You couldn't make this s*** up. Padang was just terrible. Nothing happens there. Everyone wanted to be my friend but I wouldn't want to spend ny real time there to make any solid aquiantances. I am thoroughly disappointed by the food but it was always going to be comedown after malacca. i traipsed the streets for hours looking for something semi appetising to eat. I wasn't satisfied with the murtabak but it would have to do. Lonely Liar, where do you get off on giving out false information. I dont use you like a bible but it would be nice if you got your f***ing maps right. It's not too much to ask. Stop toying with me. I am not a giant locust. You are not a playful kitten. You are a b******. I f***ing hate you. But I'll carry on using you, building my case until I have enough to make you topple from a great height.
On the way back to the hotel, some kid (he was 20) who had just finished selling corn for the night decided that he would tag along so that he coulod improve his english. His english was ok but he thought that Michael Owen still graced Anfield. . I didn't have the heart to tell him that he left ages ago and was now squandering his career in Tyneside. Things got progressively weirder. He took me round a paqrk in the dark. I was either going to get mugged or b*****ed. I made a point of telling him I loved to fight. I don't like fighting at all but I tghought it might put him off.He told me that he was a flagbearer in the college marching band. he was obviously involved in some sort of adolescent identity crisis and I felt a bit sorry for him, despite some of the weird s*** he was saying. I think he was still trying to figure out his sexual orientation, as presumptious as that sounds. He talked about his girlfriend. he asked if I had one. he said I was very handsome and asked whether I 'want to try Indonesian woman'. I laughed nervously. Over a mango juice he asked why I had chosen padang. i said it was the cheapest way to get to Indonesia and he looked slightly bemused. I daren't tell him thatPdang was a s***hole and that i wished I was somewhere else. He then started putting me on the spot and asking me whether I thought Indonesians were terrorists. I had to draw a diagram to explain my already simplified answer.
He asked if he could stay in my room. I quickly blurted that it was tiny and that i would have to pay extra for another person in the room. He told me he only lived 100m away. What the f*** was he playing at? He didn't understand what i was saying so I had to supplement my answer with telling him that I had to get up early to get a bus to Buikittinggi. I think he got the message. he started walking very very cloise to me and I found myself walking into the middle of the road, my back to the the free flowing traffic. He kept grabbing my arm and pulling me back onto the pavement. I felt quite uncomfortable. On several occassions he asked me if I felt frightened of him. I wasn't frightened of him, I just didn't want to spend any time in indonesian prison for assault. Why did the hotel have to be so f***ing far away? We got to the room and he took off his shoes and just sat on the bed without asking if he could come in. I told him that I was very tired and that i would be going to bed in the next 10 minutes. I was starting to s*** myself now. The questions got stranger and I felt even more uncomfortable. he then asked me how many women i had slept with and how much I had paid. Cheeky f***er. I told him that i had never paid for that kind of thing and it wasn't really the done thing in the west. He told me I was very lucky. Was he a young homosexual, a rent boy or just genuinely inquisitive? He started talking about Thai ladyboys. I told him that the whole idea of chicks with d*** freaked the f*** out of me. I stood up, stretched and yawned expectantly. Thank god he took his cue and left. he made me promise that I'd come and visit him when I was back in Padang. Like f*** I would.
Breakfast in bed? i should f***ing think so considering the amount I was paying for what was essentially a s*** room. but it wasn't really breakfast and it definitely wasn't in bed. I had my soggy toast and cup of Sumatran swill on the wicker chair outside my room. The sugar and chocolaate sprinkles for my toast (presumable a dutch touch) were in tiny ziploc bags. the sugar looked like ready packaged coke all ready and wrapped up for some skank to snort it. There was also a boiled egg which I didn't touch.
I bought a ticket to Bukitttinggi with the aim of making it to Maninjau the next day. Padandg was a hole and I couldn't wait to get out. Ploughing our way through traffic I counted opelets (minibuses operating like bus/taxi crossovers) with disgustingly garish paint jobs, huge wheel arches and spoilers, pumping out ear bleeding drum and bass. Each was packed with schoolchildren, emo and punk kids with long sideswept fringes and motherly types on their way back from wherever. Public transport in Padang is just weird. Even the buses have huge pieces of graffiti down their sides, huge logos, slogans and random words like'machine gun'.
Indonesian driving rivals that of the Cambodians. Had I not experienced this before I would have s*** myself but instead I fell asleep, woke up in Bukittinggi and checked into a quite appalling hotel. I could taste the filfth and smell the damp in the room. I went to an internet cafe and spent 3 hours doing nothing. There is little to nothing to do in Bukittingi. How this used to be a popular spot on the backpacker trail I do not know. There is no character. It is the Wigan of Indonesia.
I sat down for dinner at a cafe and after the worst chocolate milkshake ever (no chocolate, no milk and probably no shake) i was joined by Claire. She reminded me a lot of a girl I used to go out with on and off through university. Claire was blonde, slightly better looking and Irish. She also has the ability to seesaw between whining and assertiveness. It was nice to have company. After a frankly s*** dinner and a good few beers with some strange locals, we decided to meet the next day and go to Maninjau.
Claire's hotel was locked but I managed to get over the gate and one of the huys opened up. My hotel was shut too but no one woke up. I got about 10 minutes dozing on the step. M anger turned to rage. I wanted to break the door down, I felt bad. I got let back into the htel at 6.30am and had a couple hours of sleep.
I packed my bag in haste and met Claire for breakfast; another terrible meal. We jumped in an opelet, shaking with the mandatory s*** drum and bass and went the long way to the bus station. Within 5 minutes, the heavens opened and rivers were flowing in the streets. the rain felt like golf balls on my skin. It was cold. it was hard. It was f***in wet. We got onto another bus, shivering with cold and waited another 40 minutes before we left the bus station. The conductor (in the very loosest terms) tried to persuade us to put our bags on the roof. We told him there was absolutely no wa this was happening an ended up paying for 2 tickets each. b******s. The bus had only left 5 minutes ago when the driver pulled up on the side of the road and didn't come back for about an hour. Was he having lunch? Taking a nap? Getting laid? We didn't know. We finally left about an hour later, the driver chain smoking as we sanaked our way round 42 hairpin turns. The lake looked impressive byt the town looked as though it would fall over with a stiff breeze. Things didn't get any better. I was feeling quite ill and Claire was getting frustrated with the lack of anything. We were having second thoughts.
We got off at some place that looked like it may be ope and trudged our way through the paddy fields to get to the entrance. The Indonesian woman who met us told us they were full. Claire looked like she was going to cry . how the f*** were they full? maninjau was dead? It looked luike nonoe had been there in 50 years. I went to get a coke and asked another bloke on the off chance if there were any rooms available. of course there were. The b**** was lying. The room was spartan but clean enough. The setting would have been beautiful if there had been any sunlight.
I ate as much bland Indonesian food as I could and played cards. The owner came of the guesthouse came round and spoke to us. he was nice enough. he expressed his desire to speak English in an english accent. I nodded in approval despite him sounding like Borat.
The following day we got up late and after a most unappelaing breakfast of pancakes we walked into the less than desirable town centre of Maninjau. i don't think travelling has really jaded me in any way; I have always been a bit cynical but the whole backpacker culture thing just annoys me. Its such a f***ing cliche. i suppose its like a lot of other sub cultures that have become so popular thet they have become mainstream themselves but still claim to be different. I am inclined to believe that backpacker culture, not backpackers themselves have contributed to the major watering down of local culture. But anyway, this cafe was serving typical backpacker food; pancakesa, western breakfasts, substandard sandwiches and s***ty versions of already dire Indonesian food. They also played jack Johnson on loop. Before I came away, I quite like Jack Johnson. I was a fan of Ben Harper. In the past 9 months, I'd say that 70% of the bars I have been to have played Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and a lot of f***ing Bob Marly. I f***ing hated reggae already but this backpacker culture has led to an intense dislike of 2 artists I previously thought were talented. Do I want to make banana pancakes and pretend that it's the weekend? No I f***ing don't.
It got to 2pm. The weather was grey, our prospects were bleak so we decided to hire a motorbike. We were ging to drive around the lake. It was something to do. I did all the driving cos Claire had never ridden a motorbike properly before. Didn't bother me although she was excepetionally paranoid about falling off. that would have been awkward.
Some of the ride was quite pretty despite the clouds and there not being any sunshine. We stopped for a drink at the roadside. Kids mimicked us. Cheeky but cute i suppose. It was 4pm so we decided it would bprobably be best to head back. The potholes and various bits and pieces in the middle of the road hadn't proved to be too much of a problem so far. It had all been relatively easy. And then God shat on us from a great height. It didn't rain, it f***ing poured. I was in a hoody and shorts. I went as far as I could. in half an hours time, we were stood under a shelter at some lay by. I was shiverring frantically and couldn't sop coughing. It looked bleak. I felt horrific. I tried to find it funny but at the back of my mind, I was slightly s***ting myself. Claire looked as though she might cry. After 45 minutes the rain subsided a bit. i bought a sheet of plastic off some bnloke to give me some protection and we got back on the bike. It would start to get dark soon. Twenty minutes later I heard a heavy clicking niose. It was really annoying me. Claire picked out what looked like a giant rubber band from the back wheel. I had no idea what it was. I don't know anything about motorbikes. We got back on and the bike started to wobble. Either the slick of water on the raod was causing the bike to wobble or me shivering was causing us to zigzag. i ignored it until it got ridiculous and I could hear that f***ing clicking noise again. we got off and inspected the bike again. we had a flat tyre. There was a puncture in the back wheel. Puncture is perhps the wrong word. There was a huge vertical gash down the middle of the tyre. We were f***ing f***ed. The sun, along with any enthusiasm we had was going down rapidly. we were still atleast 10 km away from maninjau town. f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f*** f***.
I made an executive decision. i should have joined MI5. We got back on the bike and drove at a snail's pace. ten minutes later, about 1km down the road, we got to a small village. We showed some kids and they couldn't stop laughing. I was freezing cold, we were 10kms away from the rental place, Claire was in hysterics. We were one mistake away from a serious accident. These kids were close to getting their f***ing spleens ripped out. Someone pointed us in the direction of maninjau. We pointed the tyre. they shrugged their shoulders. I feared that going any further with the 2 of us would cause the whole back tyre to split, leaving just the wheel rim. We paced up and down the road. Eventually, some guy offered to take Claire n his bike and follow me back to maninjau. It took 45 minutes We were an hour late. We didn't care. i drove ridiculously slowly. I didn't want to die today.
We were too tired to even pretend to be happy. I sat in the cafe while Claire emailed her boyfriend. And then it started f***ing raining again. This was getting ridiculous. We giot 2 blokes on motorbikes to drive us back to the guesthouse, 3km away. there were lakes in the middle of the road. The walk to the guesthouse is about 500m away from the road and it runs along a wide stream and paddy fields. the stream had turned into a raging motherf***er of an estuary. there was no keeping dry. I couldn't belive it. Claire fell in, waist deep. Luckily she got out sharpish but we both got stung by nettles. I had thought they were leeches and we both started freaking out.
The guesthouse didnt have hot water so we just dried ourselves off as best we could and got changed. we sat in the restaurant with the other guests; a group of dutch people who were discussing cradle of filfth's 'Jesus is a c*** and some horrific middle aged northern english guy with his Fillipino wife. The english guy was one of those stupid f***ers who pretends he's posh by replacing the first person with 'one' all the time. one travels the world. One has a house in manilla. One had to pay a fillipino woman to marry one. One is a balf self righteous f***. i didn't care what he was talking about. His voice annoyed the f*** out of me. I was seething from the days events and although shattered, I wanted to let off some steam by telling him he was a c*** That would have made me feel better.
The Borat like owner started flying foxes and monkeys and tried to persuade us to do a tour the next day. You must be f***ing joking. I felt like death.
We got the f*** out of maninjau the next day. I hated Bukittinggi but anywhere was better than maninjau. I had pretty much wasted 4 days in Sumatra. I booked a flight to Jakarta and then onwards to bali . f*** Javanese culture, I'm getting Seasonal Affective Disorder here.
The food was no better. Indonesian food is just terrible. How do they make it so bad? Some local kids asked me what i thought of the food. I told them it was terrible. I don't know why they like it. Its bland. Its s***. it does not inspire me. I don't know whether Rendang and satay really come from indonesia or malysia (I'll go with the latter) but the Indonesians really manage to f*** them up with aplomb. i have eaten excellent food throughout asia; at food stalls and small restaurants. Not in f***ing Indonesia. food sits here for days. not only dioes it taste terrible buit it will give you e coli.
For the first time since being away, I longed for western food. We found a place that did pizza. They had run out of f***ing cheese. No f***ing cheese??!!?? Are you f***ing kidding me motherf***er??!!??
Claire and I tried to pick ourselves up and do something. We met a couple of odd Canadians and went to a cave to see some bats. i tripped on a manhole, split my flip flops and nearly broke my face. The bats were thoroughly uninteresting.
On our final day in Bukittinggi we went back to the pizza place. Still no cheese. I went to the market and f***ing bought it myself. We had pizza and it was good. its strange saying that the best thing I have eaten in indonesia is pizza. A local painter came and sat with us. he is also some kind of psychic. I am a huge skeptic. i don't belive in any of that sghit despite avidly watching the Xfiles all the way through the 90's. A lot of the stuff he said was scarily true. Then he said that I might not have any kids. I s*** myself. I want 3. he also said that I should date younger women. i suppose I can live with that. he said that i would have many many relationships. he made me sound like a w****.He said that one day i would work for the government and become very artistic in later life. The last statement is probably bulls***. but he got so much of the other stuff about my past and current situation right that it scared the s*** out of me. he also got a lot right about claire. He decided to inform both if us that I don't $%^& very often in comparison to other guys... What kind of a psychic does that?
We went for a hike and gave up. Some local kid met us on the bridge and tooke photos of us.
'Where you from?'
'Really? You look Indo'
'I'm half Malaysian'
'What you name?'
'Ah! Like boxer!'
'You know, like boxer Oliver'
'Mike Tyson's friend'
'You also look like very famous Indian actor'
We got a minibus back to s***y Padang and checked into a cockroach infested hotel. Claire had one in her pyjamas.
She left in the morning for a flight to Medan. I was sad to see her go. I would have cracked had I been by myself. My flight is in 3 hours. Lots of indonesians ask me how I like their country. i don't want to lie anymore. I'm done with sumatra, for this year at least but I still holod out hope for bali and Nusa Tenggara. One more rough night in Jakarta airport and I'll be on the beach. Things can only get better. I hate Celine Dion.