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Published: December 24th 2017
I haven't written in a while, but patience is a virtue (that's for you, reader, because laziness isn't a virtue and it's probably what kept me from writing!).
Our flight from Bali to Sumatra had been amended (takeoff at 3pm instead of 9am) which meant that instead of arriving around midday, with plenty of time to travel the 3 hours from the airport in Medan to our guesthouse in Bukit Lawang, we would arrive in the evening. Once at the airport in Bali, we also found out that the plane was going to land on Java (an island between Bali and Sumatra, where Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, stands) for 45 minutes as passengers would be getting on.
We were unlucky, a big storm was sweeping through Java at the same time than our flight... Which meant that our plane couldn't land safely and it had to go round in circles for at least half an hour before landing...
By the time we landed in Medan, Sumatra, it was 8pm. The taxi drivers told us it was too late for them to drive to our hotel in Bukit Lawang. So we tried Uber and Grab and finally, after an hour of
struggling, a driver from Grab accepted to take us. He came walking to pick us up and asked us to follow him. He led us through the car park, to a very dark spot where several men told us to cancel our Grab order and pay them 500 thousand to get where we wanted to go - when it would have been 350 thousand through the Grab app.
We didn't hesitate and turned around. By this point, I was annoyed and frustrated. We sat on the floor, messaged our guesthouse in Bukit Lawang to say we wouldn't be able to make it and booked another accommodation near the airport. We took a taxi there, it was not a very nice place but we were exhausted so didn't care much.
On the next morning, we had arranged with our guesthouse in Bukit Lawang to get picked up from near the airport at 12. We waited for the taxi for 2 hours, while our host was playing guitar and I was singing along.
After an hour drive in the taxi, the car stopped for about an hour. After that, we were told to change cars and ended up in the back
View of Lake Toba
From Samosir Island
of a 6-seater car with no room for our legs and bags poking our backs.
It was a horrible journey, which took 5 hours instead of 3 - and we lost two hours as the taxi was very late. We also learnt that the other people in the car paid half the price we had been asked to pay.
When we arrived in Bukit Lawang, it was almost 8pm and it was pouring. We were very angry and refused to pay for the taxi.
We had dinner, went to bed and the next morning we went for a 3-hours jungle trek. The guide wasn't very good, he kept stopping and asking us to wait while he would check places for orangutan and smoke. After a while, he told us we wouldn't be able to see anything in 3 hours but we could go the long way and walk for 6 or 7 hours. He said the price would be the same but we didn't have enough water and had absolutely no food so we refused his offer.
On our way back, as we had lost hope of seeing an orangutan, a young female orangutan appeared. It was magical! We
stayed there for several minutes, taking in the moment (and pictures!). Bukit Lawang is one of the only places where wild orangutans can be observed in their natural habitat. We were very lucky!
We came back, had lunch, and fell asleep after a cold shower. The trek had lasted for more than four hours in intense heat and humidity and it had included quite a lot of climbing!
On the next day, we left for our next destination, Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world. It was a long 10-hour journey and we arrived at night.
We are staying for 7 days there, which means a lot of time to relax! We are staying in Tuk-tuk, a small village with lots of guesthouses and restaurants.
I have been sick for the first 4 days there but Shaun has enjoyed long rides on a scooter. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner (I had rice, rice and rice) almost always at the same place, Today's cafe, where the young ladies owners are very nice.
On Shaun's birthday, we had dinner with a couple from Alaska we met in our guesthouse, Rachel and Bobby, who paid for our beers and with whom we had a very nice evening.
We are hoping to have a nice Christmas, it's going to be very quiet and to ourselves!
We take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas too!
JOYEUX NOËL À TOUS!!
Update on 27/12/2017: After a very quiet Christmas, we travelled back to the airport on Boxing Day, which took us several hours and after a few hours in the hostel where we couldn't sleep as it was very loud, we left at 5am for the airport. Destination: Phnom Peng, capital of Cambodia!
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