I handed my daughter the Indonesian guidebook and said she could plan our trip to Sumatra. It was two years after Java before we flew to Singapore, caught a ferry to Bantam Island in Indonesia, then flew to Pekanbaru, the closest town in Sumatra.
My daughter was under the impression she’d planned the entire trip, but luckily for me, we’d chosen the same places so it appeared to her this was entirely her idea.
From the internet, Pekanbaru’s grown, but on our visit, it was small, dirty, noisy and polluted and the mid-range hotel we stayed in wasn’t mid-range. I went to the bathroom to turn on the tap, but there was no water. When I complained, someone came to the room testing the taps, feigning surprise. In the end we had to suffice with a bucket of water.
We walked from one end of town to the other thinking what a bad idea it was landing in this place. The whole convoluted route to Sumatra was a cost saving measure on airfares. Luckily, nothing was booked, so we left the grimy town the following morning by bus.