Stinkin’ Pekanbaru

More than a year after our trek through Java, I handed my daughter an Indonesian guidebook and said she could plan our trip to Sumatra. It was two years since our last Indonesian visit before we flew to Singapore, caught a ferry to Bantam Island in Indonesia, then flew to Pekanbaru—the closest town in Sumatra.

Pekanbaru bus station—the only time I ever saw women wearing a hijab in Indonesia.

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 has grown and changed, but on our visit, it was 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 and feigned surprise. In the end we had to suffice with a bucket of water.

After exploring the town, we couldn’t wait to leave. The convoluted route to Sumatra had been a cost saving measure on airfares. Luckily, with nothing booked in advance, we left the grimy town by bus the following morning for Bukittinggi. Our adventure had begun.