Indonesia – Sumatra, XI.2014
Arriving in Asia, especially in such God-forgotten place like Bandar Lampung, was like a jump into deep water. Again, why Bandar Lampung? Apparently flights Prague – Dubai – Jakarta – Bandar Lampung were significantly cheaper than just Prague – Dubai – Jakarta, Strange, isn’t it? But I guess that’s kind of the things you have to search for if you want to get cheaper flights – unusual solutions.
First shock was the heat striking after getting out of the plane. Tropical thirty degrees after air-conditioned aircraft, and after November Sofia and Prague made a nice contrast. Better from cold to warm, anyway. Airport itself is a small pavillion, few buildings with red roofs surrounded by palms, and looks more like houses on the side of a long and empty road used only for take-offs and landings.
Next shock as we got out of the airport was the noise. First experience with Indonesian traffic, which we’ve found the most dense and crazy in all the trip including Malaysia and Thailand. No rules, scooters everywhere, and crossing the street was like a struggle for survival… each and every time. Here’s a short clip from Jakarta center, but believe me, even in small town like Bandar Lampung it was the same.
The tip for crossing the streets was to find a local people and cross with them. As we got more advanced in this art the solution became to raise the hand in stopping gesture (or “down boy” gesture, as for the dog), and just cross hoping that all the vehicles will respect your right to live. Seemed to work, just there was always one more scooter charging every time.
Let me tell a bit about Sumatra itself. Before getting there I was excited as it is not much of a touristic destination – at least not as much as Java or Bali. One main road goes from south to north for over 2400 kilometers To give the scale it’s a similar distance as from Madrid to Berlin or Rome to Stockholm… And in fact, it is not much of a touristic destination, finding English speaking people was not so easy to do at first, finding the tourist information center – impossible. There’s always a solution, like the first taxi driver called his English speaking friend to translate on the phone the directions to the place – creative juices flow when there’s money to be earned.
Still, we’ve been left by the driver in some bus station outside of the main city. Lucky to have GPS on tablet, we’ve started to walk towards something that was supposed to be center. Decided to enter a university expecting there will be some people knowing English, and indeed. We got welcome by the nicest professor of business management ever – and I know what I’m talking about since I’ve studied business management. He offered us water, invited to his office, and since his assistant was going to pick up someone in the center he offered us to drive with him. Just to the entrance of a hotel, where we could sleep over the jetlag from travel to the other side of the world.
As you can see, not many pictures from Bandar Lampung. Why? The town itself is not that spectacular and I had not much opportunities to catch anything worth photographing. But the story continues, as things were happening.
Next shock was the reaction of the locals to the foreigners. As we were walking down the streets people were waving, shouting “Mister, mister, hello!” and even stopping the cars to open the windows and greet us. At least when we were walking together, because when I was going out alone no greetings have welcomed me… strange, as I look definitely more foreign than Dani, with my blonde hair and pale carnation. Later on we understood that this kind of attention may have been brought on us by Dani’s uncovered shoulders in a Muslim country – hypothesis that confirmed when put to test. The rate of “Mister, mister!” was going down with covering up shoulders, and disappeared with covered head.
By the way, the woman on the photo (one behind Dani), was carefully counting the things we ate after the meal was finished. Guess it is serve-all-you-can and pay-what-you-eat kind of system.