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    Tropical Storm Tour: Sumatra Part 13

    Sunday, August 16, 2015
    Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia

    A yummy breakfast at Fido Dido Guesthouse in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A yummy breakfast at Fido Dido Guesthouse in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A bit of gambling goes down in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A bit of gambling goes down in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Around noon, after munching on an omelet and a delicious chilled half pineapple for breakfast, I checked out of the Fido Dido Guesthouse and schlepped down the footpath on the side of the Bohorok river. I passed through a bunch of the souvenir stalls, where I tried to buy a Bukit Lawang t-shirt bearing a funny, crudely rendered drawing of a monkey riding a tiger, but they only had white, which I don’t wear because dirt shows up too easily. Oh, well! I bought a few postcards instead. I also passed by all of the thatched huts that run down each side of the river that usually sit empty, but, as this was Sunday, were filled with throngs of Indonesian families on a weekend getaway. I wonder why they weren’t around yesterday?

    A colorful food stall in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A colorful food stall in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Arriving at the south end of the village, I caught a becak to the bus terminal a kilometer away, where I jumped on an orange mini-bus bound for Medan. Luckily, it was empty, so I was able to sit in the front seat with my backpack right next to me. As we proceeded through a bunch of small towns, various people got on and off. This driver went far slower than the nutcase speed demon with a deathwish who drove the mini-bus from Medan to Bukit Lawang. During the bumpy sections of the ride, we got jostled around a bit, but nowhere near as bad as last time. In one small town, we passed some kind of music shindig with a sexpot female singer standing on stage in tight clothes and super high heel platform shoes. Her appearance looked so incongruous with the small town jungle surroundings.It was odd.

    On weekends, throngs of Indonesian tourists flock to Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    On weekends, throngs of Indonesian tourists flock to Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    It started raining on and off part of the way through the trip, and by the time I got dumped off across the street from the Pinang Baris bus station in Medan, a torrential downpour was in full effect. I managed to duck under a roof, where I struggled to put on my big, heavy backpack with my messenger bag wedged between my knees because the ground was filthy and wet. When I finally got it on, I realized I had left my umbrella inside it. So, I had to take off the backpack again and pull out the umbrella, all while the locals grilled me about where I was going and if I needed a becak, etc. I just told them I needed a taxi cab.

    A messy scene in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A messy scene in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Then I opened my umbrella and headed out into the downpour. Walking around Pinang Baris, I realized it was more of a dirty, divided street than an actual bus station. It was pretty desolate, too, with just a few mini-buses around and people huddling under stalls. The weird thing was there were no taxi cabs anywhere. I ended up having to walk a half mile north to the Mawar Bakery and Cake Shop, where I should have disembarked in the first place. After asking around, I found out there was a taxi cab sitting across the street. So, I weaved through thick traffic over there, and sure enough, there was a middle-aged sitting guy in an old, privately-owned car.

    On weekends, throngs of Indonesian tourists flock to Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    On weekends, throngs of Indonesian tourists flock to Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    He offered to drive me all the way over to the Gandhi Inn for 70,000 rupiah, which is pretty much the standard price. After I jumped in, we proceeded across town at a glacial pace in his old rattletrap car, but I didn’t mind, as I got to see parts of town that I hadn’t before. The driver was the warm, touchy-feely type who repeatedly tapped my arm or leg to emphasize a point he was talking about–usually something to do with his life, Medan or Indonesia in general. It only took about 30 to 45 minutes to reach the Gandhi Inn, where the driver dumped me out around 6:00 pm. I spent the rest of the evening holed up inside my room catching up on some photo and word processing for this travel journal.

    Looking out the front of the mini-bus from Bukit Lawang to Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    Looking out the front of the mini-bus from Bukit Lawang to Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A taxi cab driver in Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A taxi cab driver in Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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