With no problems whatsoever getting our bikes out of Indonesian customs in Belawan, we took a deep breath and decided to take to the road straight away.
The suburbs of Medan seem to go on for miles and it took us a little while to negotiate the smaller roads leading out of this bustling city. (Motorbikes are not allowed to use the toll roads).
We’d been previously warned that the traffic and driving standards in Indonesia were very similar to that of India’s. However, so far we’ve been amazed at the courtesy and found it all to be civil: nothing like the frenetic madness of India. No continual honking of the horn: Just little beeps when drivers are about to overtake. Drivers were staying in their lanes about 70 percent of the time. The worst vehicles on the road were the small mopeds, their riders mostly below the age of 25…each seemingly immortal. I wonder just how long they think they will live if they continue to ride as they do. The term ‘ride’ is loosely used here! They weave, charge, slip and barge and somehow miss us by millimeters, cutting in between Simon and I, even though we are riding very close to each other! They’d be in much worse shape than we would if they actually hit us –they seem to have no understanding of how heavy our machines really are. We have to be cautious; we simply can’t take the risk of injuring ourselves or damaging our bikes – though I must admit that the thought of ‘accidentally’ smacking into one of them did go through my mind quite a few times!
Ahhhh – At last, we were out of the city and in the countryside, surrounded by lush green foliage – for a few minutes – and then back into the sprawl and congestion of another small town. This carried on all the way to Beragasti, where I had hoped that we would be able to take the side road up and around the two volcanoes of Sibayak and Pinto. However, the clouds had rolled in and visibility was low. As there are 32 volcanoes on the islands, I’m not going to worry too much about not being able to see these two today!
We carried on towards Lake Toba, pleased with our progress. The mountain road was a bit slow going as heavy trucks chugged up the steep inclines. They were difficult to get around at times, as most of the corners were blind bends. Unlike India, these drivers were a bit more careful about not trying to kill themselves and others, and not too many tried to overtake us, or were on the wrong side of the road. Well – the crazy colored buses were – and of course, many took the corners too fast and started to slide towards us as the drivers battled to keep the inside two wheels on the ground…Crazy!
We enjoyed the steep bends, curves, twists and turns and yes, even the potholes! It made us concentrate on the riding…something that we’ve not had to do in quite a while. Up and down on the pegs, looking out for the ruts and deep holes, the occasional crazy bus and small mountain roads full of wandering goats and water buffalo ….ah…bliss.
We are back to our ‘normal’ lives.