On the road again! My Spanish travel buddies joined in for an adventure – we’re going to Ketambe, a rain forest where you can see Orang Utans surrounded by untouched nature.
As we left Pulau Weh we had to find a driver and also a car which takes us to Ketambe. Shouldn’t be that hard. At the central bus stop in Banda Aceh we found a guy to offered us to take us all the way down to Ketambe. I mean, we told him to take us there. He seemed to be a bit unsure, but yeah we hopped on the bus and we started driving. After twelve hours (!) of driving we stopped at a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. I checked my GPS, it said it’s another eight hours to Ketambe. Fuck!! All of us were super stressed and exhausted. And then it happened: the driver got our luggage off the car and just disappeared. Now we‘re standing here. No one was on this parking lot except us and a few young guys lurking around. Nice one!
They started to get a bit curious about us three bule (Indonesian for pale skinned people). They asked us where we want to go and started laughing! Haha! Yeah, we laughed as well since the situation was so desperate and we didn’t know what to do. Suddenly more and more people came to look at us and we were surrounded by almost twenty people. We didn’t know what to do and also we couldn’t understand them.
A few moments later a girl walked up to us, laughing, and told us to come with her. She spoke English quite good and offered to us to stay at her friends place. She asked Saray and Adrian if they’re married – of course they replied „no“! Not being married here means you can’t stay in the same room as a couple. Also no kissing or other PDA‘s.
We had to split up. Adrian and me followed her (male) friends to their house and we crashed there. It was like couchsurfing. But without a couch. We slept on the floor. Saray came with the girls – she can’t sleep where the boys are staying. After an hour we met up again and invited them for some food in their local restaurant.
It was hilarious. The karaoke contest (which was taking place at this time) found a sudden end as we walked in, because the white guys were here and in the spotlight! Yes, it felt uncomfortable.
The next day started early. Very early. Our room was located directly next to a mosque with a really good PA speaker system. As we had to sleep on the floor my neck was wrecked. But hey, nothing a good coffee and a Nasi Goreng can’t cure.
After breakfast we went for some hikes around the Takengon Highlands. It was amazing to see the nature and also to get involved in the local culture. They also helped us to book a bus to Ketambe.
What I learned from the people we met? Even though they didn’t know us they offered us a place to stay. Even though they didn’t speak English very well they tried to make conversation. Even though we are not used to it, we just adapted to their surrounding and learned so much about their lifes. I really want to pass that on and offer travelers in the same situation a place to sleep when I get a chance.
After a bumpy 8h ride to Ketambe we finally arrived where we wanted to be. Our hosts cooked the best dinner and we packed our stuff for the next day adventure – hiking trough Sumatra’s Rainforest. There you can see wild orang utans. As they are wild and not kept in captivity or fed you shouldn’t have any (or too high) expectations.
The rainforest was amazing. I don’t think I need any more words to describe what we saw…
To put it in a nutshell: It was a great trip through Sumatra. I was quite surprised that traveling takes that much time there. In every village we stopped on the way for food or toilet, the people were really friendly and welcoming. We also should be more open to tourists in our countries, don’t you think?
Have you been to Sumatra yet? What do you think about spending a few days in the rainforest far away from civilization? Tell me your opinion in the comments below!