross). Not far from here, there are other tourist attractions on Temajo Island, which can be reached by speedboat.

From here, move further north towards Sambas district. Although the capital of Sambas regency is Singkawang, known as the "City of Thousand Temples" due to its 60% Chinese population, Sambas (from the Chinese phrase meaning “three tribes”) reflects the harmonious background of this area. The district produces citrus fruits locally known as "Pontianak oranges." Along the Sambas-Singkawang road, you will see orange orchards. During the season, you can stop by the orchards, where landowners allow you to eat as many citrus fruits as you want without paying.

In Sambas, many markets, restaurants, and houses are built on the water. While enjoying fresh seafood dishes, you can also savor the beautiful views around you. A historical tourist attraction in Sambas, 225 km from Pontianak, is the Sambas Palace, popularly called "Alwatzikhoebillah." The Kingdom of Sambas had direct diplomatic relations with China, Britain, and the Netherlands during its heyday.

A unique tourist spot in West Kalimantan, always worth a visit, is the Gunung Palung National Park. Located in Ketapang District, between Sukadana and Teluk Melano subdistricts, the national park spans 90,000 hectares and holds a variety of Indonesian natural resources, both flora and fauna.

The park’s rich fauna includes orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), hornbills (Bucerotidae), deer (Tragulus), and monitor lizards (Varanus borneensis). Its flora includes Ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri), Ramin (Gonystylus bancanus), and mangroves (Rhizophora).

With improved road access to Kuching, West Kalimantan has grown into a province that makes tourism a key industry. The region generates significant revenue from foreign tourists, particularly from neighboring countries like Brunei and Malaysia.

However, as with any tourism development, there are potential negative impacts such as increased crime and other social issues. It is important for the government and all stakeholders to anticipate and address these challenges early on.

-- Rangkaya Bada

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