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…