Nias (soundtrack- Bob Marley)

Trip Start Apr 10, 2004
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Trip End Jun 09, 2004


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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Thursday, May 13, 2004

We're in Bukittinghi now, back on Sumatra mainland- it's a small town in the mountains surrounded by three volcanoes. Quite nice, Western food, which has been heaven after nine days of pretty much just rice, noodles and egg- had pizza with REAL CHEESE our first nite here which was a bit of an excitement. The local transport is provided by sweet little ponies with red pom-poms on their heads pulling buggies, and the shopping's really good. This was our second day here and weve spent most of it shopping- more shoe shops than ive seen in any one place, and really good 'skater clothes'. Simon bought two pairs of jeans yesterday (diesel, only $40 each) and about 20 t-shirts- he's back at the losman right now trying to fit it all in his pack.

Nias was beautiful. After a nightmare 25hrs travel from Lake Toba- bus, 9hr ferry, 4hrhorrible bus on non-existent rd, then truck, it was all worth it when the last half hour was spent cruising through rice fields along a palm-lined road. Our losman (Horas Hilton) was a little bungalow only three metres from the water, with a deck, a hammock- paradise. We woke up to the sound of the waves and spent days reading on the balcony, taking way to many photos of the palm trees, and chatting to the locals who dropped in- whether to sell us mangoes, wooden carvings, books, or bum cigarettes. Went surfing twice, both times at 6am- watching the sun rise on the water made it worth it- the first time after a rather big nite on the Bintang (Indo beer). Horas was to be our teacher, but i think he took the term rather loosely, as he simply led us into the water and then began to surf. So, after giggling nervously for a couple of minutes and struggling to even stay on the boards, we just went for it. I managed to stand up five times and had a blast, though i was covered in cuts and bruises from the reef, and completely exhausted from paddling. Second day didnt fare so well- got wiped out many, many times, and after my board speared me in the back Id had enough and, being barely able to move my arm, just managed to drag myself out of the water (my shoulder's STILL sore). And there endeth the surfing. Maybe we'll try again without the reef.

Aprt from the surfing, the only energetic thing we did all week was go up to one of the nearby villages- for the first half-hour we had an escort of about twenty kids- I had four little girls hanging off each arm, and Simon had a screaming group of boys who all begged to have their photo taken and then jumped up and down with excitement when they did. We picked up a couple of local teenagers who decided to skip afternoon school and practice English with us instead- then had to walk for an hour-and-a-half in the stinking heat up a hill, stone staircases. Not fun. The village was just two intersecting paved 'streets' lined with traditional houses- the ground in the middle was devoted to drying rice which was spread out on tarps, and there were kids and tailess cats everywhere.

Apart from some of the locals at Nias constantly trying to get 'memories' off us- 'you give me ring', 'you give me pen', it was a really nice place. Spent a lot of time playing with Horas's kids, who started off shy, but were completely comfortable around us after 8 days- the two year-old,apart from constantly holding up her arms to be picked up, even started pinching us and spitting on Simon just for fun. There werent many people there, (much to Simon's disgust I was the only female tourist there for the whole first week, and not even any local girls to be seen) Lagundri Bay is a quite small, perfect horseshoe bay, and there were probably only about 30 people staying there, most of them surfers- Nias: the untapped resource :)As the waves were crap, everyone got on the Bintang and Asaka (lethal local whisky) most nites- it was any excuse (Japanese guy's last nite, local guy's son's 4th b'day, barbecuing a pig...). So we got to know everyone on the beach- the locals(all speak perfect English) as well as the other tourists. Second last day we finally walked down to the swimming beach, where Sime and one of the local guys built a sandcastle together :) When it came to it, we didnt want to leave- and of course it was the most beautiful afternoon we'd had.

But Bukkittinghi is nice, and after the 12hr ferry, 11hr bus it took to get here, it seemed even nicer. Today, apart from shopping, we walked around town and went to the zoo, which was disgraceful- full of dusty enclosures occupied by bored, depressed animals. Low-light was discovering two enormous male orangutans, both in tiny, dark cages, their hair matted like dreadlocks, sitting staring through the bars. Tonite caught a pony up to the nearby canyon to watch the sun set, the fruit bats flying across, and all the stars come out. Tomorrow morning we leave on a two day trek to nearby Lake Menninjau- sort of looking forward to doing something strenuous again, and we get to stay out in the jungle again so it'll be worth it.

Hope all is well, luv,
Mel

Happy bday for Friday little bro, have an awesome day :)
simons journal- shand180 password- hitmonlee
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