Journey to France: Day 42 (11th March 2016)

Our host in Lampung, Adi, and his family reminded us on a daily basis to take trains and buses and to not hitchhike. They mentioned of their previous couchsurfers (male ones) and how they hadn’t taken their advice into consideration and got robbed by the very people they hitchhiked with. We spent 5 days with them deciding what to do. When they told us we couldn’t sleep in the same room let alone the same bed we initially planned to spend a day or two maximum at his house. We had never spent a night apart since the day we met. Even during our arguments we had never let one go to bed without the other.

But Adi and his family were more than  accomodating and we ended up spending 5 days with them. The days were hot and dusty but Adi was always up to take us to spots around Lampung that he was excited to share. To be honest there weren’t any amazing sights to see but you don’t always find an attachment to a place because of the place. (More details to come in next post).

Adi’s mother was constantly feeding us South Sumateran food; mostly mi goreng, tempe with a bit of chilli due to Clem’s intolerance for the vegetable, and nasi uduk for breakfast. Otherwise it was constant various snacks made from tubular vegetables such as yam and tapioca. And of course coffee!

His parents were delighted to have their first traveller who could converse with them. They knew nearly null English and although my Malay was probably scraping beginners, they still took opportunities to indulge in conversation with me and brought me to their friends to “kongsi cerita” (share stories). Their home itself was unique, i had never seen one like this  before, though im unsure if their home is standard in Southern Sumatera. There was no stove top, they used coal to heat their water in their ‘kitchen’ which seemed to have been built around an authentic well.

In the well, his mother rares fish to consume the mosquito larvaes. The water then gets siphoned by a pump into the bathroom. The bathroom is a standard Indonesian toilet or better known as Turkish toilets in the western world. All in all, the house wasn’t anything lavished but it had its own flavour.

At night, the rituals were to burn mosquito coils in every room and rub insect repellent lotion on your ankles. I said goodnight to my love and went to my room to sleep. I awoke again at about 1am as i was feeling too hot to sleep and the mosquitoes were much hungrier and vicious tonight. I was waking up to a new bite everytime I had managed to stop scratching the previous. I went out to get a glass of water.

Adi and his family were awake too and in the living room. They had been feeling feverish and Adi’s dad was performing twp traditional methods of healing the body from such feelings. He was performing a cupping massage on Adi’s back where he lights a coal on Adi’s skin and quickly covers it with a cup so the flame quickly loses oxygen and dies out, creating heat and suction inside the cup. When he pulls off the cup they believe it to “tarik angin” (pull the excess wind) our of the body. It leaves a red ring on the skin that disappears in an hour or so. Prior to that he also performed a coin scratching method where you scratch orderly lines on parts of your body. The marks left are red, like a scratch except they usually scratch the same area over and over again until the skin gets sore.

I drank my glass of water and went back to bed. At about 4am i woke up again. I was feeling very nauseas, I stumbled my way in the darkness to the bathroom. Not even a second passed before my gut reflexes activated and heaved my dinner out. The familiar burning feeling when you have just had stomach acid passed through your oesophagus and throat was spicily unpleasant but from experience i knew I would start feeling better now… I just need to go back to sleep.

I had to walk past Clem’s room before arriving at mine, but didn’t feel like sleeping alone and was being a sook. I pushed the door into Clem’s room. He had a small fan in his room so it wasnt as hot. He was also fast asleep on the little bed. I was like a caterpillar. I crawled into the bed, next to him, nuzzed and curled up in his warmth.

My stirring around woke him up. He asked me what was wrong as he kissed me and I told him I was feeling sick. He brought me water, a bucket and more kisses and hugs until i eventually fell asleep again.

Two weeks after we had met, Clem had said to me he wanted to have children with me. He had never in his life wanted to have children before. I told him at that time I still didn’t want to have any. 5 months later my views have changed.

Below are photos of parts of Adi’s house. 1st is the small 1m x 1m courtyard where they also cook and boil their water. 2nd is the kitchen area and well. Photography by my ClĂ©ment Duliege.

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Journey to France: Day 38 (7th March 2016)

The ferry from west Java to South Sumatera took much longer than we thought. We were making good time with our hitchhiking, we made it to Merak port at about 2pm and hopped on the 2.45pm ferry which was 13,000 IDR per person.

We expected to reach Lampung port at 4pm, we didn’t arrive until about 6 or close to 7. We wanted to jump off right away to try and catch the cars on the ferry before they left, however, the ramp for passengers to get off took much longer than the ramp dor the cars. We watched helplessly from the ferry, as all the cars started driving off the ferry ramp onto the roads. All our chances of hitchhiking to lampung dropped dramatically. Clement was starting to unload profanities and i was starting to get worried from seeing him stressed.

When we could finally get off the ferry (thankfull we already prepared our sign) we headed straight to the exit of the ferry terminal, all the way past all the angkuts (Indonesian mini vans that acted as public transport though the system still seems very much the opposite of ad hoc), and started holding up our sign for the last few remaining cars that were leaving the carpark.

Only a couple of cars stopped for us and those that did wanted money from us. The last car that stopped was asking for 100,000IDR from each of us so we said no and continued holding up our sign. By this time we were gaining the attention of a fair few Indonesian by standers. They were hovering over us and our backpacks, and from the stories we have heard about Sumatera, my legs and arms were like recoiled springs, ready to spring after or latch out to anyone who tries to touch our belongings and run away. But I was wrong, in fact they must have taken pity on us for a couple of them went up to the last driver who stopped for us and must have convinced him to change his mind and take us to Lampung city for free.

The man started unloading the back of his car to make room for our backpacks. We were hesitant at first to go in as less than 5 minutes ago, the same man was asking us for money or else he wouldn’t take us. On top of that everyone else was just telling us to get in the car. I asked the man why he changed his mind about the payment. He just replied with a smile “dont worry about it” (all this took place in Indonesian of course).

There was nothing suspicious looking about his smile or his tone or even his choice of words. Perhaps he just saw an opportunity to make money and tried to, and seeing it failed, decided to help us anyway. Plus he had a friend in his car who was also going to Lampung city, whereas he and his family were going to Palembang which was much further out. We were pretty lucky.

The family turned out to be much nicer than we predicted. They shared their “gorengan” snacks with us (litterally translates to and is fritters/the noun to fried). Gorengan can be bananas, tofu, vegetables, etc that has been dipped in batter and deep fried. Deep fried food is a staple in Indonesia as it is the cheapest and easiest way to make food instantly taste better than it can be in it’s original form. Plus in most of South East Asia, and I reminisce my earlier years growing up in Malaysia, SEA citizens enjoy having something crunchy with their meals. Deep fried foods are he easiest way to achieve that as baking isn’t as convenient and cooking oil is relatively cheap as palm oil plantations are in abundance in this region.

We got to Lampung city safely where we met up with our host. His family prepared for us more gorengan and Indonesian coffee (meaning it was very sweet). We were so excited to turn into bed and to fall asleep in each other’s arms only to be told by our host that as his parents like to uphold some of their Islamic tradition, meaning we could not sleep in the same bed, or he same room together…

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Journey to France: Day 37 (6th March 2016)

Our couchsurfing host picked us up and completely spoilt us with delicious Indonesian food.

Clem had looked up natural attractions along the Bandung area and found one that particularly stood out. It was called Kawah Putih (white crater). It was a sulphur lake, with natural waters streaming into the suplhur pool emitted by the volcanoes. Clem has seen a couple of volcanoes in his time, ive yet to at least be in a 10km radius to one. So we decided to head there.

Our host, Reyner, was gracious enough to drop us at a bus station where we could take a bus to Ciwidek and from there change buses to the Kawah Putih entrance. The minibus was 12000IDR per person so it was about $1.40 AUD. We could afford that, plus the driver was honest with the price and didnt try to ask for more from us. Being seen with a Caucasian in Asia means you get a lot of attention, both good and bad. Most of the time ill begin speaking Indonesian with a us driver or shop owner and the moment they see my fiancé they immediately swap to terrible, terrible broken English and heir attitude changes to a very fake, hospitality attitude. And they also gve outrageous prices for the service, thinking we must have money due to the power of a western country currency.

But this bus driver was honest. The minibus had 10 seats including the driver seats, we somehow had 15 people in the van, including the driver. We had 14 when we left the bus station and i thought, cool its Indonesia , they wont leave till the bus is full. But then along the way the bus stopped for another lady and her big bag. Asia is remarkable! It honestly makes me proud in a way as its so comical of asian culture to sacrifice comfort for efficiency first. Unless you’re wealthy of course, then you can afford both.

When we arrived at the bus terminal in Ciwidey, we were swarmed with “taxis” and “bus drivers” even before our minibus stopped. They all knew right away that we were probably going to Kawah putih. We ignored the flock of harrassing drivers and made it to the actual bus stop where a minibus was waiting to fill up it’s last remaining seats. There were a mix of Indonesians and Caucasians in the bus.

Travelling in Indonesia has taught us to always ask the price first before getting into any vehicle or accepting any food/service. Clement asked them repeatedly what the price was, but the men (we didnt know who they were as the driver was already in the van) kept trying to get him to get in the van. He asked for the 5th time before I raised my voice in Indonesian, “berapa harganya?”. He again tried to push us in the van and i asked again. He at first said 14,000IDR per person and his friend spoke Sundanese really quickly to him and he then said 20,000IDR each. I asked the Indonesians taking the minibus if that was the price they paid and they refused to reply. I knew they understood me as they were having a conversation with me prior to my question.

Yeap, we were pissed off and just walked off. They yelled back at us to come back but we kept walking. We had hitchhiked enough times in the past 2 weeks to know that we could easily get a ride to where we needed to be. So for the firsttime in our trip, Clem and I looked at each other and both agreed without doubt that hitchhiking was how we would do this. We would definitely not be taking any of these minibuses, unless we met a driver just as honest as the last.

On our way out to the main road, an informal yellow minibus (only the green and yellow ones were actually on route to Kawah Putih and Lake Patenggang) stopped us and offered to take us for 20,000IDR too and we said no, he then quickly dropped his price to 15,000IDR.

We kept walking. I asked for an old box so we could write our sign on. There was a man in uniform, i believe he was directing traffic in that intersection, who we started chatting with. He saw we wrote “numpang gratis” and realised we were hitchhiking. He asked why didnt we just take the bus? I said it was because the drivers were dishonest. They refused to disclose their prices and then said it was 20,000IDR each. The man in uniform said it was 8000IDR on weekdays and 10000IDR on weekends. The prices the driver gave us were way wrong.

The man in uniform must have also felt sorry for us because he also helped us to wave vehicles down to stop for us. He waved down a large ute and asked the family in it if they could take us up the hill towards Kawah Putih and they said yes!

We happily hopped in the back. I hoped the bus driver from earlier saw us and that he would be greening with envy for he lost two customers.

The man who gave us a lift went the extra mile for us. It seemed all Indonesians that we hitchhiked with were doing as such. They really went out of their way to look after us and to make sure we were safe. This is our experience in Java anyways. For a country with 300 million people or so, they seem to value the life of another. Well these are the ones that helped us anyways.

This man took us 15 minutes further than his destination to drop us right at the entrance of Kawah Putih. We took a photograph with his family. (Im sure it was because of Clement). Next we had about a 10km hike up the mountain to the crater itself. We had been fed so much deliciouz food yesterday, the hike was happily welcomed. On the way up however, we had a car stop for us to give us a lift up as they said it was far and tiring to walk. The lift was happily welcomed too!

Being at Kawah Putih was amusing, it seemed my fiance was more of the main attraction than the actual crater. Locals kept coming up to him to take a photograph with him. The crater’s lake itself was an amazing light aquamarine blue. The smell of sulphur wasnt that strong but every now and then the winds would push a cloud of smoke towards us and you inhale a significant amount of gas that irritates your throat enough to cough. We didn’t need masks though and we spent about an hour or more there.

It wasnt quite the strenuous hike i had in mind, but it was beautiful especially sharing the experience with the love of my life.

It’s amazing how quickly humans can adapt to their situations and surroundings. When we left the crater, i had no doubt in my mind that we would be able to hitchhike our way to our host’s home, or to a landmark anyway.

It took us only 3 cars to get back home. Everyone was friendly and again tried to gaive us money and offered to take us around the area. I was so exhausted i just wanted to head home, also the other attraction in the area didn’t really fascinate us.

I had broken sleep the night before, we woke up at 7am that morning, and speaking a second language after not using it for 8 years was draining me so much. On top of that verbally fighting off the flocks of “taxi” drivers and speaking loudly over the sound of traffic took the energy out of me.

Even after our 7000IDR delicious and generous portioned lunch wasnt enough to regain my energy.

When we got back our host took us to the top of a hill over looking Bandung city for some Sundanese food.

I’m not sure when we will be able to sleep well, shower, and eat this well again. It has only been about a month since we had stayed somewhere long enough to become vegetables, but I am starting to miss it very much.

Today we are hitchhiking to Merak from Bandung to catch a ferry to Sumatera. Everyone has been telling us what a dangerous place provinces in Sumatera can be, especially Lampung (where the ferry port is) and Riau. I was so nervous i tired myself to sleep last night.

We had two options, to either take the highway which joins to cities like Palembang, Pekanbaru and Medan, or to take the west roads which meant going through mountains and little towns or villages. We have another couch surfing host in Lampung so we will just ask him for his advice when we get there. Sumatera is over twice the size of Java! We wouldn’t want to stay in a dangerous province for too long.

I was told to keep my necklace and ring away when we get the re to not tempt thieves who can and may stop you at knifepoint/gunpoint. This isnt me being dramatic, this was words we received from nearly every Javanese we spoke to when we asked about Sumatera. One Javanese who gave us a lift and fed us bread and juice advised us to take the western route. Even if they are small roads, it would be safer to go through villages as the western population have Javanese residents who have purchased land there to become farmers.

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Journey to France: Day 36

I remember those late nights when I used to cuddle into my doona (Australian term for a comforter/continental quilt if you must) and stay up late chatting to my friends on WhatsApp or Facebook chat. I used to wake up drowsy the next morning, and rush myself to work, smiling to myself thinking it was well worth the late night chat as I reply to messages I’ve missed because I had fallen asleep.

When we were in Bali, a friend of mine who is originally from Indonesia but now lives in Rwanda said she was coming to Indonesia for a short trip. She invited us to a wedding.

Hence since our arrival in Java, we were to cover 1040kms to get from Banyuwangi (East java) to Bandung (West Java) that’s about a 20 hour drive in Indonesian traffic. We had 4 days.

To summarise we made it earlier than expected in technically two days. We spent 2 nights in the Yogyokarta region.

Next we have to cover double the kms. About 2000kms of it and a 42 hour drive + ferry from Bandung. ClĂ©ment was researching hitchhiking in Sumatra and read a post about a backpacker motorbiking in one part and village children threw rocks at him. Back in Mt Merapi near Yogyakarta, our CS (couch surfing) host warned us that the area of Lampung and Palembang were “dangerous”. There had the heaviest crime rates reported in all of Indonesia. We will just have to see how we go on this leg of the journey. We still have hopefully two more nights in Bandung.

Today, after a comfortable sleep in probably the only hotel bed we would ever experience on our trip, (Ncep paid for our night here), we attended her best friend’s cultured and humble wedding. It was a small Muslim wedding with the ceremony held in a Mosque ( Masjid Agung Al-Ukhuwwah). There were not more than 300 people who attended and the bride was gracious enough to allow her to bring Clem and I who have never met her before. The older ladies were fascinated to see ClĂ©ment (a tall, Caucasian Male) at this event. They started taking pictures of and/or with him.

Indonesians never cease to amaze me with their generous hearts and sweet nature. To think countries such as Malaysia and Brunei treat them as
second class world citizens is heartbreaking but thats the truth of it all and living in Malaysia for the first 17 years of my life, I’ve heard and seen such treatments.

This evening we await our CS host for tonight. We’ve sent him messages but so far no response..

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Journey to France: Day 34

A brief summary of the day before we arrived in Bandung. We were in Yogyakarta and started to find a car to hitchhike to Bandung. This was probably the first difficulty we had experienced yet. No one would stop for us, we were in a the middle of a city, it was 10kms to walk out of the city centre and 30kms to get out to the main road that would lead to Bandung. Either way it was nearly unwalkable with our backpacks and the heat. We moved from one Street to another, holding our sign the whole time and still no one stopped for us.

It was about to start raining and Clem and I were getting agitated with each other. It didn’t seem like the day was going to go well at all. It didn’t seem like we would get to Bandung.

Just as we were about to put our sign down and try to walk further out of the city, when a man in a red shirt approached us. His English wasn’t very solid so I translated. He said he saw us nearly 20 minutes or so a go on a different Street. He saw we didn’t get far and he happened to pass us again after he picked his daughters up from school.

“I want to help you”, he said. He offered to buy us train tickets to Bandung. At first we politely declined. We couldn’t accept it. And then he said we had two choices, either he takes us to a train station and buys us tickets, or he gives us money and leaves us where we were.

Neither was an option we wanted to take from a stranger. It was much too kind! It was unbelievable! Not too long ago, a lady picked us up just outside Solo. She bought us coconuts and coffee. She was meant to drop us off as far as her journey allowed, so we could continue hitchhiking to Yogyakarta. Suddenly she turned around and said she wanted to take us to a bus station instead, and to pay for our bus tickets too which she did.

In this scenario we didn’t want to take money from this really kind hearted man. So we agreed to be taken to a station. We took photos with his really sweet daughters, both gave us keychains that they had for a long time. It wasn’t a special present of any sort but just like their father’s example they wanted to give us something too. They even wrote us a little note to carry with us on our journey.

Henry bought us our tickets and took us to the train station. When he dropped us off he had some notes in his hand. He took ClĂ©ment’s hand and pushed the notes into his hand. Clem said we couldn’t accept this, I mean he paid for our train tickets already. But Henry would not take no for an answer and pushed the notes into ClĂ©ment hand again.

We got out of the car and kissed them goodbye. We looked at the notes he gave us. It was 100,000IDR. It made Clem feel guilty for taking that money. But that’s what kindness is isn’t it? It doesn’t stop with just one person, it is to be paid forward without the expectation of paying it forward. It must have made Henry and his family feel good to have helped us.

We would have done the same for someone else in our situation if we had the leverage to.

Today as we were lying on the floor of a Mosque in between the wedding, ClĂ©ment turned to me and said the way we travelled was much better than how he previously had travelled. I asked him why he said that? We couldn’t afford accommodation and we had to also count our micro-cents each time we had to buy food, we didn’t even buy the train tickets initially as we didn’t want to spend the money in case we needed it for our travels.

He pressed his forehead close to mine and said it was because this way we met people. This way we saw more places that we wouldn’t have heard of. This way we didn’t just experience places, we really experienced human kindness.

And he was 100% right.

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Journey to France: Day 31

We stepped off the ferry from Bali onto Java on the 29th of February. We checked the time on the ferry and it showed 6pm but we havent even reached the port yet. Clément said he was concerned hitchhiking would be too difficult once it gets dark. I recalled reading that Java was on a different time zone (an hour behind Bali) so it was 5pm in Java still and we would still have enough time when we arrived to at least get one ride. When we got down however, we saw the street lights were already on and the sun was gone from the sky.

Only a bit of dusk light was leftover and it wasnt going to last long. We had some food while contemplating if we should set up tent for the night or try hitchhiking anyway. We looked around. It was a one road street and all along it were shops or houses or some sort of construction that didnt leave us enough room for even to place a sleeping bag. It was looking bleak, we had no choice but to give hitchhiking a go.

We were exhausted. We had been awake since 7.30am as we were told we could get a lift to the airport in Bali at 8.30am. However we didn’t leave until probably 9.30am as the others were late to get ready. It didnt matter. It was still morning and we had a free ride to the airport at least.

Upon arrival we asked the person within the closest proximity to us where the bus station or bemo station was. He said there were no bus stations or bemos around. IT WAS AN OUTRIGHT LIE! And I was getting pretty sick of being lied to, being viewed as someone’s income instead of human being. Here we were, two backpackers asking someone for a bus station and they had the ill-minded mentality to lie to us.

I saw a security guard at the corner of my eye, someone who was paid by the airport and would have no intention for himself to lie to a tourist. I asked him the same question. He said yes there were both a bemo and bus station just outside the airport, not too far from where we were!

I turned back to the taxi driver who had lied to us and his friends and i yelled at them “Kamu semua pembohong!” (You are all liars).

They said nothing back.

Clement and I went off hand in hand in search of a bemo. We reached the outside of the airport and was stopped by someone again, someone who was a motorbike driver. He asked where we were going. We said to a bemo station and we werent interested in a ride. He said to us the bemo station was really far. I was preparing myself for him to sell his transport service but to my surprise he didnt. In fact he told us a bus would be passing by really soon from where we were standing and it wouldn’t cost us more that 7000IDR to get a ticket to a bemo terminal where the bemo to Gilimanuk (where the ferry to Java would be departing). Bemos had terminals in Bali and each bemo had specific terminals they would arrive and depart from.

The man who helped us with the bus was from Lombok, not Bali he explained, and he never felt it was right to convince or lie to people to sell a service. He was not going to be a salesman that was for sure, but he would restore faith in humanity in his own little way.

We hopped on the bus, it wasnt a proper bus stop, we waved it down. This was a blue bus that departs from the international terminal and it has white outlines of skyscrapers on it’s sides. There was traditional Balinese music being played on the bus. The lady who was playing the music off her phone was happy to share her music with me.

When we got to the bemo station we were shocked to find out that the bemo was going to cost more than we initially thought. We expected to pay 35000 IDR maximum per person. The price was 50000IDR each! The driver said it was because of our backpacks too as bemos were small and our backpacks easily took up the space of 3 seats. (Indonesians had very small frames).

I thought for sure we were being tricked again ablut the price. But i was tired, i wasn’t keen to try hitchhiking in a place like Bali. I looked at Clem and i was sure he didn’t want to pay the price so I said, it’s okay I would pay for it. I was also still sore with him about the night before in Kuta where he spend about 120000 IDR or more on cigarettes and alcohol, but he was counting money for transportation. We had different prioritisations on what we would spend money on.

We got on the bemo and paid the fare. It was going to be a 2 hour ride we were told. It must have been much longer than that as about an hour in, the bemo broke down. We were the last 2 remaining passengers and in a place like Bali i was afraid , being seen as tourists, that for sure the driver would just tell us too bad and tell us to find our own way. Thankfully he didn’t, he called another bemo driver who was also droving to Gilimanuk to stop where we were to take us. The rest of the ride was smooth sailing.

That was the whole of our morning and afternoon.

After our meal, we prepared our hitchhiking sign. “BANDUNG, NUMPANG GRATIS” was what we wrote. The night before i googled hitchhiking in Indonesia for some tips and a reliable website (insert link later) told us including the word gratis was very important as it meant free. In Indonesia if you asked people if you could “numpang” (hitchhike/hop on board) you will get people who will stop for you, however they will ask for money.

We waited for no less than 20 minutes when a truck driver stopped for us. He had just finished work and was on his way back to his village which was about 6 hours away from where we were and we could hop on board and he could take us as far as we could go, close to Surabaya. He hopped into his high truck and there was some room, though not much, behind the seats.

The driver’s name was Koko. He said he stopped for us because he felt sorry for us. He thought we had no money and he knew for sure not many people would have stopped for us. We struggled to find a comfortable position to sleep behind the seats. It was going to be a very long drive and as we didnt know when we would get our next ride it would have been smart for us to sleep.

I fell asleep several times but not for long as each part of my body was constantly aching. I looked at Clem and he was struggling so much more to sleep. His eyes were red. I was about to say something to him and then my eyes dropped and I drifted into a deeper sleep that time.

We got woken up because Koko wanted to get some food, he woke us up and insisted we sat down with him to eat. We weren’t hungry and we werent looking to spend money on luxuries such as eating when we weren’t hungry. It wasnt a healthy habit for the body to that anyway. But Koko insisted. He asked the lady to fill up a plate of rice and pushed it to us so we had no choice but to fill it up. We shared a plate between us. He paid for our meal and bought us water and biscuits.

We were soon to learn that hitchhiking in Java would be relatively easy and those that stop for us really looked after us so well. It wasn’t just because Clement is caucasian and it wasnt because i could speak Bahasa Indonesia. It was the way of their culture. Its the way they are to help others when they have the capacity to.

Koko wanted to take us to the train station and buy us train tickets direct to Bandung! He was a truck driver and has a wife and a child. We could not have accepted the extent of his kindness nor did we fathom the extent either. So he dropped us off at an intersection as he was going a different direction and had to part with us. It wasnt more than an hour until a car with 6 young Indonesians stopped for us and took us to Surabaya. Before they arrived we had several people stopped out of curiosity to ask where we were going. They rarely see anyone hitchhiking with a sign let alone two interracial backpackers. One group of 3 on a motorbike stopped to take a photo with us. We obliged. Then the man requested something a bit out of the ordinary. He looked at Clement and asked “boleh turunkan?” He touched ClĂ©ment’s stomach and touchee his female friend’s stomach after. I wasn’t sure if i understood him correctly and asked what did he mean?

“My friend wants to get pregnant but she can’t (he didn’t say why), would he like to help her out?” (He asked in Indonesian)
I raised my voice at him in shock and partially laughing at the audacity of it. “This man is my fiancĂ©!”

He repeatedly apologised and then left as abruptly as his question was strange.

The 6 youths that stoped for us took us into Surabaya and a bit out of it. It was 2am when they picked us up and 3am when they dropped us off. It seems the traffic never ends on the mainroad in Java and there were food stalls (warung) and convenience stores open. The youths asked for a photograph too. We must seem quite the novelty. They left us at a petrol station as that qas the furthest they could take us that wasnt too out of their way. We slept in front of the petrol station for a few hours.

At 7am or so we woke up and resumed our journey. We waited for perhaps 20 minutes for a car to stop. Again many people on bikes stopped to quench their curiosity. A couple of them stopped to give us advice. One man even offered to give us money!! He offered to give us 100000IDR each. We declined the really kind offer. The man said if he saw us at the same place when he gets back he would then help us. But not long after he left, a man stopped for us.

He was on his way to work. He goes from town to town selling metal for his supplier. He took us as far as Magetan which was about 5-6 hours drive. We talked ahout languages and countries and cultures.

I havent hitchhiked for very long but I can see why ClĂ©ment, and every other hitchhiker I’ve met, enjoys it. To say you meet people is an underestimation. You really do get to connect with people. Especially in such a long drive. And i think the connection is formed more when there is silence between people. It’s not always easy for strangers to keep conversation going, but it’s even harder to enjoy silence together. And the unspoken, assumed trust between the hitchhiker and the driver was a relationship that was completely new to me, but it was nice. Why do people have to prove trust to people? Why does society have to alwsys play this back and forth game when most people claim they dont even have the time of the day for their families?

Back in canberra once, when it was winter and raining, a colleague wouldnt even give me a lift to my car once which was only about 300m away from her car. Instead she handed me an umbrella and said “make sure you return it.” This was in a first world society where people had the mentality to spend their earnings on beers and excessive clothes, but to not offer 5 minutes to help someone down the road in the rain. Leaving Canberra was a blessing.

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