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Published: January 18th 2009
The road that seemed to be lost in the tall maize fields would suddenly open up to vast expanses of brilliant green rice fields, the water reflecting the mountains and clouds surrounding them. Then, mingled amoungst the rice fields, small villages with satellite dishes on all the houses would spring up and as quickly disappear back into the thick farms. Once through the farmlands, the road wound back up and over jungle covered mountains again. Our chariot was a rickety minivan with tape along the windows, roof upholstery bouncing against the tin can exterior with all the bumps and potholes in the road.
In the corners of the van, small blue strobe lights flashed to the beat of the music, the melody completely drowned out by the thud thud of the sub-woofer. So, although we've technically spent hours listening to it, we're still not quite sure what the local music sounds like.
And with all this to distract us, it was still the
most terrifying drive of my life! Our driver would swing the rickety tin can, with seemingly no hesitation, around the tightest turns on the highest peaks of the pass, sometimes coupled with an over-taking manovure! The
The Trans-Sumatran Hightway
It's even tarred in patches!
road at best was partially tarred and only barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other! Boy oh boy was I praying on that car trip!
Thankfully we made it to Kutacane in one piece. We spent the night there, to gather our nerves and some more provisions (chocolates, juice...), and seeing as it had rained every day since we'd posted our raincoats home, we were on the lookout for those too!
Kutacane has just about everything a city needs (although no internet cafe that we could find), while giving the impression that everything is well spaced out and people don't need to climb over each other when making their way down the pavement (sidewalk).
According to our guidebook we needed to organize jungle permits at the park head quarters just outside Kutacane before going into Ketambe. So, backpacked up, we jumped into the next bemo
(local taxi) headed in that direction. We pulled into a taxi rank in search of more passengers. While we were waiting, Darrell noticed a man making pancakes... ooh breakfast!! Too bad they were filled with a mince meat, chillie mix... no... wait... back rice and could it be... coconut
It was! YAY! (Black rice is sweeter and softer than the regular rice and is used in puddings in Indonesia) In a flash Darrell was back with 2! The black rice mixed with coconut and a bit of sugar, fried in a pancake (oh how my mouth waters at the thought) makes your tastebuds want to dance! We should have ordered 2 each 😊
We were dropped off just outside the park HQ office and were lead into a well furnished office with 2 large photos of the head rangers (I think) on the wall. We explained to the friendly officer that we'd heard that we needed to organise permits before we could go into the jungle. "Yes, yes" he said, "let me tell you a bit about the park". He sat us down and gave us each a cup of water and proceeded to tell us about all the different animals we might or might not see. He handed us another brochure explaining all the flora and looked at us expectantly, so we, obliging but impatient to get going, read the pamphlet. All the while he started setting up his laptop and when he was ready, called us
Salak / Snakefruit
Delicious, crab-appleish and covered in snake skin
over and started showing us some of the photos and video clips of the jungle.
Fortunately, about 5min in to a native dance (and the little green bar below the video had barely moved) the dancers stalled and Darrell used the pooprtunity again to ask about getting the permits. "Oh no" he said, " you don't get that here, we're just here to give you information!"
So... After our frustrating delay, we made it to kethembe at 10:30 - somewhat later than planned. Still, even with the later start, we managed to sort out our permits, organise a guide and get into the jungle by 11.
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