Travel time…Indonesia

“…I had all and then most of you, some, and now none of you…” ( Lord Huron, Strange Trails, 2015 )

Suddenly reacquainted with an old, dear friend.  Having slipped away, out of reach, faded by the fog of time. “I am so very sorry I didn’t mean to disturb you. Just thought I should, you know, see how you are.  I was in the neighbourhood and well, you know…” The nervous disposition.

“…No, no, please, not at all… so wonderful to see you. Please do come in…”  The soft sparkle in the eyes, framed on a canvas of memories.  The haze peels away, unveiling a shared slice of history, sentiment, innocence, freedom.  “Tea?”  “Yes, ofcourse, please, yes, thank you…”


14 responses to “Travel time…Indonesia”

  1. Avatar

    Nadeem, Thanks for linking or re-linking us with your Travel Blog. We understand you’ll be off soon, so we’ll be keeping an eye out and hoping to follow your adventures.  Best wishes, Nigel & Judy

  2. The law of unintended consequence. Perhaps without the “law” bit – that would imply some probability of chance, some rolling of dice, spinning of a roulette wheel. Guilty as charged me Lord. Finally i did something right. I remembered to forget.

    Tomorrow I shall head south to the northern border with Penang, Malaysia. An overnight train from Bangkok goes to Pedang Besar. Once consolidated, Medan in Northern Sumatra beckons. This I hope, will be my starting point for travel through the geographical kaleidoscope that is Indonesia. Hopefully I won’t have to fly, and ferries still cross from Penang but I will know more on arrival. I really should delve a little deeper, but it matters little. I wouldn’t be able to remember anyway.


    Night Flower Market, Bangkok

    Night Flower Market, Bangkok.

  3. “It is not the literal past, the ‘facts’ of history, that shape us, but images of the past embodied in language.” (Translations, 1981, Brian Friel).

    I missed Translations at the National this year owing to a superficial work meeting that conflicted with the last showing. Should have gone. The best play I have never seen.

    Just a little peeved, I spent the entire meeting adopting schoolboy like impetuosity. Scratching my head, scribbling, nodding, dragging my elbows along the desk. I swooped down and finished off the biscuits, mind you. Jammy dodgers.

    George Town mural, Penang

    George Town mural, Penang

    From Pedang Besar, and on the Malaysian side, the modern, air conditioned train seems juxtaposed against a reeled landscape of rich green foliage, palmed forests. Pelicans perched on high, hawking. Buffalo grazing. Children running barefoot on the baked earth. Tinned roofs, rusted. The intense warm sun, hazing the backdrop as we slid into the heart of Penang. Georgetown itself lies on Penang Island, the cities colonial past firmly embedded in its buildings; legacy etched in the faces of the locals and their vocations. Chinese, South Indian, Malay. Importers, wholesalers, spice merchants, metalworkers, seamstresses, jewellers.

    men working

    Working men, George Town

    “I am so sorry sir, the ferries no longer run to Medan, not financially viable you see” “Erm yup that’s fine, not to worry”. Indignant resignation, I managed to get a late flight booking for Medan, Indonesia.

  4. I have been following the current detention of Hakeem Al-Araibi in Bangkok. A young man, cuffed, shackled and reduced to pleading to those who will listen.

    Countries “promote” democracy as a goodwill gesture to appease it’s people, yet create weak institutions that underpin (and ultimately undermine) the rule of law. Corrupt political officials and enforcement agents fill the void and flourish. The trickle down effect continues and seeps through to street level… the taxi driver, the street hawker, the fruit seller. The practice becomes accepted and creates a narrative around “survival”. People are left to fend for themselves. If you speak out you are deemed an outcast, an outsider. All hail the underdog.

    You can feel it. The tell tale signs. Pride. Honour. Loyalty. Trust. An inflated currency. Air conditioned shopping malls, burgers and censored television. I have a sense people can be so much more, but the quiet oppression suffocates any will to change, or challenge. Arrested development. It frustrates and spears a hole into my core. For me the sense of helplessness is palpable. This submission has the potential to reduce the value of people to something less than human. Feral.

    Ok I will stop, rant over. I spent 2 days in Medan, Indonesia and realised that I could not continue my travels there. Something burned inside, a sense that all is not as it appears. That unnerved me. For once, I listened to my conscience. I feel a paradoxical sense of guilt and clarity in making such a decision. This chapter is closed for now but the book remains open. Given this, I will re-route back through Malaysia, with no destination in mind.

  5. Hows Ipoh? Been checking it out and looks like a great spot…food looks delicious…love from us 3 (Pumpkin says she misses you) and all the Butt clan

  6. Have (nearly) caught up with you, Nad (that must have been a long ol’ journey by train from Bangkok to Pinang – as my atlas has it). It seems your trip, so far, has been a bit unnerving, so we hope this aspect doesn’t continue overmuch. (Your heartfelt rant noted and will follow-up on the Hakeem Al-Araibi story.) Also, loved your observations from the train window once you had crossed to Sumatra – you really should be a travel writer, you know … literary skills combined with a cautiously intrepid nature! Hope your re-route – now underway – takes you into interesting but also safe territory. Nigel

  7. Chinese new year in George Town.

    Ipoh – discreet, provincial, colonial in its appeal, lies 3 hours south of Penang, in the state of Perak. A city in a bowl of lush green surround, resting at the foothills of the Cameron highlands. The old town, enveloped in chinese tradition, with a sprinkling of south Indian influence. Short narrow streets, colourful buildings bruised by the insistent sun. Walkways sheltering from the burn of the daily glow. Cold chai, poured with ice in a carrier, the perfect antedote.

    Downtown Ipoh.

    The onset of Chinese New Year drowns the streets in a sea of red and yellow. I skipped through the neighbourhood and found a little Tamil place to eat. Roti, fish curry and daal thali, sweet frothed chai. Pictures of P.Ramlee adorned the walls (, locals seeped in and out. Families gathered for what felt more like a communal gathering, intimate, embracing, smiling, sharing an anecdote.

    P.Ramlee, Ipoh.

    For some reason, and I am not sure why, Edith Piaf popped into my mind. Little sparrow, perched in a tree, looking down. That must be it.

  8. The bus to Lumut is the gateway to Pangkor, a small island on the west coast of Malaysia. From there, I took the river ferry to Pangkor town, then the taxi, snaking its way to the far end of the island. At last! The golden beach wraps itself around the coastline, boats bobbing offshore. I find a hotel, feel the sand between my toes and go meet the big blue. Welcome home.

    Teluk Nipah, Pangkor Island.

    1. Glad you’ve found a safe haven, Nad. Can’t quite pick up Pangkor in my atlas … think I need a new/bigger one! So, thanks for the picture. Nigel at FMF

  9. Great writing Nadeem. Just been reading something from Frank Frankopan, but yours truly shines by comparison. Ok, he’s not a travel writer, so I’m slightly biased obviously. Enjoy your travels, and see you when you return. Marts

  10. I mean Peter Frankopan 😂

    1. Thanks Marts. It’s just nice to put stuff down. The travel does aid clarity and freedom of thought. You are more focussed on the here and now and don’t look too far beyond that etc… Although let’s face it, i’m not too sure I want to delve too deeply into the inner workings… 😉 take care and see you in a while, Nad

  11. For travel time in Vietnam, click here.
    For travel time in Jordan, click here.
    For travel time in Syria, click here.
    For travel time in Turkey, click here.
    For travel time in Laos, click here.
    For travel time in Cambodia, click here.
    For travel time in Thailand, click here.
    For travel time in Malaysia, click here.
    For travel time in Myanmar, click here.
    To go to the start of this blog, click here.
    To go to, click here.

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