Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Somewhere in the middle of Sumatra

We are now in Jambi - just about half the way through Sumatra - but it has been long, tough days in a very cramped and uncomfortable Tuk-Tuk… I feel shaken,
rattled and rolled by the time we stop each night. My ears ring all night from how loud the rickshaw is and my hands keep shaking for hours after we stop.

What I have learned is that whatever money there is in this country is spent on Mosques and police. No matter how poor a village is, the mosque is beautiful and stands out in sharp contrast to the rest of the village. And there is police everywhere … lots of them. Must be the most popular job in Indonesia and clearly a large part of the government’s budget is to employ as many people as possible as policemen.
Despite the hardships, it has been a true adventure to see Indonesia this way. We go through the poorest and most economically depressed villages and yet everyone is sitting around with their friends… in the dust and grime ... telling jokes and laughing. Everywhere we go the people are so nice and friendly and genuinely astounded to see is rattling by in a Tuk-Tuk.
Rainey has done the lion’s share of the driving as he is masterful at dodging the giant potholes and avoiding the huge trucks which seem dead set on crushing us. Despite

Our Tuk Tuk has not yet broken down but we’ve been careful to take her in for service every other day and keep all fluids topped up. She is – however – VERY SLOW. We are averaging only 20-25 km per hour and it’s a LONG WAY to the top of Sumatra where we have to meet the boat to take us over to Malaysia. The boat that will take all of the Tuk Tuks across the Malacca straits leaves on October 24 so we have only a few days left to get to the port and over 1,200 KMs to go. Pretty soon here we are going to have to cut our losses and put our Tuk Tuk on a truck that can go twice as fast and get us there on time. It is really too dangerous to drive at night as our lights are barely functional and there is literally not enough daylight hours to drive the remaining distance.
Weird event: One the ferry from Java to Sumatra, they were
selling GUNS... Yes.. GUNS. Not sure how that is a safe idea but there you go. This guy was acting out Dirty Harry.. Indonesian Style as he tested the guns.
We have seen very few of the other teams but have heard some of the horror stories. A Dutch couple rolled their Tuk-Tuk (hit a huge pothole at the wrong angle and over it went – no serious injuries, just some bruises) and another couple’s entire engine blew out and they are stuck in a small town having it totally replace. We ended up leaving the British couple team that we had set out with because their Tuk Tuk kept overheating and could not go more than 10-15 Kms without breaking down and needing a cooling down period. They are now almost 2 days behind us.
And here is a new one for me .. selling in a gas station store yesterday... Seaweed Pringles !!!!
Clearly a taste that has not yet reached American shores.


guthriefamilynews.blogspot said...

Fascinating; thank you.

Heidi said...

so glad that your tuk tuk seems to be holding out. Is it legal to put it on a truck and head for the boarder? Poor Chris is s disappointed that he hasn't managed to get his visa. Hopefully he can meet you in Malaysia.
Hope you guys are having lots of fun and many laughs to go along with all the adventures.
Love to you both

Jodi Mathura said...

Sounds to me like you'll got the best deal with the Tuk Tuk. What a great time you'll must be having - enjoy every minute of it!!!

Anonymous said...

Good job guys, must be the superior maintenance schedule and of course the great driving and navigating skills that are keeping you out of the repair shops and on the road.


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