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Itchy Feet "I am going because I would have no peace if I stayed" - Donald Crowhurst.

Car Trouble

INDONESIA | Friday, 1 August 2014 | Views [596]

We landed at Kuala Namu airport in Medan, Sumatra.  Kanu & Retno from the Jungle Lodge in Tangkahan were waiting for us with a handwritten sign: David.

We had booked our first three nights in Indonesia & a driver to get there.  For the rest of our 4 week holiday we’d just wing it and fly by the seat of our pants (pardon the pun).  That’s the way we like to travel.


We began our five hour drive.  It was nice to see Indonesia’s roads & crazy traffic through Dan’s eyes (this is his first time in an Asian country).  We saw the ubiquitous family of five on a moped, the egg man who was carrying about 70 trays of eggs on his motorbike & most impressive of all, we saw two blokes on a motorbike swapping positions (from pillion passenger to driver and vise versa) while doing about 50km/hr.


Unfortunately our car was playing up.  There was a problem with the bearings on the rear left wheel so we had to drive very slowly for a few hours while we pulled into 4 or 5 mechanics to see if they could fix it.  Strangely, the team of mechanics in 2 of the places we stopped were wearing the cleanest, newest, most pristine overalls I had ever seen.  Not even a smudge of grease. It was like a scene from a movie where they’d forgotten to ‘dirty up’ the actor.


We eventually found a mechanic who could fix the car.  So the five of us crossed the road to eat lunch while we waited.  Kanu ordered for everyone, in the small rumah makan.  We all ate fish, chicken, rice, tapioca leaves & jackfruit curry & we all had a coffee.  The bill total was 50,000Rp.  Five Australian dollars!


We all crossed the road again, which in Indonesia is a near death experience every time.  Dave & I actually held hands as cars, trucks, motorbikes & becaks hurtled towards us in both directions.  We laughed nervously as we followed Kanu’s lead & somehow we made it to the other side, without incident.  We walked for a while, perspiring madly in the 32 degrees humidity, bought a few litres of water & soon enough our car was ready & we hit the road again.


Somewhere down the track, all of us needed the loo after drinking so much water.  With no public toilets around, our driver Retno asked the owner of a photo shop if we could all use his toilet.  So we all traipsed through his shop & into his home for some relief, before continuing our journey.  I can’t imagine that happening in Australia.


Finally, after a ten hour adventure that should have been a five hour drive, we juddered over a 10km stoney, pothole ridden road (no wonder there were issues with the bearings) & arrived in the town of Tangkahan.  Our backs were sore from the spinal compressions we suffered in the juddering ride.  We got out of the car & were greeted by a terrifying Indiana Jones type suspension bridge that crossed the river.  We had to walk across it with our luggage to reach our jungle accommodation.  It was about 50 metres long & 15 metres high.  It bounced and jiggled & swayed as we all walked across it with our backpacks.  I discovered when we were about half way across it, that there were some holes in the bridge that we had to step across.  My heart was racing & I felt sure I wouldn’t make it across without teetering over sideways.  I tried to console myself by thinking if I fell it would be ok because I would land in the river.  The only problem was it was the dry season, they hadn’t had rain for 2 months, and the river below us was ankle deep with a rocky river bed.  Oh, and one more problem - there were two women on the bridge walking towards us, carrying large parcels on their heads.  We all had to breathe in, get a firm footing on solid planks of wood and hold onto the vertical support ropes with all our might to let the locals squeeze by us.  I’ve never been so glad to get off a bridge in all my life.


After a five minute walk past smiling locals, some cats, dogs, chickens & roosters & very loud & quite musical cicadas, we arrived perspiring & happy at The Jungle Lodge.  Our room was a little wooden shack, with a shower, a western toilet & a bucket of water & a scoop to flush it with.  There was no sink but we had a hammock & a great view from our verandah of a bend in the river.  The water was crystal clear and on the other side was a dense, wall of jungle.

Tags: bridge, car, indiana jones, traffic



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