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

Ticket out of Hell

INDONESIA | Monday, 13 October 2014 | Views [554]

This isn't a romantic morning mist, but a thick, noxious smog

This isn't a romantic morning mist, but a thick, noxious smog

As the bus converged upon Palembang I could immediately see how bad the smog is; worse than any place I've ever been! My immediate thought is "get me the hell out of this shithole" and I wasn't off the bus yet! A CSer accepted my request but there'd be no way I was staying in Palembang. Stepping off the bus I could taste the sour air in the back of my throat. Of course I was sent on a wild goose chase trying to find where I can buy a bus ticket out of hell. Taking an ojek about 500 metres the driver wanted about 20,000 rupiah but I barely had enough for a bus ticket. It was there I some truly genuine Indonesians: a couple named Varian and Fryuger.

Varian & Fryuger

They both speak fairly decent English and agree that Indonesia has a large amount of problems across the board. Fryuger even laughed when I said the term "dollars on legs" referring to how many Indonesians look at me. Varian told me that it's better to visit Indonesia during the wet season. It's lusher and the air is less polluted. Other than a light sprinkling of rain in Bukittinggi last night I haven't seen a drop of rain in over a week. Varian and Fryuger cooked me an Indonesian breakfast of rice, eggs, and chicken and made me a few cups of tea. Since I only had 250,000 rupiah they were nice enough to give me a discount on the bus ticket (normally it's 300,000 rupiah). I'm determined to not visit another ATM until I get to Jakarta. There's wifi at the outdoor bus terminal and cafe so I was able to while away what time I had in the thick smoke until the bus came. I was informed that if not enough passengers showed up the bus would leave at 6 PM, so I was hoping for enough people to show up. Thankfully the bus showed up and departed at noon. Varian and Fryuger wanted a photo with me, and they also assured there'd be no smoking on the bus. Furthermore they instructed the local next to me on where to go when we reach the ferry and when we reach Jakarta and to watch my belongings at both points. No smoking on the bus ("dilarang merokok" in Bahasa) is a good thing as smoke of all sorts (cigarette, forest, rubbish, factory, etc.) have tarnished my lungs, and I can feel how difficult it is to breathe at times. The sun can be gazed at without hurting your eyes and there are no rays. But why? The sun is supposed to damage your eyes when you stare at it? The pollution is so bad it literally blots out much of the sun. The bus ride would be another very long one. As we drove south I noticed that all of the mosques are on the right-hand side of the road. Rumour has it that all mosques are positioned so that during prayer, Muslims are facing Mecca. I've even observed a sprinkling of churches here in Sumatra, so there's a sort of religious freedom here. The bus would take 14 hours just to reach the ferry, even though I thought it was 14 hours to Jakarta. The police boarded the bus asking for my passport, likely since I'm the oddity of the only foreigner on the bus. The ferry was much like everything else I've seen so far in Indonesia: filthy with rubbish strewn about with people pissing on the decks and chucking their plastic bottles into the sea. These girls on the ferry wanted some photos with me. The few Indonesians I've met who don't ask for money want a photo with me, which I'm OK with. Ahh, I feel so glad to be out of Sumatra! Would Java be different? I'd have to see for myself. It was already well past 4 AM and I wanted to get back on the bus and go to sleep. The vehicle deck smelled so bad you'd swear there are rotting human corpses laying around. Back on the bus I passed out straight away, and when I woke up we were in Jakarta. There's Starbucks, Burger King, Mercedes-Benzes and glittering shopping malls but the pollution and strewn rubbish is nearly just as bad. I'm glad I'm out of hell now, and it was every bit I expected it to be! 

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