It’s the rudest wake-up call imaginable. Through the darkness at some God-awful hour of the morning it hits you: Muslim prayers wailing out across the city from the local mosque. I curse and bury my head under the pillow, contemplating how often it would happen at home before there was a murder. But I’m not at home; this is my welcome to another day in Indonesia.
I’m on the road today – travelling on to explore another horizon. I didn’t sleep much after the verbal torture from the mosque so it’ll be a long day. I take my toiletries down the hallway to the shared bathroom of my guesthouse. The mirror is too short but I bend to examine myself in it. I look tired and need a shave but it can wait.
The bathroom is a typical ceramic tile arrangement – a large bucket filled with water and a plastic scoop floating in it. Beside it is a hole that requires a well-balanced squat to take care of business. The cool water is refreshing and I feel better. After finding a clean t-shirt, I stow everything in my pack and hoist it onto my back. I am ready.
Although it’s still early, the sun is climbing quickly as I step out into the heat and dust of the street. The air is filled with excited voices, engines, car horns and a dog barking. Vehicles weave around in a rather chaotic effort to avoid each other. Food vendors are setting up their stalls for the day under faded umbrellas. In a nearby house a man is lying under a tree watching his half-dressed child playing and chickens scratching around in the dirt.
I wave down a Toyota van modified with mag wheels, bright coloured stickers and large subwoofers to thump out the tunes. This is an angkot: public transport Indonesian style. It’s cramped inside but fun riding these things with the locals. They are among the friendliest people I’ve ever met. You’re always greeted with a smile and made to feel welcome.
I admire the driver’s skill in constantly doing several things at once. While negotiating a frightening mass of traffic, he needs to watch for passengers on the edge of the road, answer questions, accept payment, count out change, smoke a cigarette and answer his phone. Watch one of these guys in action before assuming it is only woman who can multi-task!
The bus terminal is the usual chaotic mass of diesel spewing monsters coming and going. A tout playing ‘spot the tourist’ pounces before anyone else has the chance to get to me. He excitedly leads me to a bus for my destination and helps sling my pack up to a boy on the roof. I pray that he secures it well and take a seat. Within minutes I can see the ground moving through a rusty hole in the floor and I’m on my way.
Another adventure awaits me and I can’t wait to enjoy it!