Steensbech asks if I will join him in
Indonesia in a few months. No, not really - I just came home
Western Afric. Thinking about it for a
couple of days, and then thinking about it, is my biggest wish: Of
course I want to go with him, Artist-Klaus, Henriette and Biver to
The Fjälreväven is packed, the injections given, and after a short flight to Heatrow, London, we continue to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I kind of remember a bit of the towns layout, and guide around. We spend the afternoon, then head to Butterworth by night train. New clean sleeping car, but unfortunately built for dwarves!
Morning in Botterworth, down to the ferry to Penang, where we immediately proceed to the Port of Georges Town, to catch the boat to Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia. It just doesn't sail on Saturdays, but all the agencies are more than willing to sell us a ticket (DKK 110) for Sunday.
In our desperate struggle to find another connection, we pass the
harbour bailiff's office. We are told that the ferry suffered
machine damage last Friday, and will probably not sail Sunday, and
perhaps not Monday either.
We find a small sidewalk restaurant and get some food before heading to the airport. Get a fun yellow card: "Gold Lounge" along with the boarding card. "Well, we probably can't afford that, but they probably have a nice toilet". Oh yes - and free coffee, cake, bar, newspapers, telephone, fax, coke, etc. We had come to the right shelf for just DKK 30 extra. The 1st class stewards are 1st class and so is everything from the wide leather seats to the food too.
After the far too short flight, we stay seated to let the mob go out first. After a while, the staff becomes a little impatient, as the mob is waiting behind the curtain. We walk out to our private bus, and have the custom to ourselves, because the backpacks have also travelled in the first class.
Then we are finally on Sumatra Indonesia, it has become afternoon, and it is time to find shelter for the night. We drive into Medan, which must be one of the world's most polluted cities. It's clean, but the smog is barely cut through.
Somewhere we see flying dogs hanging with steel wire around their
feet. They are sold by a street vendor for dinner. Can it fly,
crawl, walk, crawl, swim, or jump; it can be eaten!
It will be a heavy rainstorm, and Steensbech and I take a walk in
the deserted streets, much to the delight of the locals, who stand
and crawl together in gates and coffee shops. It doesn't get any
better, Steensbech has some pretty slick shorts on. We find some
umbrellas for all of us. It helps; it's not raining the rest of the
There can be 4 backpacks, 200 kg of rice, 200 kg of chemicals and 3
rolls of barbed wire + the loose, on the roof of a Hi Ace, and 26
people inside / outside it, along with their concrete posts,
chickens and what do I know.
We get the house's specialty: Flat pancakes with anything, and
coffee on the terrace. Steensbech and I walk up the river to rent a
few rings. We are smart (we thought), and rent right up where the
The funniest thing is actually the crossing of the stream. A hollowed-out tree trunk is filled with tourists, and during the crossing, it is almost filled with water. The current is quite strong and it drives the "ferry", which is attached to a front and rear wires. When we go back, some of the locals do not bother to wait for the ferry, and just walk 30 meters down the river, crossing on foot. There are tourists who have gotten more wet!
We find a "company" that arranges tracking and rafting. We start
with rafting, but only the next morning. The rest of the day we
spend reading, eating, sleeping, and for me: Humiliating Steensbech
in tupe rafting. We go further and further, and use all trix, even
We have 3 guides as the size of the boat requires a minimum of 8 passengers. We take turns using the foot pump to get air into the boat. Excess clothing, shoes, cameras and food come in black plasticbags, the boat is carried 30 meters, almost vertically, down to the river. We get on helmets and life jackets and throw ourselves into the waves.
It goes through some of the most beautiful primeval forest one can imagine, down by waterfalls and somewhere we pass a village's citizens or more likely a tour group. They are down by the river and bathing. As we pass, everyone is waving and those with cameras (3-4 pieces) are photographing us eagerly.
Sometimes, we pass under narrow suspension bridges, maybe 50-100
meters above our heads.
We topple over the boat's railing, into the extremely hot water. At the bottom of the bay the water is probably 60-70C, further out more comfortable. On the shore, there are plastered mud pools and boiling springs. Away from the smell; a deeply breathtaking area.
We reach a sandy beach, where we go ashore. Inside the primeval forest, a narrow but 15 meter high waterfall is showered. We get some muscle massages while the guides prepare lunch. Cold, strong spicy concocted dish, followed by fruit. We stretch out on the sandy beach, and show each other magic tricks.
Then it goes on. On a relatively flat, wide and calm stretch, we
push each other in the water, and swim along the boat. Inside the
shore we have been able to see giant ferns, marecats, monitors,
orchids, giant bamboo, java ferns, peace lilies, and just a huge
At an early stage we encounter some half-empty orang-utans.
Steensbech gives it a drink from its water bottle. It steals the
water bottle and baths, Steensbech thirsts, and hopes his cold sores
will infect it! We others laugh.
We see many other monkeys and other animals. Big butterflies, the
sound of exotic birds, and a rare glimpse of one. I run ahead, stop
and look around, while the others catch up, time and time again. It
is probably quite dangerous to run on the slopes of the primeval
forest, whether up or down, but you see more. When walking, you
spend 95% of your time finding foot / hand fasteners. When you stand
still, you can use all your senses to consider the surrounding
The others sit on the first row, I on the 4th. They spend the night
looking at the little piece of asphalt, illuminated by the
headlights, fearing for their lives. I talking to a woman from Java,
as well as sleeping.
We take the ferry (there were 2 until February, then one went down with man and mouse!), to the island of Pulau Weh. We find the tourist car (14 bag-packers sit and ignors each other: They are out where no other white man ever been, and try to maintain that illusion), and are driven into town. The first night we spend in the "capital" Sebang. The first hotel we find, is too disgusting, given the price. The second very hot and without the great opportunities for venting, but it is getting late.
We go out to town to get some food. Lonely Planet recommends a restaurant. We walk towards it, pass a lot of dark but exciting eateries, and get to an over-enlightened plastic horror. It may have been a good eatery since it was "discovered," but the owner has misused his increased profits.
After the unlucky dinner, Steensbech and I go for a walk. The
streets are quite dark, and sometimes a little light comes out from
a cafe / bar or a grocery shop. We find a cup of tea on a porch, and