First problems with uniform

Today we headed north from Malinau to Sebuku, which is in the far north of Kalimantan.

Although I have been this way before, I had no idea there was an army control point. We just blundered through and were soon intercepted by an army dude on a trail bike.

We went back to the army facility and explained our business, as well as presenting our documents. And our docs were pretty thorough – letter from the Indo embassy confirming our plans, carnet, and the jewel – a letter from the regional police office confirming our right to travel.

I can’t complain about treatment from the army: they were polite and hospitable, providing lunch for us. But I am still unclear about why we weren’t sent on our way as soon as they had sighted our documents.

Instead, we had to wait for 2 hours while the friend that we were visiting was contacted. I don’t know what would have happened if I wad not visiting anybody in particular.

Anyway the commander eventually let us continue with an escort to Sebuku, into the authority of the local police. They were even less impressed with our documents and subjected us to an interrogation.

I can’t say all of the police there agreed with this approach but it was obviously with approval of the commander. He did not speak English so engaged the services of a person that I assumed to be a civilian translator (none of them gave their names or titles).

The translator assumed the role of interrogator and demanded the contact details of people we were planning to visit. The commander stated via translation that we should not be travelling in Indonesia without being able to speak the language.

He also made a number of completely unprofessional remarks about Suzie after reading her passport.

To top it off, the police had a little conference among themselves and announced we would have to pay IDR 4.5 million to get a boat to Nunukan. It cost me IDR 600k last time.

We decided to tough it out and told them our friend was arranging a cheaper boat, which was true.

We booked into a home stay and went for an evening stroll. Imagine our surprise – a boat had just docked and was unloading 50 students for a month of community work, and 5 motorcycles. And the captain was happy to get a back load to Nunukan for IDR 400k, on what was otherwise going to be an empty boat.

We hastily retrieved the Tiger from the police station and arranged some local help to manhandle it onto the boat. Ans we set off downriver at dusk. So the situation was not as profitable for some as they may have expected.

I won’t be going back to Sebuku again and I strongly advise Western travellers against going there.

Bike loaded up and ready for an evening cruise down the river to Nunukan.

Bike loaded up and ready for an evening cruise down the river to Nunukan.

Bike loaded up and ready for an evening cruise down the river to Nunukan.

Boat carries about 50 max, but we were the only passengers on this midnight cruise.

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