July 14th, 2009 - I think my ass is busted. It hurts. A lot. I just spent 14 hours on a motorcycle traveling from Bukittinggi to Parapat. That's 14 hours sitting in a seat designed for a petite ass (My ass is petite just not Southeast Asian petite). Did I want to drive for 14 hours? Negative. You can't always get what you wa-ant....
Let me tell you what's not fun. It is not fun to drive a motorcycle at night on a North Sumatran road with a crappy headlight. The light functions but it is slightly askew and points a bit upward. I'd never really noticed before because I make it a point to avoid driving after sunset. So every yahoo coming at me thinks I have my brights on and starts flashing their headlights spasmodically. With each passing vehicle I'd scream, 'WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT FROM ME!!!!!????' into my helmet as they drove past. Let's just say I was a bit punchy. By following other vehicles at a slow rate of speed I managed to use their lights to view the track ahead and keep my bike on the road. Bonus.
When I did finally arrive in Parapat I stopped at a gas station to inquire about suitable lodging. I was directed to a fine looking set of buildings nestled upon a hilltop. It was like a beacon of hope. No angels or music but good enough for moi. I arrived in my room to find that the TV had no remote control. Oh, the injustice!!!
In the midst of my marathon cruise I passed through an area of North Sumatra that I perceived to be more devoutly Muslim than other regions. I saw dormitory-type buildings (indicating the presence of religious schools known as madrasas) and many adolescent boys milling about in traditional garb (dishdashas and skull caps) . I also came across the largest, most impressive mosque I have ever seen.
Due to my inability to determine an accurate time frame for my arrival in Parapat I was forced to pass up some superb photo opportunities. One in particular will haunt me for some time as it was the stuff of National Geographic. For some reason there is an abundance of motorcycles with small covered sidecars in this part of Sumatra. They proliferate and I have seen this nowhere else in Indo. Well, I drove by an elementary school and outside were a good 20 of these contraptions (Sumatran school bus?) all lined up with young passengers awaiting their chariot ride home. Imagine fitting as many rugrats as you can on, in, and on top of said motorcycle sidecar combination. There were kids shoved into every possible crevasse and, as I said, there were about twenty or more of these Indonesian 'clown cars' lined up outside the school. Stopping was impractical for more than one reason. In addition to my nebulous ETA in Parapat it would have been difficult to monitor all of my belongings in the midst of the swarm. Still, what a hell of a picture!
I am most entertained by the fact that many of the motorcycle/side combos are of the Vespa scooter variety. Why put a side car on a Vepsa? I think it is better to ask, 'Why wouldn't you put a sidecar on a Vespa?'. If anyone is puzzled and inquires as to why you took some particular action simply reply, "Why put a sidecar on a Vespa? Because you can, dipshit."