Pontianak, capital of West Kalimantan in Indonesia is the only city in the world that can claim to straddle the Northern and Southern hemispheres thanks to its position on the Equator. This curiously named city will become AirAsia’s 10th route from Kuching when direct flights start on 5th June 2017.
Why visit Pontianak?
Apart from business and trading links, travellers visit Pontianak for a number of cultural events associated with the various communities who have made their home in and around the city. The cultural diversity is similar to that seen in Kuching, capital of Sarawak and the celebrations have much in common.
- Chinese celebrations and events include the Lunar New Year in January/Frebruary, culminating in Chap Goh Meh on the fifteenth day of the lunar calendar. Families also return for the annual grave sweeping festival Cheng Beng, in late March/early April.
- Muslims celebrate Aidul Fitri, Aidul Adha and Maulidur Rasul. Based on an advancing lunar calendar, the dates move earlier by about ten days each year.
- Also in common with their fellow Dayaks throughout the rest of Borneo, the Dayak People celebrate the Harvest festival, Gawai Dayak in the middle of the year.
Visitors can enjoy the colourful parades around the city.
The other big attraction is the biannual equinox festivities where you can experience a shadowless moment twice a year. You’ll need to be there specifically between 21st and 23rd March or 21st to 23rd September. Visit the city’s Equator Monument and when the sun is exactly overhead at 0° at noon, you’ll see the shadow of the Monument and everything nearby disappear for a few seconds.
Pontianak was founded by Syarif Abdurrahman Alkadrie in the latter part of the 18th Century. Long reputed to be a home for ghosts, he overcame the spectral beings with the help of his army and settled down. His palace and a mosque were the city’s first buildings.
The city takes its name from the pontianak, long part of Malay and Indonesian folklore. These female ghosts are said to be the spirits of women who died during pregnancy. They target men and helpless people. They are commonly depicted as being fair skinned and beautiful with black hair and red eyes, dressed in white, smeared with blood.
You should be safe as long as you don’t wander in lonely places at night. Pontianaks are said to live in banana plants during the day venturing out after dark. Legend has it that the first sultan was haunted by a pontianak.
As with much of South East Asia with a diverse cultural makeup, you’ll find plenty of culinary attractions, with a good mix of Malay and Indonesian food available. Cultural diversity makes Pontianak food a culinary paradise, as does the local produce. Enjoy the special Pontianak drink that mixes aloe vera with syrup and take home shop for popular aloe vera products. Check out the floating restaurants on the Kapuas River and enjoy the wide variety of seafood available.
Special Introductory fares
Travel from Kuching to Pontianak with all-in, one-way fares available from MYR 89, on sale until 2nd April 2017 for travel from 5th June to 30th September 2017. Fares are inclusive of taxes. AirAsia BIG members who book during the promotion period can also earn double (2X) AirAsia BIG Points on the base fare. Bookings may be made at airasia.com or by using the AirAsia mobile app on the iPhone or Android devices.
AirAsia currently flies to nine destinations from Kuching with a total of 438 weekly flights both ways. The destinations are Miri, Sibu, Bintulu, Kota Kinabalu, Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Aside from Kuching, AirAsia has also operated direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Pontianak since 2015.
Flight Schedule for Kuching (KCH) – Pontianak, Indonesia (PNK)
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*** All times are local. Pontianak time is hour behind Kuching time.