Bakauheni > Solok (1117km by bus, 31h)

How is 31 hours travelling by airplane? Painful? Scary? Sooo long? Okay, so I will tell you how is 31 hours in an Indonesian bus! In fact, I don’t mind the time. Normally I just sleep the whole way like I’ve done between Kutoarjo and Merak. But this trip was kind of different. The traffic in Indonesia can be seen as crazy compare to modern countries. People drive everywhere even on the wrong side of the road but everything is going slow and fluent. The dangerous one are the buses. They always go as quickly as they can like they are doing a race! They have a copilot who wave his arm out of the bus to clear the road when needed. I think during that trip, the bus drove more on the right side than on the left haha.

The driver uses his horn all the time, ready to push the next car or scooter out of the road if he needs lol. Naturally, the road is not smooth but full of potholes, bumbs and other deformations. Few times during the race, everyone woke up (well, we had to) because the bus break suddenly. The seat of one of the passenger was not fixed enough in the ground and everytime the bus slowed down, the seat rockered onto the front one with the guy on it! I think half of the seats were broken in that bus. People sleep in various positions and I think I am too tall to imitate them. Good to be small sometimes ;-)

The ground was filled with rubbish as Indonesian doesn’t bother about rubbish bin. At each stop, when the bus was empty, someone cleaned roughly the ground by hand and made a pile justat the front of the stairs of the bus itself. So every stop area is covered with rubbish everywhere. The worse is : people are allowed to smoke inside restaurants, buildings AND buses! How awful is that!? 31 hours in that box, breathing death through a mask I had fortunately. The windows are opened but the air coming from outside is just so polluted by all those cars, scooters and especially old trucks who let behind them a dark, thick smoke which is not inviting at all. Most if the men smoke here, I would say 90%. Only few woman do but finally all do it because of these situations. I think about the kids who grow up in this deadly environment. This is sad…

The first few stops, I stayed in the bus. I was still pissed off with the guy who made me pay so much for this trip. I did not want to spend anymore money, even to eat. A guy in the bus told me few times to go out and eat something. He saw I did not feel very well. The first time when I got out, I was definitely the only “white ass” in the area. Eyes were looking at me. I could here “buley” here and there which is the word Indonesian people use to describe the white people. I don’t know what does it mean exactly because white is “Putih” in Indonesian. Well, I don’t feel unwelcome at all but there is just that little pressure of hundred people watching you :-). I get some food and make sure I keep an eye on the bus because I’ve got no idea how long we stop each time. The price in Sumatra seems to be more expensive than Java. Or it’s just because I’m white, I don’t know…

The toilets are another piece of experience. Those rest area welcome a big amount of bus everyday and night. The staff does not really clean them I guess. They certainly through a bucket of water some times but that’s all. And they collect 2000 ruphia for this. I don’t why… The doors do not close very well or even don’t, simply. It’s smelly and the water we use to wash ourself seems as dirty as the rest. How can people resist to this everyday. I am travelling and I don’t mind living this way because I know it’s temporary but why they don’t try to improve the place. No money? I don’t believe that. The walls in the toilets are dirty. The bucket you use to collect water is dirty. Why they don’t wash them with soap and a brush? 2000 ruphia multiply 50 bus per day allow them to buy a lot of soap. My main concern is, how women resist to that? They are more sensible usually too dirtyness right? I don’t get it. The good thing in Indonesia is that you can take a shower everywhere to feel fresh (especially for the one who pray). But why don’t they keep these very important places clean? That is the question…

The worse start when everyone start walking back in the bus. Each guy light a cigarette, the driver comes back and start the smelly engine waiting for everyone. Being outside or inside doesn’t make any difference so I put my masks (one for the eyes and one for the mouth and nose) and wait until we go, especially until the polluted air flows in the bus. Once we are back on the road again, the unfixed seats star their dance again. The guys keep changing their seat but each one has a good and bad side haha. Mine, the back seat is unlocked. When I tried to adjust it, it broke. Now if I don’t put my weight on the back seat, it flips itself back to the bottom seat lol. What is that bloody broken bus!? haha. Few!

And for more than 30 hours it has been the same story : bumpy racing bus, horning everyone, smoking box, filling seats, dirty rest areas and fortunately friendly people that keep smiling and helping above all of that. That’s a bus trip in Sumatra. Now I am confused of what is coming :-) Maybe I should have been cycling until Merak, visiting all Java in details and then travel through Sumatra in one time straight to Dumai to get the ferry. Let’s see!

One thought on “Bakauheni > Solok (1117km by bus, 31h)

  1. Awful experience…. I would hate the smoky bus and the toilet.
    Once I got sick from man’s armpit smell who was holding the ring next to me.
    I have a good idea about rubbish. People are religious in those country. If their religious leader say something about “throwing rubbish is a sin” or “bad Karma”, then they will take it more seriously. :-) still need a system to support.

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