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Reisverslag Sumatra: An untouched paradise.
29 september 2016
Sumatra: An untouched paradise.
After being with my lovely friend Miriam for over a month, I was on my own again. I started my 15 days on Sumatra with way to much confidence by barging for a taxi and waiting for 15min to get my price. I can do this! (Didn’t even have to do it, Sumatra prices are mostly fair, not that touristy). My private ride went over rough roads and through poor villages, it was beautiful. It brought me to my hostel just on the edge of the city. It was a small family hostel where 3 little kids welcomed me with a drink and a cookie. There were only three rooms and they were amazing. The only thing I didn’t really like, was the mosque right next to my window, when they were praying it sounded like someone had put a boom box next to my ear, lovely.. But ok, they only pray every few hours and in the morning at 5am, nice. When I checked in, the lady looked at my funny already: ‘ You booked for 2 nights?’ I thought I needed some time to relax and get things sorted out, but when I discovered the city, I understood her reaction. It’s an huge and overcrowded city. There are only bikes, cars, shops, more cars and bikes and a lot of people, nothing else. I discovered this the first day with a German (2.07m!!) guy and had a lot of fun because he attracted so much attention. That evening he left and I met a Dutch girl. We could get along really well and went out for a bite to eat, unfortunately she left a day before I did.
I never book anything when I go to a country, I love to follow advice and pictures/books, so the same for Sumatra. The lovely lady of the hostel booked me my first days to the jungle with the Orangoetangs and advised me to go to the west coast and lake Toba. The next morning I left with my private ride towards the jungle, not knowing that this little place would be in my heart forever.
I arrived after 4 hours, 2 hours to get out of the city!! And 2 hours of being tossed around in the car like a bouncing ball. In the car I thought to myself that I didn’t even write anything down and my driver couldn’t speak English, so I hoped he knew where I was going to sleep that night. But nothing to worry about, I got picked up from my car and welcomed with banana pancakes (love it!!). The owner explained me everything that was planned and showed me my amazing room. The room was a bit higher in the village and huge! Enough space to ice-skate in it (what we would say). It had an huge king-size bed, a private bathroom and a little view over the town and the river (for only 10dollars/7 euro’s!!). I decided that afternoon to go for my stroll through the town to explore a bit. I loved it that the kids were having so much fun tubing down the river, there were little shops and a huge wobbly bridge with wholes to cross the river. It immediately felt right, I love Bukitlawang. When I was trying to cross the river back over a smaller bridge, I saw a few guys sitting along the river in front of a bar. They waved at me and signed to sit down with them, why not? I’m alone anyway. The best decision.. The guys were around my age and we could get along straight away. After a chat they offered me to show me around. I got on the back of a motorbike and went to a river, to a cave and the town carnival. The carnival was quite the same as ours, but the ring tossing was around cola bottles, there was a big round bench where you could sit on and it turned around and up and down, but the main attraction was a big wooden attraction for motor stunts. We climbed a ladder and got on top of kind of a wooden bowl. The guy on the motor ran the motor across the walls (everything handmade), and because of the speed, it got totally vertical! But that was not it, after a while he didn’t even use his hands or his feed anymore!!! And that for a few dollars, that he grabbed from our hands while he was riding. That was so amazing and unforgettable!! That evening, after dinner, I went back to the guys, they invited me to listen to some music, again: I loved it. All the guys can play guitar or drums, can sing or make music with whatever there is in hand reach and offcourse it sounded amazing.
The next day it was time for my jungle tour. There were 2 guides, a Spanish couple and me (offcourse I end up with a couple just when I got single). After not even a 10min walk we saw some Thomas monkeys swinging around in the trees, this was the start of a sick journey.. Unfortunately, just after seeing the monkeys, it started raining. We got shelter in a little wooden hut with an family of 3 kids, 10 chickens, 1 dog, 3 cats and 5 ducks (I loved it). The rain didn’t stop for a while and we were unlucky to experience the rare rain after the rain season. But after rain comes sunshine! The next monkey was a baboon and in the distance a orangoetang with child! But not even 5min. Later we saw a huge orangoetang male. My guide let me get so close that I made the most amazing pictures. Ok, this tour couldn’t get even better, let’s head back.. but it did! After a nice hike with lots of going up and down through the toughest paths, we saw even more Thomas monkeys and little animals. Later in the evening we arrived at our first camp: A few tents along the river. We ate the best and fresh meals, had a little swim and a cup of tea. On that day I met Hanna, a Swiss girl, she was alone and seeking for some company. We had a nice chat and decided to meet again after the tour, after that she even travelled with me through whole Sumatra, but OK, first more jungle stories.
The next day we left after some more amazing and fresh banana cakes. The hike went through a river, up and down more hills and along the area where Mina stayed. She was the dangerous orangoetang. But that day she ate enough and was easy to look at, just like her 2 sons. Not that far after that we saw Toucans and Gibbons! The gibbons were the only monkeys we didn’t see yet. They were on the middle of the road and we could even feed them! The mom had a little gibbon on her lap and the dad was swinging around behind her, one word: amazing. Only one wish left: to see Jacky. Jacky was apparently the friendly orangoetang. She was so familiar with people, that you could even kiss her. But after hours of walking, still no Jacky, so off to the last camp. And there we got lucky again. Jacky was right at the camp, trying to get food from all the tourists. I got perfects shots of her and her 2 kids swinging around. My guide got my arm and put me right next to her and her kid on the rock: get in the picture with her! Just when I was posing with her, she grabbed my arm to never let me go, and that is how she gets her food.... again, what an amazing day. That evening we ate the most fresh and tasty food again after a nice swim in the river, of to bed and the last day.
The last day I apparently used all my luck. Something in the food upset my stomach and I had to run off to the ‘Jungle toilet’ at least 8 times in 1 hour, I marked a whole area around there haha. So with no food or water or energy inside, I decided to skip the last walk to the waterfall and go straight for the rafting back to the town. Everything got tied up to 4 tubes and the guides, the Spanish couple and me had to fit between all of it. Even though I wasn’t feeling well, I laughed my ass off, now I knew how the kids felt like. Just having fun on the water with a tube, who needs more! Soon after we were back in town, ready to get changed and get some energy. The owner of the hostel asked me how it was and I explained him my fluid food problem. He took off with his bike and one minute later he was back with guava leaves. I had to eat them with some salt en water, have a nap and take a bit more. So I did... the next day everything was back to normal again! Time to enjoy my last nights in Bukitlawang with Hanna and the guys from Terimakasih reggae bar. We played football, went for some more tubing and offcourse played a lot of music (and tried to sing, still failing..). But all good things come to an end, although I would have loved to stay there longer, there was more of Sumatra to discover.
The next morning Hanna and I took off towards the west coast, but first we had a stop in Berestagi where we climbed a volcano and did some shopping. The ‘nightbus’ would take us to a little town where we had to catch the ferry. In Sumatra a nightbus is a little van with 10 people, where the driver smokes, plays music the whole night and you get tossed around like a little pingpongball. So no beauty sleep for us. We arrived at 6am and the ferry would leave around 10am. After some hand and feet language, we bought ourselves some tickets, but a non touristy island is offcourse not that on time with transport. After 3h waiting we discovered we would leave in an hour. So at 14pm we left for our 3.5h ride to the first island. In the ferry we were the main attraction and made a ton of selfies (yes they have the best phones offcourse), and a lot of friends. One of the guys told us that we had to go to another smaller island. The main island would be boring. He helped us getting a small boat after the ferry and called is friend that we were coming. We first doubted if he was trying to set us up, but he was totally right. We arrived 2h later on a small island, after being in a really small boat on the sea in the dark. We got food straight away and were off quite quick to get some sleep and discover the island the next morning. It was so beautiful!!! The island was really small with just a few bungalows. Totally covered in palm trees and a bright white beach and bright blue sea. And we were so lucky to go snorkelling that day. We were all alone between the deserted islands, the sea had all kinds of blue colours and the coral and fishes had the brightest colours. We swam, dove and snorkelled the whole day and ended the trip with fresh coconuts and rice. Time to head back to the main island towards Lake Toba.
The ‘ride’ back wasn’t that easy. The sea was a bit rougher that morning and I was even a bit scared. The waves were so high that we even had to stop behind a small island to wait for a while. Unfortunately the sea didn’t calm down and we had a ferry to catch, so we all decided to move on. Thank god, it went a bit better and we saw the ferry coming in sight. We made it. But we still had to go to the main island. We soon discovered the ferry wasn’t leaving today because of a festival. We were stuck on the island, but had to leave that day or else I couldn’t see lake Toba and had to go straight to Medan for my flight. After some calls, some friends of ours booked a bit expensive speedboat. But it was worth it, when we almost arrived, it drove through the mangroves, it was so much fun and the sunset was amazing. Oh that day I ripped my pants twice by the way, trying to get on and off the boat. Our day ended after a small ride to a town, the last stop before lake Toba.
Heading to lake Toba was another adventure, sitting in a small van with double the amount of people trying to squeeze in, driving way to fast and trying to pass cars where it wasn’t even possible. But you’re reading this story, so apparently we made it. Our hostel was set at a more touristy place, except there were hardly any tourists. We went for a bike ride and after showing Hanna to ride, we ended up at the most beautiful places and stunning views. We drove for around 5h and after a good sunburn we had a few beers at a local bar with live music. Our last day before heading back to Medan.
The last day at Medan was again nothing special. I showed Hanna around and we spent our last night in the same hostel again with the Muslims in the mosque shouting in my ear.. Ah well, it was all worth it. I had the most amazing time and met the most amazing people.. Time to say goodbye and head off to Vietnam, my last stop before seeing my family again..
Although dreams are for free, to achieve them is priceless, Loesje.
29 september 2016 17:07 | Door: Lucy Gayet
Weer een mooi verhaal over Sumatra, en jou beleving.
Veel plezier, en geniet.