Sumatra on the move

  Aceh is a province in Sumatra, Indonesia, and its terrain is quite different from several provinces in eastern Indonesia. Sumatra is a giant island located in the west of Indonesia. If you add up the area of ​​4,100 islands between East Nusa Tenggara Province and the Sanchih Islands, it only accounts for 1/4 of the entire island of Sumatra. A forested mountain range stretches 1,600 kilometers along the west coast of Sumatra after rising from the northern tip of Aceh province. The rainforest on the east side of the mountain slowly cuts down to the flat land on the east bank and gradually disappears, leaving a large swampy plain intertwined with rivers, creating a fertile land for Indonesia.
  Sumatra has a complex terrain and diverse cultures. The residents of Aceh who live in the “Mecca Corridor” are the most devout Muslims and are proud of this. The Batak people who live near Lake Toba in the southern part of Aceh province and believe in Christianity attach great importance to clan traditions and are no less enthusiastic about funerals and sacrificial sacrifices than the residents of Sumba. Among the Minangkabau people in West Sumatra are proud Muslims, active intellectuals, and chefs who can cook padang rice. Palembang, on the east coast of Sumatra, is home to Muslim traders who come and go. These are just 4 of the many ethnic groups in Sumatra.
  When I took the bus north from Medan to Lansha, I was not only surprised to find that the campaign posters of the old rebels were plastered everywhere in Aceh Province, but I also accidentally bought a ticket with a seat printed on it, and it even said the scheduled departure time. I think it’s a little strange, because according to my experience traveling in eastern Indonesia, all buses always wait until they are full of passengers before going on the road, and there is no so-called scheduled departure time. However, the Medan bus did leave at the designated time, and I was able to sit comfortably in the designated seat.
  The bus was less than a kilometer away from the station, when the driver suddenly braked, letting a guy standing on the side of the road waving to climb up, and then picked up two more passengers. Every time he stopped the car, the assistant stuffed the new passenger into the back door, and the friend who saw him off followed him with bags of rice and baskets of eggs. The first new passenger who came up smiled when he saw me: “I’m sorry, you don’t mind me…” I quickly looked away, but it was too late to stop her, and it turned out that the three passengers shared two chairs. After the bus continued to drive for several kilometers, another old man also squeezed in with a smile. Three and a half people sat on the two chairs at once, and the new passengers could barely squeeze between the chairs and a pile of cement bags.
  Indonesia is a country full of all kinds of mobile migration, but I always meet a group of Indonesian tourists who are vulnerable. For example, when taking a boat, before the boat leaves the dock, they start to get dizzy. Bus passengers always sniff a small jar of chili paste under their noses. It is said that this all-purpose ointment can stop vomiting. It tastes like cool mint whiskey soaked in Vickers cold cream. You only need to see the passenger take it out. It means they are about to vomit. The drive from Medan to Lansha lasted 14 hours. The first wife who squeezed into my seat sniffed the chili paste as soon as I got in the car, and then silently vomited with a plastic bag. The vomit was drowned out by the car speaker. Dou Le (a musical performance unique to Indonesia).
  If you don’t want to take such long-distance buses, you can take various short-distance minibuses (the residents of northern Sumatra are used to calling them “L300” because most local drivers drive this kind of Mitsubishi model), but the minibuses stop temporarily more often , will also take a long way to drop passengers to their doorstep or send them to a relative’s house to pick up a package. A small bus with a passenger capacity of 11 people is often crowded with 18 people, so it is best to grab a seat at the front and sit next to the driver. The advantage of sitting in the front seat is that you can enjoy the view without staring at the back of a passenger’s head or a sequined hood.
  Drivers rarely allow more than two passengers to sit in the front seat in order to preserve their own space. They know the bus area well and are chatty and well-informed, offering advice and sometimes home delivery for familiar B&Bs.
  Another benefit of sitting in the front seat: I can pretend to rummage through the contents of my bag, and turn the volume down on the car stereo. Sometimes the driver would allow me to plug in a flash drive and play the music I brought, and I quickly knew from the passengers’ reactions that they didn’t like Western rock music, but they would never miss flamenco or classical music…

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