Published: December 16th 2011November 14th 2011
At last, we are in Sumatra, where I have been looking forward to being for around a year. It is absolutely lovely here in the Bukittinggi in the mountains. The bus journey:
We got here in one piece, appart from a bruise on my shoulder. The bus ride was extremely bumpy and the driver swerved and swung in any possible attempt to overtake just about anything in front of him. And, if something approached from the other direction, during the overtake atempt, he would swing wildly back behind the vehicle he tried to over take. Sometimes he just missed crashing head on, by a couple of seconds. At least' there were no break downs. One of the engines of the boat failed, on the way over the strait, and there were a number of causalty vehicles on the roadside, missing wheeles etc, with their driver sitting beside them, waiting for I don't know what or for how long.
After midnight, we got tired and slept despite everything. Everything, being the ear drum destroying music that played all night, and the bus kept hurling us against the side of itself or the seat in front of us, everytime the driver swerved. I made a ball of my shirt to protect my head, and tried to wedged myself tightly so my head wouldn't accidently be bashed when I fell asleep. I managed to get some sleep, and protect my head quite well, but there is a bruise on my shoulder because I did not have enough shirt to wedge between it and the bus wall. Lydia didn't get too tossed around, because she was between me and the soft back of the seat.
The bus stopped 5 times during the night, and all passengers got out to continue their Ramadan feast. The first stop was at 7PM, and the last at 3AM. Triedness did not seem to hinder their food consumption.
When we arrived in Bukittinggi at 4AM. Lydia was able to have dinner and I was able to have coffee, in a restaurant that was open. It closed at 6AM for the day, so we trailed through the streets to our guesthouse with a crowd of teens, who helped us find the guesthouse, and their teacher helped us help them with phone instructions. When we got to the guesthouse, all 10 of them shook hands with each of us and welcomed us to Indonesia, after finding the guesthouse guy and informing him that they had brought his guests to him. The boat journey:
The water was dark green in colour with warm misty air above it, with some large yellow jellyfish in it and now and again a dead fish. The temperatured were sweltering, despite there was little blue to be seen in the sky. It was mostly grey and white above the mist.
The harbour was an oil industry eyesore of destroyed jungle, with smoking chimneys and other oil ugly structures. The pipelines extended along a lot of the road side of our journey, but only succeeded in making the first few KM hidiously and depressingly ugly. They barely interruped the beauty of the rest of the trip of jungle, wooden houses. Dirk Jan
As I was in Nijmegen anyway, I went to visit a few people I know (in fact, the last ones I know in Nijmegen) and spent the evening having some beers with Gert-Jan (who is doing well, I'll tell you about some other time) before catching the last bus to Grave. Mel
Today, I took Lydia to a swiming pool. I was really pissed off when she announced immediately after my paying, ordering coffee, and her changing into her bathing suit, that she will not swim in this pool because there are dead insects floating in it. The pool was a special treat for her, because it is not quite warm enough for me to want to swim here. But, she soon got distracted with rescuing a big dragon fly that had just flown in the pool. The she proceeded to entertain herself for an hour with cleaning the pool with a net that was lying at the side. After that, she decided the pool is bug free enough for her to get in it. She splashed around and recleaned the pool for the next few hours, while I read, drank coffee and listened to the various creatures(birds, insects...) squeaking, screeching, shuffling... in the jungle vegetation around.
Tomorrow, we will go to see the worlds biggest flower, with a guy who comes to the guesthouse every morning to try to sell the tourists any experience they would be willing to pay for. He is loaning me his hiking boots, because we will need to walk through the jungle for an hour. I don't like trekking, but I do want to see the flower, so will put up with a couple of hours of it. He said, he can also provide boots for Lydia. He was complaining to us about a farmer who cut down one of the flowers last month, because they are smelly. I suppose, the farmer didn't realise what a money spinner those flowers are. Dirk Jan
Those flowers smell of decay, I heard, to attract the flies.
I'm hopping on the train tomorrow (friday) after spending the evening with Gert-Jan, I will crash at his place, which is conveniently next to the train station.