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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Bukittinggi to Palembang

INDONESIA | Sunday, 12 October 2014 | Views [804]

The Sumatran journey continues! Last night I stayed in Bukittinggi, a town in the Sumatran highlands with a much cooler air than the lowlands. That made the stay rather pleasant. In Bukittinggi there's a few sights of interest including a few Norfolk Island pines and Jam Gadang, a clock tower. 

"Jam" means "hour" in Bahasa so it's funny when you see a sign with "24 hour jam" since it sounds like a disco. There's of course the cool highland air and also a varied market. Some women in hijab are photogenic:

In four days in Indonesia I saw my first foreigners: a couple of Dutch guys. After a full-on Indonesian experience I noticed a Pizza Hut and KFC; I noticed a prayer room inside the Pizza Hut when I went to use the toilet. Most toilets in Indonesia are the squat variety but at the chain restaurants there are real toilets. A young man whom I met yesterday said he'd pick me up at 8 AM to take me to the bus terminal. He never showed up and I set my phone alarm for 7 PM instead of 7 AM. My saving grace is that I asked the girl at the desk to tap on my door at 7 AM. After taking a red minibus (and watching my belongings) I was at the bus terminal yet I wasn't sure where I was for a minute. A cup of tea sounded great before the long 20-hour journey but I have to ask for the sugar on the side. If I get coffee I have to ask for the grounds on the side as well; as in many other places, Indonesians love their sugar and make everything far too sweet. The bus has air conditioning and a toilet but it's not the kind of toilet you want to use whilst the bus is moving. For the past few days I've been complaining about Indonesia but I started to see a bit of beauty as we began the drive south. Two hours into our drive I tried some Indonesian street fare. Rice cakes and this vegetable pastry that looks like a corn nugget were tasty. Some locals working the cafe enjoyed photos including some with me.

A man with his two children (or grandchildren) posed for me:

See, Indonesia does have some bright spots. Unlike many other places it's not that difficult to find veggie street food here. The past few days I've been practicing not eating a lot; yesterday I didn't have any solid food. Afterward we passed some of the rice terraces that are synonymous with Indonesia. It was difficult to get photos but at least I could appreciate some of the beauty of the world's largest archipelago. The pollution on Sumatra is so bad that the sun glows with a sad-looking orange with no rays. I haven't seen a blue sky in over a week and there's been no rain to settle any of the pollution or dust. The bus clearly states "no smoking" yet people (including the driver) were smoking. Literally I'm choking on forest smoke and cigarette smoke. Even worse is that when someone opens the toilet on the bus there's a major stench of urine. At around 1 AM we stopped for a breather. Ahhhh, I needed some fresh air (though they're almost dirty words on Sumatra). The only charity boxes at the bus station are for the construction of mosques. How is it that people could have and raise money for mosques and mobile phones yet there's no money to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking, promote a healthy diet, or provide adequate sanitation and rubbish disposal. Indonesia really could be a case study for disaster! As much as I'm trying to enjoy it, I have seen a touch of beauty but for now I'm trying to get to Bali as fast as possible! The bus is going through the night, and we shall be in Palembang in the morning.

 

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