Pekanbaru to Duri 134km Duri to Dumai 80km
I got up to "breakfast included" but couldn't bring myself to ingest Nash Goreng. I guess I've just had enough. Instead I had two cold boiled eggs and a couple of congealed deep fried patties of unidentifiable make. Oh well. Perhaps later in the day will be better for food.
I was still tired after yesterday's big ride, but need to put in a few kms today because my visa has only a couple of days to run. I'm heading towards Duri. It looks to be just over half way to Dumai, the ferry port, but I can't find anywhere any idea of the actual distance. Finally a guy tells me Dumai is about 200km, and it takes five to six hours to drive there. So maybe just over 100km today, with a shorter day the next day.
I'm not feeling very sociable, and am not keen on being engaged in polite conversation with locals with limited English. I reckon it's probably time for a change of country, a few days off, or both. All day, every time I stop, I choose somewhere quiet, preferably where I can hide from inquisitive passers, somewhere in the shade, and hopefully in a breeze. Sometimes it even works.
I'm hiding in the shadows of an unused roadside stall. This guy is pushing his scooter past and spots me. He is an English Teacher. He was up all night marking exams. Now his scooter has broken down, and he's late for work. But I've made his day. I am the first native English speaker he has ever had a personal conversation with. He records our chat on his phone..which then runs out of battery. Luckily his wife turns up on her scooter, and all is solved.
A car stops at the top of a hill and a respectable looking businessman gets out. He stops me. He wants a photo of us together. He drives off happy.
The terrain is hilly. Bigger than roller coasters, and the uphill sections need gear changes and some grinding, and it's hot. I stop for a coconut, and there are a few spots of rain. A couple of km along the road they've had a massive downpour. Fiona and I are forced to ride though some pretty deep puddles and streams. And we're being drenched by all the other vehicles passing us. The road is very busy.
This area is Oil Country. Lots of Oil wells, pipelines, drilling rig, and bigger trucks than I've seen anywhere in Indonesia. Also lots of big buses, loaded to the hilt, running this East West Sumatran Highway.
The downpour has been very localized, and shortly the road is dry, until about 5km later, when I'm zooming down a hill, and turning a corner, I hit a wall of water. Another localized shower. Now Fiona and I are wet.
The coconut had revived me (see later for that secret recipe) and at last, at 90km, a sign...Duri 43km. Bother. Still that's where the Hotels are. I'm now in afternoon rush hour. The huge trucks are joined by the hordes of kids on scooters. And there are hold ups. A petrol tanker has broken down. It sits in the middle of the road, unmovable. A 3km tailback, reminds me of Auckland. No problem for Fiona. We wip up the outside, with the scooters. Then there's road works. More tailback. Same solution. Would you belive it? Another tanker broken down. No wonder it takes five or six hours. Fiona and I zip on by, and are in Duri long before the rest of the traffic.
Wow. Find a cheapo Hotel, although the bathroom wasn't flash. All I need is a shower, read bucket of cold water over the head, and a bed to sleep on, so I'm happy. I've just done my second biggest distance in Indonesia, and feel pretty good. Must have been the rain, cooling everything down.
And then into Dumai. Once again I'm not convinced of the kms I have to do. Indonesia has km posts, but the are unreliable. We have seen...27km, 26km, 24km, 23km, 22km, 25km.... Many don't even have numbers on them. One day I was heading towards BGL. Wasn't sure what BGL meant, as it wasn't on my map, but it was 30km away. Okay, BGL for lunch. At 30km....nothing. No town. No shop. No junction. Just a post with BGL 0KM. The towns are very hard to distinguish between the villages. The km posts may start in the Centre , on the north side or on the south side. Many times I've kept riding to the zero post only to find I'd passed through the whole town. Confusing. Best idea is stop, rest, feed, drink at every opportunity.
So turns out Dumai is 80km from Duri. I find the ferry terminal, but can't buy tickets here. Have to get them in the city. No problem. A very kind gentleman shows me the way, then takes me to his brothers house. Turns out to be my Warmshowers contact. Sweet. I help out with a couple of English lessons, and the day is done. Malaysia tomorrow.
The Recipe for a Happy Marriage: One helping of fresh coconut milk One duck egg One spoon of honey Blend and drink ( a little massaging of the middle toe will add delight to your night)