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Published: October 10th 2005
After arriving in Lake Maninjau, my guide left me. It was raining and I was damp and alone in a strange land. A motorcycle took me to my homestay (read hostel) - Lillie’s.
I had to weave my way through the rice paddies for about 5 minutes from the road to reach the homestay. Arriving was a surreal experience. A cluster of chalets nestled amongst luscious trees, right against the lake, and there was no one in sight. The cafe was complete with coyboy style swing doors; it all felt like it was some sort of jungle ghost-town. Eventually the attendant woke up, and showed me to my room right on the lake. I suspect I was the only westerner in miles.
I spent the rest of the day in quiet contemplation, writing my journal as solitary locals in dugouts drifted by checking on their nets in the lake. My only company a friendly cat that was quite happy to make itself at home on my lap. I was just happy to have something animate to talk to.
The next day I took up the challenge of cycling round the lake. It was 51-70km depending whose estimates you go by. The
ride was breathtaking. Initially I was escorted by rice paddies either side of me. They faded off into the lake on one side and on the other, straight jungle, rising vertically with the mountains. I past through a number of small villages and was greeted with many a cheerful hello. Various produce was laid on the road to dry in the morning sun, and I pondered the effect of me riding through a sheet of drying rice!
As I finished my ride, four hours later with a very sore arse, I saw a group of travelers who had just finished their trek. One of them then called out "Michael" I don't think my brain even had a chance to process hope bizarre this was. The traveler (Jean-Marie) had visited the same English school as me in Dumai, and recognized me from photos there!!!
That evening a local invited me to have dinner with him and his family. After an amazing meal, we engaged it a fascinating conversation about politics, international relations, religion. He was devoted Muslim, and believes in a Jewish conspiracy behind 9/11, the Bali bombings and the media. However he was very receptive toward what I said and
his heart was definitely in the right place.
Leaving Lake Maninjau was slight nightmare. My lift didn't show, so I caught a ride with a local of his motorbike. Half way up the hill he got a flat tire, and after trying to demand money out of me (I had already paid for petrol), left me there. I began to make my way up the hill on foot, however the monkeys soon began to circle, baring their teeth. Before I could take advantage of this photo opportunity, a taxi arrived, like Tarzan on a vine, whisking me to safety, and probably hideously overcharging me in the process.
Sorry - No photos now, the connection here is abit dodgy. While put some up as soon as possible.
Tot: 1.224s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 8; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0333s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb