Selamat sore! Everybody,
I have to say, my first day in Indonesia sucked ass. I set-sail from Singapore at around 8.30am, it only took 1 hour to reach Indonesia’s border so relativaly short When I arrived in Indonesia, I didn’t have a penny to my name, not in any currency. I’m not to sure why I didn’t think I might need money to get a taxi from the border and I certainly didn’t think I would have to pay for a Visa, but I did, 25 US dollars to be precise. To make matters more interesting there wasn’t an ATM at the border crossing and they couldn’t accept credit cards of any type. So, in short I was fucked. No money to pay for a boat back to Singapore and no money to enter Indonesia. After a short while begging a interesting arrangement happened shortly after, I was to give my passport to a security guard, leave my rucksack at the border and jump in a taxi to take me 20 minutes to the nearest ATM machine. Everything above is usually a big no-no in the travelling world, but I had no option. Passport left, rucksack left, I jumped into an unmarked taxi and got driven off in the wilderness.
At the ATM I suddenly realised I didn’t have a clue about the currency, I clicked ‘fast cash’ and stared blankley at the obscene figures infront of me. I had the option of withdrawing the minimum of 50,000, so I withdrew 250,000 to be safe. I popped back to the Taxi and asked him how much it would be, 100,000 was the price. I wasn’t in the position to be bargaining seeing as all my life was left back at the border – so I returned to the ATM and withdrew a cool million.
Back at the border, getting the Visa now I had money was easy, so I walked to buy a ticket to take me to Sumatra – I couldn’t do this alone, oh no, I got about 10 people begging to take me there, eventully I shook them all off but, one man remained.
He honestly told me there are no boats till tommorrow morning and dishonestly told me all the hostels in the Lonely Planet had closed down and then charged me 100,000 to take me to another hotel, which cost 140,000 for 1 night. I still didn’t have a clue how much all this funny money was worth.
At the hostel I found out. I cried a little bit, got grumpy and then shadow boxed infront of the mirror, in my boxershorts, for no apparent reason.
I had just spend nearly 15 pounds (my daily budget) on Taxi’s, 15 pounds on a visa and more money on horrible food and that wasn’t inlcluding the additional 15 pounds to get to my next destination.
I tried to walk around Batam but got so annoyed with people harrasing to take me places, taxis slowing down and beeping at me, people begging for money that I surrendered and took refuge in a Mc-escape-culture-shock-Donalds. Paying a set priced pleased me, then I locked myself in my room and tried desperatly to learn the local language, before surrending and studying Thai for 3 hours before falling asleep.
The following day, I woke up at 6.30am to get a taxi (the same driver) to take me to the harbour, I was aware he was going to charge me the 100,000 again so I thought fuck it, after paying that, from then on I will bargain like del-boy and take no further bending over! So, when I arrived at the harbour he said 150,000 ‘because it’s morning’. I laughed. Gave him 100,000 declined his offer of providing him with a tip, smilled and walked away, seceretly depserate to find another traveller to make this headache situation amusing.
Luckily on the boat after 2 hours of watching Chinese New Year pop-videos I spotted a foreigner and inatiated converstaion. I travelled with Grant for 18 hours on buses and boats to get here, Bukkittingi.
Today was a complete turn around, myself and Grant were asked to go to a local school and chat with the students, but the teacher never arrived to meet us so we decided to rent motorbikes and visit a few things instead. We explored the Japanese war tunnels, which were nice, fed some monkeys, then drove off up hills, past volcanoes, into villages, over canyons and waved at every Indonesian we passed. It was amazing, the most refreshing and exciting thing I have done for a long time, we found small villages where people were playing, eating and actually pleased to see us, they didn’t want to sell us anything, get us to go anywhere, they just wanted to say “Hello” or ‘Hi” to us in English.
On the way back We stopped off and had a coffee in the most amazing cafe, chatted to a Muslim family, ate fresh cookies, then drove back and stared at rice fields, rice terraces and watched a farmer try and control 5 upset buffallos.
Tommorrow we will do the same, but rent the motorbikes all day instead and stop to chat to more locals on the way, then the following day continue heading north.
Sampai Jumper (Goodbye!)
Tags: Indonesia, Travel