That was a long way to Bengkulu. It is about a 260km ride, but on Sumatran roads it can easily take you a day. The last driver brought us to the meeting point with our Couchsurfing host and he was also the only driver that asked us for money that day, though he quickly agreed with us not paying and left. Ferdi and his friend picked us up on two scooters and brought us to the house where we stayed three days instead of the intended one. We stayed with Ferdi’s neighbours, a family of three women: Ibu the mom and her two daughters Putri and Juni. The evening was great – we went for a delicious dinner with the guys and a tour of Bengkulu at night. It was great till I started feeling a bit funny……but thinking that I must have been just tired I went to bed. All night long I could not sleep and suffered from high fever (of course, we did not have our thermometer with us and measured Indonesian style with the back of a hand). In the morning Ferdi took me to the Chistian hospital to find out what was happening to me. I gave some blood and …bang!…bacterial infection – typhoid fever – still a frequent case in Indonesia. Antibiotics, vitamins and other pills, sleep and rest for at least three days and a strict diet for another 2-3 weeks. Well, not really according to plan… the visas were running out soon, there was still such a long way to the ferry that goes to Malaysia, therefore we needed to change the route. We booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur from the closest airport which was still 540km away on an island with no public transport and poor road conditions.
Ferdi, Ibu and the girls became our family for those three days. Sascha even had to go and meet the head of the neighbourhood to inform him that we were staying a bit longer. I could not have received better care. I am speechless, overwhelmed and happy to experience that this world is full of kind-hearted people that help in tough times. I spent three days with fever, headache and being generally unwell. But the great people around me tried to make those days easier and even enjoyable. Sascha was all around me with anything I needed – so happy and lucky to have such a caring husband :-*. Thank you so much to all of you for being with me!
On the fourth day we had to move on. We did not feel like hitchhiking with me having fever, so Sascha and Ferdi did some research on the connections to Mukomuko which is half way to the airport in Padang. The “public” transportation on Sumatra works in a way that there are guys that own a 7-seater-car and offer a ride. The price with those guys to Mukomuko would be half of the price of our flight to Malaysia (200 000 Indonesian rupiah). After riding across the city for two hours looking for a bus station that did not exist, Sascha and Ferdi found a tiny “station” with buses to Mukomuko. The price was acceptable, apparently the bus is not popular among locals, as the buses are very bad and slow.
And right they were, the bus was falling apart and it was slow (it took us 8h to cover 270km) but contrary to what we were told, it was very popular among locals. Of course it took more people than it could fit. The first thing the locals did was filling up the empty bus with their luggage (mostly boxes, Indonesians love to travel with boxes). After that it started filling up with people. They could not fit the people so they unloaded the boxes and loaded them again. Every single man on that bus was smoking, I gave a no-smoking lesson to the one in front of me and he managed not to :). Whenever anyone needed to pop out the bus and buy a new pack of cigarettes, the bus driver would stop. In the middle of the trip, we had an expected-unexpected break for about an hour when everyone went for lunch and the bus driver had to change a tire. I still had a fever and a headache and I was sitting on the sunny side of the bus “enjoying” the ride.
We arrived in Mukomuko when it just got dark. Thanks to Ferdi, we were hosted by his brother the policeman and his family. They picked us up from the bus and brought us to their house. Again we could not expect better care. Thank you so much!!!
The next day we decided to hitchhike. Hitchhiking is the best, the fastest and the most efficient way to get anywhere on Sumatra. Indeed it was – a couple of trucks and sedans and we arrived in Padang – the city that is famous for its cuisine ( ;-( I can’t try anything on my low-fat no spice diet) and our last city in Sumatra from where we flew to Malaysia.
In the end, we had to admit, even with a little misfortune with my fever, Sumatra is our favourite in Indonesia: it is wild, has beautiful national parks and jungles, not so many people and tourists, friendly locals that don’t ask you for money, but friendly greeting each of us with “Hello mister! Where are you?” and truly breathtaking sea-side! A paradise we would be happy to come back to!