Whew! Time does fly! So many things have happened since our latest email. We had left Jean arriving in Kuching, capital city of Sarawak where the “wwwalk” is ending in this country in company of Jacky, one among all the enthusiastic and dedicated angels of Eastern Malaysia. Jean truly is delighted to have made the decision to walk the island of Borneo and before he is to fly to Singapore, he calculates the kilometers he has done and realizes that he has walked more than 60 000 km, that he is in the 58th country and has completed 80% of his journey.
On July 20, Jean flies to Singapore where after collecting his luggage he headed toward the beach for a bit of camping during his first night in this country. Two days later, the very friendly Canadian Community of Singapore meets early in the morning for a hearty walk at the Singapore Botanic Garden welcoming the walker. The Honorable Stockwell Day,
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, happening to be in the city for business joined them for a few footsteps and Jean is honored to make his acquaintance.
For the two following days, Evelyn Loo and Guy Bélanger are happy to host Jean in their home and their gorgeous children are eager to liberate one of their bedrooms so Jean can have a bed to sleep in! Many thanks to the Canadian Community who by their generosity have enabled Jean to purchase new shoes. It truly was a priority as shoes to Jean’s size are rare in Asia and he was wearing his very last pair…
On the island of Java, in Indonesia, another priority comes about: the need to contact the Canadian Embassy to renew his passport. After the one done in Cairo in Egypt, this is the second renewal since his going away in 2000.
Upon his arrival at Jakarta airport, Jean boards a bus heading to Merak, a town situated on the Northern tip of the island where he begins his walk. Five days later, on the 29, he is back in Jakarta where he is warmly welcomed by people at the Embassy of Canada with whom is organized a little speech on his walk and on peace in the world. In that big city, he is delighted to meet the “Biciclown”, Alvaro Neil who travels around the world on a bike while performing his excellent and very professional “clown show” for humanitarian causes. The two travelers had previously met in South America in 2002… I maintain that we live in a small world!!!
The people of Indonesia are curious and are showing great interest for the wwwalk and Jean is welcomed everywhere with great cordiality. I get enthusiastic emails that inform me of the path of the walker with supporting photos.
The wwwalk is progressing rapidly in this tropical and human warmth because Jean plans to walk the whole island of Java before his Indonesian visa expires and he has to leave the country.
On August 18, in Semarang, while Jean is celebrating his 54th birthday and the 9th of his walk, he is deeply saddened by the death of Mr. Kim Dae Jong whom he had met only a year earlier, on August 28, 2008 in Seoul, South Korea. On the same day, he returns to Jakarta by train to take delivery of his brand new passport and on the 20th, he is back in
Semarang where he is again welcomed by Lily and Hendra as well as their 3 children. The activities are not lacking… a chat on his traveling and peace in a local school; begin planning for his airline tickets for East Timor etc…
All our gratitude goes to our friends all over the world who have sent their good wishes to the walker for his birthday and to Francisca who organized a small congenial surprise-party with friends of the Canadian Embassy in Jakarta and PSKD Mandiri Highschool.
Jean is eagerly awaited in Surabaya from where he receives several emails of invitation and it is finally Willy Sutanto who coordinates the activities in this city. Further proof that the world is small: Willy studied in Montréal universities between 1978 and 1983 and another friend, Arnold, currently on holiday in his native country, is studying at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Jean feels that he is among family members!!!
In Surabaya, Jean gets his plane ticket to fly from Denpasar to Dili in East Timor. For sure he will not have time to walk all the way to Denpasar but he is determined to cover the island of Java in all its length. So, once more it is a race against the clock!
Willy accompanies him on the last leg of the walk in Indonesia that leads them to Ketapang on September 7. From there, Jean boards the bus that will bring him to Denpasar on Bali island, this paradise for tourists and he soon leaves for Dili on Wednesday, September 9.
A short visit to the Australian Embassy in Dilli to collect the necessary documents pertaining to his visa and Jean is off again on his walk to the west end of the country. He is back in Dili after four days. As Australia is a huge country, Jean decide to apply for a 1-year visa and we need to gather several specific statements required for that kind of visa.
After completing the application forms Jean continues his journey from Dili to the extreme east of the island. East Timor is a new country that gained its full independence in 2002. Jean tells me that there are several UN vehicles all over the place and that many foreigners are working to help build the country. The tropical landscape is picturesque.
Back in Dili on September 28, Jean and I convey the missing documents for his Australian file and while waiting, Jean takes the opportunity to transfer his many photos on DVD that he will then send to me by airmail. He also does a thorough cleaning of his chariot and of all his earthly possessions as this is formally required to enter the country of
Skippy the bush kangaroo.
On October 3 he writes: “I am utterly ready! I am done with washing my chariot and take stock of my things. I have never done such a thorough cleaning of my small “mobile home” before. As for myself, I have accumulated enough energy to be on the go. Everything is now quite ready for the great Australian adventure” and on the 5th: “I just got a
positive phone call from for my visa. Hurray! Tomorrow morning I will get my passport and immediately buy my airplane ticket.”
On October 7 at 8h. AM, Jean flies from Dili to Darwin where will begin his great Australian trek.
We sincerely sympathize with our friends who suffer with disasters, calamities and upheavals of our earth… typhoons, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis etc. I am specifically thinking of the typhoon that hit Taiwan last August 8 and cataclysms that rocked the Philippines and Indonesia recently.
Till the next time…