Published: July 20th 2012July 14th 2012
Fiona had the best sleep since arriving in Indonesia. Harriet had a great sleep too, but being a teenager wasn't happy at being woken at 8.00am by her parents whispering. Toby unfortunately and ironically due to his comments yesterday, was the only one woken by the call to prayer. The first call is one hour before dawn around 5.30am. All Indonesian hotels have an arrow somewhere, usually on the roof, so that you know which way to pray towards Mecca (Kiblat). This hotel also has a prayer mat - very thoughtful.
At breakfast we were the centre of attention as we were the only white guests- no photo requests, but plenty of whispers and giggles from children. The breakfast was typically Indonesian with plenty of rice, but there were many other choices too including Australian honey.
We set off on foot for town via the tourist office. No-one here walks and minibuses/ local taxis ask you if you want a ride constantly usually by beeping their horn at you.
There was no one at the tourist office but the security guard called someone who arranged to meet with us in half an hour. We decided to have a
drink and come back. We couldn't find a cafe but did find the local market where we spent some time wandering and looking at everything for sale. The market was loads of little lanes with hardly room to walk, but amazingly some people were riding their motorbikes through.
The tourist person turned out to be a guide and rather than offering information he just tried to sell his services. It seemed very expensive and we were hot and bothered so we told him we would call when we had discussed it. We walked to the mall hoping for some AC and a drink. The mall was not quite as modern as the one opposite the hotel and so we found a fast food place next door. This was empty and sold iced tea Padang for dirt cheap so we stayed for a second cup.We all had different ideas of what to do. Eventually Toby shared he wasn't sure what to do if we went alone and got stuck somewhere, but Harriet wisely pointed out that taxis are so cheap we could just get one of them if we were stuck. So we are sticking to the original plan to
head to the a national Park as freedom tourists and to give the tourist office guide a miss. We may have just saved $1000.
More market wandering followed and the we needed a rest so we jumped in a minibus to the mosque. The minibuses are called loads of different names; colt, taxi, bemo, mikrolet and look just like vw combi vans. They seem to travel wherever you want like a taxi, but pick up others along the route. There is a fixed charge which is very cheap. They pack them as full as possible and there is only natural AC.
The mosque is HUGE! We took some photos then sat in the shade by the river to cool down. Another taxi ride, quick drink and bite to eat and we were back at the hotel. Toby was unable to sit still so he headed out for a walk whist Harriet caught up on social media and Fiona researched river trips and monkey sightings. She stumbled across a blog about a guide from Samarinda who was awful and realised we had just met him at the tourist office. We thought this was confirmation enough we had made the
right choice to go alone.
We headed into town to try another Lonely Planet recommended restaurant only to discover it was shut. There were plenty other places to eat and we found some amazing crab.On the walk home a policeman helped us across the road - remember the days when they used to be like that at home? You would have to be pretty old and have a good memory! Everyone in Indonesia is just so friendly. And they love to smile. Perhaps we can do more of that.
There are more photos below