And if we wanted a contrast of cultures, we certainly got one
! On arriving at Batam - the chaos we had got used to returned with a vengeance as we got attacked by touts wanting to sell us tickets to the mainland! Paul resorted to the security guard to try and find out what the prices were supposed to be and after a few frustrating minutes working out why we hadn't bought the Indonesian guidebook in Cambodia when it was cheap - we got our tickets and started a very amusing game of musical chairs to find our seats on the boat! IT WAS GREAT! People watching central and everybody really friendly - we were to find that this is the way throughout Indonesia! Other things we also found out - everybody smokes lots, everywhere infact I think we inhaled so much smoke on our travels, we'll be having withdrawal symptoms when we get to Oz and everyone saying 'Hello Mr' whether your male or female! I've got boobs you know!
Anyway, both boat trips went without major event apart from rain and lots of it and we arrived on the mainland to be sheperded onto a little bus along with 63 boxes, 2 pigs, 14 chickens (actually it wasn't that bad but it felt like it after the spotless buses in Singapore!) with our knees somewhere close to our noses! This is what we like! And this is when we discovered another trait of a typical Indonesian bus journeys - the buskers! Everytime the bus stops, a different set of buskers gets on the bus so that by the time you reach the destination not only do you know every Indonesian song going, you're also skint!!!!
Welcome to Indonesia!!!
Well this was definitely the most complicated way of getting to Indonesia!!! We had to get a boat from Singapore to a little island called Batam just off the Sumatran coast and then another boat from here to the mainland and then connect with a bus to take us all the way to Pekanbaru in central Sumatra!!! Equipped with a 2001 edition of the 'South East Asia on a Shoestring', bartering prices definitely proved a challenge! The edition was written just after the SE Asian crash and we soon discovered that prices had quadrupled! Provided much amusement for the touts we were arguing with though and definitely made some friends probably thinking 'bloody stupid English!' Hee Hee! Anyway back to the border crossing, the skyline was stunning leaving Singapore in the early morning light but has to be said was focusing more on the view infront with a mix of fear (hype about earthquakes, etc) and excitement!!!!!