Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tour of Indonesia 1 : Sumatera - Part 08

So, how do we end this?

I've been on the road for nearly a week.
My only connection to the outside world was with my mobile internet service.
So far, the SIMpati data package had worked out well. But at a cost, it really drains every Rupiah credited to it.
Breakfast is on the house, so, we had nasi goreng at the hotel's restaurant.
The food was so-so, but what made my day, was the good brewed coffee.
Our plan was to explore Dumai with our bikes.

Mohd Radzi, speaking to a hotel staff
Riding off to Bagan Keladi

As far as tourism is concerned, there's nothing much to do or see in Dumai.
And beneath the serenity of being a port town, this place has its dark past. Well, certain parts of Dumai is considered as a red-light district, serving port workers and sailors.
So, single guys like us would be sticking out like a sore thumb. We stayed off these paths and maintained our plan to explore the town.
That said, we rode off to Bagan Keladi.
This is a small village at the outskirts of Dumai where we get to sample the simple life among the villagers.
I found our kids in Malaysia literally spoilt.
The children here still play around their yard, some were spotted fishing at a canal.

Riding to Bagan Keladi
Kids, being kids!
The simple pleasures of life seen here on the face of the local boy
Fish caught to be used as live bait for the big one
Mission: Pulau Rupat...

After riding around Bagan Keladi, we set off to the ferry landing site.
There, a group of guys were manning the place.
They told us the ticket to Rupat costs around IDR 100,000.
An elderly man said we could take the "RoRo" service at a port nearby. 
He told us to head back towards Bagan Keladi.
Here's the thing about riding in a foreign place: try to take note and remember the landmarks.
If you are doing a solo ride, best to carry a notebook and jot down directions and names of important places.
So, we headed back towards the Dumai Dock Market, and right there at the junction, lies a sugarcane juice seller. 
There were people hanging around the area. This is a best place to ask.
While the sugarcane seller was preparing his cool beverage, I went up to an elderly man and asked: "Permisi Pak, Bisa Bertanya?" (Excuse me, may I ask?).
The man responded by acknowledging my query and told me that the RoRo (Roll on, Roll out) ferry terminal is just nearby.
We finished our sugarcane juice and cycled towards the jetty.

A Chinese Medium's house

Sugarcane hot off the rollers

Cooling off with some iced sugarcane juice
The Ferry's waiting area
It turned out that we were just in time for the arrival of the RoRo ferry.
For departures from the mainland, its on odd-hours.
Our ferry leaves at 01:00pm, plenty of time to hang around and wait.
And once it arrived, motorcycles, lorries and cars started to pack the ferry like sardines.
We had to put our bikes on a small lorry.
And the fare to get across from Dumai to Rupat on the RoRo ferry service costs about IDR 10,000 (RM2.67) one-way.
I told Mohd Radzi that there weren't much time and things to do on the island. Our mission was to get to a beach, put on our best Batik shirt for the camera!
It takes about 30-minutes for the ferry to land at the other side of the island and Rupat is no small dot on the map.
It's hugely under-developed and is the nearest point from Indonesia to the Malaysian Peninsular.

Me, riding in Rupat
A panoramic shot from the island
The Malaysian cycling tourists
The ferry is here! 

Back to the mainland...
Packing up the bikes...

After alighting from the RoRo ferry, we rode back towards town.
Since we didn't have lunch, I asked if we could swing by Bakso Lapangan Tembak in town.
Mohd Radzi agreed and we had some Es Buah and Bakso to line our stomach.
The rest of the evening was a treat at Rumah Makan Pak Datuk at Jalan Jendral Sudirman.
With the free time that I had summed up, I washed my bike and bagged it. That's it, no more riding for me.

Es Buah Bakso Lapangan Tembak

A wholesome meal at Pak Datuk

Mohd Radzi enjoying his Nasi Padang.. 
A nite cap!

With Rupat in the fold, we've done about 279km in total.
It was an interesting ride in a sense that we saw some really cool places.
The people of Sumatera are friendly in general and are willing to help travelers.
We've capped our budget at IDR 2million, which is just about right for nearly a week.
The bulk of our expenses were on hotels, being the most expensive in Dumai. 
During the journey home, the fucking baggage handlers broke my Ashima disk brake lever. I had to get replacement parts for this.. 
The next day, we hired a transport from the hotel to the port and began with our travel documents. 
Endured the three-hour journey and told my cycling buddy that the best way for me to get home was to hire a cab.
It cost me RM60, and I am short of time. Why? Because I need to send my wife to the airport on the same day.
And for the journey, I've done my best to educate Mohd Radzi on the know-hows in bicycle touring and hope that he could pick up some good skills and would be someday a ride leader..
This guy has plenty of potential, he needs to be street-smart and alert. Rather than being a follower, I guess he will rise to ranks of expedition organizer.. At the end of it, I did apologized to him if I had treated him harshly throughout the week-long journey.

Bonus treat: the whole journey summed up in eight minutes, yes, I produced a video!

Tour of Indonesia 1 : Sumatera - Part 07

Back to the point of origin...

We packed up our gear, folded the bikes and waited.
And it was one helluva wait.
The time was set at 10:30am, we were still waiting.
I have a back-up plan, but we are holding on to the words of the man whom we paid IDR 50,000 two days earlier.
A phonecall from our driver sealed the deal.
We loaded up the bikes, and drove to the outskirts of Pekanbaru.
Just 10km into the journey, the driver stopped, rushed into a bush.
He took a dump and told us that he had been having tummy ache.
Well, when you have to go, you have to go!

Taking the "easy" option back to Dumai
We have about 210km to cover and each time we pass a small town, I was amazed that we actually rode past them.
Little by little we found ourselves past Minas and Kandis.
The plan was to take a break at Duri.

The happy camper
Halting at a hilltop

Our ride to Dumai
 Different scenarios.. 

If we would have cycled back to Dumai, we had to leave really early.
Sunrise is at 06:00am and we only have about eight hours or so to cover this distance and break our journey in Duri.
That's 110km and roughly about 11hours or more on the road with an average speed of 10km/h barring any delays on the road.
Give and take, the 110km ride would chalk up even more time.
But, we have to be in Dumai on Thursday no matter what.
So, the cycling part was off.
Mohd Radzi felt that it was best to head straight to Dumai without stopping. And do the rest of the cycling there.
By 02:00pm, we reached Duri.
The driver pulled along at a Rumah Makan and we had a decent lunch...

A nice nasi padang restaurant
The guy who served us food, glorious food!

My simple lunch
Lunch at Duri costs us IDR 52,000 (RM13.80) and that's for three persons.
That's dirt cheap compared to some places we've been to.
I shared some dishes with Mohd Radzi and our driver had a piece of chicken and a plate of rice all to himself.
This was a real satisfying experience.
Next on the list, was a trip to Mandau City Mall.
We wanted to get more Batik Shirts!
I found a nice Blue-coloured Batik and enjoyed 30% discount for the garment.
Later we went down to the supermarket where I bought some corned beef. These would go well with my instant noodles.
After a good time at the Mall, we herded back onto our chartered car and shot off to Dumai.
From Duri, we have about 74km to cover.

Matahari Mall in Duri

My awesome Blue Batik Shirt! 

Big spenders enjoy double the discount...
Nearly half the day on the road.. 

With Duri in the distance, we drove past Bukit Kapur, and reached the outskirts of Dumai.
It was already 04:30pm.
We have yet to check-in at a hotel in this town.
From my Google search, there was Comfort Hotel near our ferry office.
Our driver was professional enough to take us there.
The rooms were fully booked.
Why? There was a coast guard exercise.
Even on a weekday, rooms are scarce in this small port town.
The receptionist at Comfort told us to check out South Asia hotel on the end of the road.
This one was directly opposite some fuel farms. Once I saw it, the red flag was raised.
It costs about RM45 a night. Mohd Radzi was really pleased with it, but I told him to check out the room first.
It turned out to be a Roach motel. Fuck the RM45/night deal.
I remembered a hotel near the police station when we rode past it.
The driver took us there and as we went past Palapas hotel, there was a new place called Komala Hotel beside it.
They only had a Junior Suite at IDR 699,000 (RM186) which is the only choice we had. 
I had my stash and told Mohd Radzi that if we would stay two more nights in Sumatera, it would be in comfort. He agreed and we went down to a goldsmith in the town area to change our currency.
I tipped the driver before parting ways with him and while Mohd Radzi was sorting out the room, I had a chat with the hotel's General Manager. He told me that the prices were at promotional rates.
"You should go to Bukit Tinggi," he urged.
I asked him if he is from Dumai, "No, I am from Pekanbaru..."

Burning vegetation in Dumai
Komala Hotel, Dumai's latest accommodation

Taking a walk downtown
Dumai walkabout

After checking-in, we took a walk. 

Mid-way reaching the police station, a trishaw guy started asking questions.
"Kamu dari mana?," he asked.
The man was persistant, he wanted to "show us around".
I told Mohd Radzi that the last thing we want to do, is to be taken to a dark alley and get robbed.
The trishaw guy followed us for another 2km.
We wanted to get some information about the ferry to Pulau Rupat off Dumai.
I asked an elderly man about ferry services, he said it's next to a bridge and the ride would cost us IDR 100,000 each (RM26.70).
That sounded rather ridiculous. We walked down the road and decided to cross the street and found a place to eat.
It was some ayam bakar Mas Mono outlet that just opened for the crowd.
The food was below average and service at this "fast-food" outlet was agonizingly slow.
We continued walking until we reached a supermarket.
Here, I bought some instant noodles.
Mohd Radzi thought that the ones that found in the room were free of charge.
I told him that if any of the beverage and instant cup noodles were consumed, it would be billed to our room.

Dumai at dusk

The Mas Mono Ayam Bakar outlet

An absolutely horrible dinner
Bir Bintang to soothe my thirst...
A room too far...

For a Junior Suite, I'd expect at least a mini bar and a fridge. And a decent sofa.
Being the older dude, I offered the whole King-sized bed to the greenhorn.
It's courtesy.
Later, I got down to the receptionist to ask for another key card.
Then, I went across the street to the Alfa Mart to grab two cans of Bintang Beer and some drinking water.
At the lobby, I asked for some ice cubes.
The restaurant's waiter charged me IDR 20,000 (RM5.34) for a bowl of ice. That's fucking ridiculous. But what the hell, the beer needs chilling.
I sat down in the room, had my beers and got onto what's app to tell my wife that everything was okay.
Then, it was time to hunker down. Sleeping in a small cramped sofa. I had suffer another night, well, so be it!

Tour of Indonesia 1 : Sumatera - Part 06

Free and easy...

We have one day and a night to burn in Pekanbaru.
Mohd Radzi suggested breakfast at Pondok Saiyo before we head out to the Sang Nila Utama Museum in Jalan Jendral Sudirman. 
Seems that in every town, there is a Jalan Jendral Sudirman. 
Unlike Medan in North Sumatera, Pekanbaru remained much as a trading area.
There are a lot of businesses here compared to most of the towns we have rode past.
Mohd Radzi suggested the Sang Nila Utama museum and I concur with his suggestion as it's really worth taking the trip.

Rolling out from our room in Pekanbaru
Bubur Bandung, thick enough to paste wallpapers
We had bubur bandung (porridge) at Pondok Saiyo.
Later, we chat a bit with the lady who runs it and learned that Malaysians staying around the area loved to have their makan at her shop.
From our hotel, we rolled out towards Jalan Jendral Sudirman and halfway through, we stopped at a police station to ask for directions.
Seems that we are on the right path by just riding straight as the road is a long stretch.
About two kilometers down the road, I spotted the museum complex.
We had to carry our bikes up a pedestrian bridge to the other side of the road.
Coincidentally, the Museum is located near the province's tourism services.
We checked out the Sang Nila Utama exhibits and found out that there is a Malacca Gallery there.
It was closed to the public, so, we checked out what Pekanbaru has to offer in terms of historical finds.
There are a lot of temple ruins in the Riau district with the nearest one about 100km away.
The Museum staff also recommended the Siak Palace. 
As a token of goodwill, we donated a small sum for entering the Museum.
There are some interesting exhibits and if you love everything to do with the petroleum industry, Chevron's presence is very strong here.

Malay traditional attire in the museum

Cross-section of an oil field in Sumatera

The Museum in Pekanbaru
Gathering information..

We went to the province's tourism service which is located nearby.
A lady greeted us there and shared about what to see and do in Pekanbaru.
We took the opportunity to get maps and useful literature on the province.
Apparently, there's not much to see in the area.
From there, we rode back towards hotel and chilled out at the Tune Hotel's cafe.

Exploring Pekanbaru..

If you have a bicycle, you can see more.
It's a shitload cheaper than asking for a taxi and a local tour guide.
We rode off to the edge of the Siak River and a craft market nearby where tourists from Java are said to splurge their money there.

Panoramic view of the Siak river in Pekanbaru
Meeting the locals...

We stopped by a local coffeeshop and had some makan.
There's this local dish called "Shyomai".
And later, I learned that its actually Siew Mai dumplings.
The owner, Pak Akmar, who has been to Malaysia on several occasions, indulged on some small talk with us.
He said the Shyomai dumplings originated from a small shop in Bandung.
What's interesting is the fact that the dish is actually some rojak with peanut sauce and steamed cabbages.
We spent some time chatting with Pak Akmar, learning about Pekanbaru.
He told us to pay the Balai Adat Melayu at Jalan Diponegoro a visit.

Indonesian Shyomai

Pak Akmar showing off his special dish from Bandung

A worker preparing the steamed dumplings
Later in the day, we rode down to Jalan Diponegoro.
There, we stopped by at the Balai Istiadat Melayu.
It's a nice building in Pekanbaru's premier district and with the time we had, we continued towards Chinatown.
There, we witnessed an accident.
A motorcyclist and his pillion rider crashed. The girl that was with the biker was hurt.
She had lacerations on her limbs and her face was bleeding.
The time was just right for us to ride back to the hotel and retire the bikes for the day.


The Siak River

At a monument in Pekanbaru

Bike lanes

Riding along the dedicated bike lane in Riau's administrative capital...

Es buah to cool off on a hot day.. 
A trip to the Mall..

As tourists, we want to bring home some souvenirs.
But Dumai, Kandis, Minas and Pekanbaru aren't your usual tourist spots.
There are no shops selling T-shirts saying: "I love Dumai" or keychains.
So, the most practical thing to bring home was a nice batik shirt.
And for this, we set out the Ska Mall, some 7km away from our hotel.
We managed to get a cab and shot straight to the mall.
There, we found what we were looking for.

Found the batik shirt I was looking for

The sale at Ska Mall's Matahari Department store
A surprise find! 
Sumatera suffers from frequent power outage.
Pekanbaru is no exception. While we were browsing the aisle, the lights went off.
We were lucky enough to score our Batik shirts and while waiting for our cab driver to arrive, I decided to check out the hypermart.
There was an aisle with Hotwheels cars on the rack.
I found two Mars Rovers at IDR 11,900 (RM3.18).
Back in Kuala Lumpur, these rare vehicles are sold at RM35 each.
So, without hesitation, I grabbed them! 

Our last night in Pekanbaru

We chilled out till about 7pm and it started to rain. I mean, heavy rain.
After weathering out the showers, we walked down to Pondok Saiyo.
The shop was closed.
The back up plan was to walk around, searching for some good makan.
Then, we saw this Pecel Lele shop (fried catfish) and decided to grab a meal there..

Pecel Lele: Catfish fried to perfection

Radzi and me

The traditional dishes...
After a good meal, we waited for the rain to die down.
Then, it was a trip to the local convenience store.
We grabbed some snacks and drinks before heading back to our room.
I was tired and am looking forward for the road trip back to Dumai the next day.
We had made arrangements for a 10am pick-up, that leaves us plenty of time to have breakfast and some last-minute shopping..