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Meeting the Gorgeous People of Batam

May 15, 2015 1 Comment

Friday, 15th May 2015

We are on an island called Batam. Still Indonesia. We are only 25kms, by sea, from Singapore, but at the minute, we may as well be on a different planet.

We all successfully crossed from Sumatra, not without commercial and police, bribery, corruption, and extortion. But we are physically and mentally safe and sound.

In fact, the girls having accomplished the boat journey have a real spring in their step!

We’re behind schedule, but have informed the China connection, so they are modifying their arrangements.

Driving through the country is nothing like dropping in by plane. I have noticed, as you drive through, you sort of morph into the different areas and see slight variations in culture and building construction.

Making friends in Batam

Donna and our lovely new friend Luluisier

Almost everyone we have met have been really friendly and non-threatening. There have been a few interesting moments.

Across the indo islands, where it is village living, no one camps over here. So, when you set up camp, it can attract 20 people from the closest village. They want to watch you set up the rooftop camper and cook. What do you eat? What does it taste like? You give them a taste.

Then they come back in the morning, with bananas, or some prepared food, as a return gift. Startling how these people who have less than we can imagine, still find the ability to give stuff away.

We have camped in many fields, a cemetery, a couple of roads. These roads have no traffic other than foot or motorbike. Also, palm oil plantations, coconut groves, and rubber plantations. We go a long way in the bush to get well away from the main road, but also, as far from a village as possible. They sleep in unlockable huts with thatched roofs, but ask us if we are scared to sleep in the bush!

One night we set up adjacent to a village. The kids were looking from a distance. So Lynn took a zoom photo, then went over and showed them. Well, that opened the flood gates. Villagers from everywhere. We let them taste our food, watch us set up, cook, etc. The kids climbed in our roof top camper. Then the best (only), English speaker invited us back to his house – 50m away. We sat and had tea, met his mum, (who was having a wash in the drain out the front at the time), met his kids, auntie, etc. etc. Then we went back to camp.

After they left our camp, we had tea and were fast asleep at say 10pm when the young, but broken English speaking man came back. He said we had a problem, and one of us needed to go to the government for a permit – right now.

I smelt a rat, but jumped on his motorcycle with him. We bobbled around 4 or so kms, to the Chiefs house. (The chief was the government!) The English speaker said the chief was worried about our safety, and wanted us to camp in his yard. No easy political solution here so we cycled back, broke camp, and went back to the chief’s yard. There were 20 people there, so we sat down, drank tea, the chief sat upright, and everybody waited on us while we ate nuts. All Muslim here, no booze. Then we set up the campers, but the chief wanted them under the lights so everybody in the village could see our vehicles as they passed. He was on the phone often, I could pick out “Australia” in the calls, any way more people came, for looks and photographs. We got to bed after midnight, but were up by 6am and took off. But the hospitality was unmistakeable.

The people are gorgeous and helpful.

There is a snack, its fried sliced banana, sometimes salty, sometimes sweet. Very tasty. Also, we’ve eaten deep fried banana, covered in diced cheese and chocolate. It’s very nice.

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  1. Andrew Winter says:

    Nice piece Alan. You are starting to get the hang of story telling. Suffice to say every time you mention miles per gallon I nod off. Say hello to Lynn for us.

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