This note comes to you direct from New York City. I last updated just before I arrived in Sumatra, the largest island of Indonesia. Asia 13 will be my best attempt to fill in the gaps there-in.
The 45 minute flight from Kuala Lumpur to Medan, Indonesia’s 4rd largest city felt more like 35 minutes. Hanging around the check in counter before take off was as creepy as it was fruitful. Found the most incredible Egyptian man to mule a few files and grinding stone for me from Malaysia to Indonesia. (I have a thing against checking a bag, so either I throw the large metal files of pay a price greater than their worth to check them below or..) I find a mule to carry them for me. A small miracle led me to asking a younger dreadlocked north african straight from the Oreville commune in the of india. His rastafarian appearance was 1/10 as interesting as his stories. From the extreme worldview that only a true functioning commune can cultivate to the stories of traversing the far reaching untouched lands of the Himalaya in Kashmir and Jammu, everything about this kid peeked my fascination and ultimately my adoration. When we arrived in Medan I was more than obliged to spot him the $25 USD required for purchasing a visa on arrival. I got to hear more of his stories as we left the airport in search of a money changer that would accept indian rupee. Medan was certainly a number of rungs beneath Malaysia (or thailand) on the development ladder. Dirtier, noisier, way way more honking. “Hey Mister!” seemed to be the first and possibly only english words taught in the country.
Finally found someone to take Rupees and my new friend and I parted company. Final destination was a certain Nias Island off of the opposite coast from Medan. On the surf guidebook’s suggestion I made haste to the center of Sumatra to a place called Danau Toba. Would encourage fact checking here but Lake Toba joins only Yellowstone on the list of world’s super volcanoes. Absolutely magical collapsed volcanic lake the has a big mountain tip island surrounded by it’s unfathomably deep waters (near-pun acknowledged).
No sooner than had I arrived in Medan I was gone on a bus bound for the lake. Distinct memory: staring from the bus window and at an attractive young indonesian women breast feeding, wasn’t totally turned on but took far more than a passing glance…acceptable?
Got a considerable rush when the bus made the final turn revealing an amazing view of the volcanic lake. I imagined in my head a helicopter shooting film for some crazy Imax production. After flying at great speed from the tight confines of the jungle road the copter-cam passes fast and tight over the slow moving bus (me) and the super-blue mammoth lake explodes into view as the all foreground imagery like the bus and mountain side vanish behind it. Even minus the dramatic chopper camera work the panorama was breathtaking.
Side note; all photos from this note were taken from Google Earth. Fucking lost my memory card approximately 2 days before returning to the US.
Toba ended up being an interesting place. At one point it time it was obvious that the lake experienced much more tourism than it currently does. There seem to be approximately 1000X as many rooms in the area as available guests. The situation creates a lot of aggressive behavior and general demeanor from many of the local people there. Still a intensely beautiful place.
One day took a moped trip to a couple mountain side hot springs. Hot pools from sweet vistas, check.
The next day I sampled some of the local psychedelic fare. Mind blown. Moon visited. Sat down to gather myself in the meditative position and didn’t move for 3 hours. Mountains moved. Palm trees floated. Every exotic sight and color, flora and fauna reintroduced itself to me only now with emphasis on the weirdness of color shape and texture. Tropical jungle brilliant greens contrasted the super deep blues from the lake. I could have written and essay on blood flowing in my body, I swear I could see it happening. Anywho…good time.
Shipped out after a couple days. Was hell bent on getting to the ocean and finding surf and since all three branches of my personal government are me, me and me, I did just that. On the quite short yet impossibly long journey to Nias Island off of the SW coast of Sumatera I ran into another fellow that was making the same journey I was. I was a little surprised to find out that he was traveling to the same small island, but when I came to find out that he was a fellow Minnesotan I was a lot surprised.
Journey probably covered less than a couple hundred miles but exceeded the 24 hour mark. Was visited by a rare case of car sickness as the bus (minivan really) weaved through the pathetic jungle road. A 13 hour overnight ferry followed by around 5+ hours on inter-island transit made for a long day.
End up sharing a double room with Minnesotan for the next week as we both did our best Midwestern impressions of surfers.
Place was around $3 per person. Had a good view of the wave from the hammock outside my door. Fell easily back into the surf-and-recover lifestyle. Surf until I am no longer physically capable, lay in the hammock, eat and repeat. It is absolutly a wonder that I remain quite a terrible surfer.
Wave was amazing. These are the words of the largest surf forecast website…”It’s been called many things including Nias, Lagundri, Sorake and most often just The Point, but whatever name is used, it always ends up in the world’s top 10 waves.” Not my words but seemingly accurate. Nasty barrels in some of the worlds warmest turquoise water.
Besides the wave, the island was a tropical paradise. Ended up losing my memory card with only a couple days remaining on my entire trip. Sheeeeit. Again, photos stolen off of google earth.
Ended up setting up a deal with the family from the village that took care of me. Paid around $12 for my bed and 3 meals a day. Pretty sweet little setup. Read a lot. Am getting pretty nasty in the hammock. Decent way to spend a 30 days.
After a month of hanging around the tiny surfing village with surfers (some of the driest individuals to walk the planet) and locals (some of the most forceful salespeople i’ve encountered) I was ready to leave. Not only ready to leave the island, but ready to leave the area, the country, the hemisphere. I was ready to go home. Ready to surround myself with people that love me. Felt like a good time to go, so I did.
Checked a few flights back home…expensive. Over 10 million Indonesian Rupiah. Ended up scoring a buddy pass off of a friend in one of the most benevolent maneuvers I can remember. If Karma is real then I should def run out and give a monk a handjob cause I am running a huge deficit.
Kicked it an Bangkok for a few days before completing the journey. Bought a whole bunch of shit. I am now the owner of pants (2 pair) shoes (3 pair), a shirt with sleeves on it and even a computer. Not too sure how I feel about the last one but here I am…sitting on my new Thai keyboarded laptop, typing away, checking my facebook, staring at porn, like any responsible god fearing american should.
Digging myself further into Karmanic dept, my standby flights from Bangkok to Tokyo and Tokyo to New York turned themselves into first class tickets. Full reclining bed, sipping on wine, eating a surprisingly palatable tenderloin…made the journey a treat more than a chore.
Excited for the next chapter. Visiting the closest thing I have to a brother here in New York. Still glad I don’t live here but it’s still a pretty nifty place. Family-and-friend stop on MN to catch up with those who really count and then back to Colorado.