On the way to Aceh, it rained a lot. It was raining and already dark when I decided to stop at a petrol station. I asked them if I could stay a night there and they say it was okay. I then found out that the area is full of cheap bars where people get drunk and get girls to sleep with. When I was about to sleep, one guy came and tried to push over my bike. He failed because my bike is a four-wheeler, so he went away. Later, he came back and crashed his bike into my bike. I went out and try to talk to him but he ran away. I was shocked because I didn’t know anything about this guy and I started to worry about my bike. He came back again, this time with his friends, and I talked to him I asked him why he crashed his bike into mine. Basically, he wanted money from me because he is a local guy and said I should pay him for my stay. I refused to pay because I had already asked permission from the people who work at petrol station and they said I can stay there. So, I told him I am not scared of him because I didn’t do anything wrong and I said I was going to call the police. I didn’t have the police numbers so I asked on Facebook and the news spread fast and I got the police number from the bikers around the area. The police finally came and made sure he wouldn’t come back to bother me and then few bikers also came to check on me. That was very nice of them.
The next day I continued to Aceh and again, I had to sleep at a petrol station. This petrol station had a shack where people can sleep when they are tired, so I was not the only one sleeping there.
The next morning when I wake up, it was raining again and I sat on my bike while waiting for the rain to stop. Three guys came over and asked me questions about my travels, the usual conversation. They asked me to sit with them. I thought they just want to chat more but it turned out they all started to take out money from their bags and count it. It was a lot of cash. They kept telling me they are not robbers and I don’t have to worry. When they finished dividing the money between them, they also gave me some to help me to buy petrol, etc. After that, we said goodbye. Until now, I still don’t understand where all the money came from. I think they must have gambled and won.
I was excited when I got to Aceh because I was one step closer to finished my trip and also because soon I would be at kilometer zero of Indonesia. I had heard many stories about Aceh, from the Tsunami to the Sharia law, and so I was bit nervous to be there. As it turned out, Aceh is a very nice province and people are extremely friendly and nice. Not long after I arrived in Aceh province, my fan belt snapped and I had to push my bike all by myself to the nearest workshop. This was in a small village and the shop didn’t have the fan belt my bike needed, so the mechanic rode to the town and found one for me there. After it was fixed, I continued to Banda Aceh.
I arrived a day before Ied al-Adha in Banda Aceh and people were preparing for the feast. In Aceh, the celebration can go for a week. When I arrived in Banda Aceh, I wanted to do “tsunami-tourism” but most of places were closed so I could only take picture from outside. I decided to go straight away to Weh Island and found the ferry extremely full with local tourists. The funny thing is that on Weh Island, the Sharia law is not as strict as in other places in Aceh. On Weh Island, you can also find churches and many women not covering themselves. There are so many misunderstanding about Sharia law in Aceh and I think that rather than being afraid, people should visit the province and meet the people and then make informed judgments.
I really liked Weh Island. It was a really beautiful place and the beaches were beautiful. I camped on the shack next to the beach and the next day went to Kilometer Zero of Indonesia.
After Aceh, I only had one province left to visit – Riau Island. To get to Riau Island, I had to take the same road back. I also really wanted to be in Riau Island exactly one year after I first set off from my home so I drove all day and all night and covered approximately 600 km in one day. With a big motorbike, 600 km is not much but with a 110 cc scooter, it took a long time. I got lost a few times (once because it turned out there are two harbors with the same name) and ended up driving down empty palm oil plantation roads in the middle of the night. It was really dark and there was no one else on the unpaved red dirt road. After driving for about an hour, I finally found a big road and made it to the right harbor. The next morning, I went to Tanjung Balai Karimun, a city in my final province in Indonesia – Riau Island.
I have friends in Tanjung Balai Karimun, so I stayed with them. That day, I realized that both my legs had swollen up and my ankle was so painful every time I tried to walk. I think it was because I was driving for 600 km and sitting in the same position for hours and hours. But I was happy to have made it.
From Tanjung Balai Karimun, I took ferry to Tanjung Pinang, and then another ferry to Batam.
In Batam, I stayed at my uncle’s house while waiting for a ferry to go to Jakarta. I decided to take a ferry to Jakarta instead of driving, because my bike was already worn out and I knew how bad the road from Sumatra to Jakarta would be because I’ve travelled it many times before.
The ferry from Batam is a passenger ferry and usually motorbikes are not allowed. I applied for special permission and the ferry company agreed to take my bike. After around 27 hours on the ferry (with lots of cockroaches for company), my bike and I made it to Jakarta. Yay!