December 18th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

Come the morning, once more I was struck down by a stomach bug.  This is getting to be a regular occurrence now, that just as one of us begins to get better, the other is laid low.  Which does leave one of us to be the strong man, but is otherwise pretty awful, since we almost never both have energy at the same time.  I struggled thro’ some sort of breakfast at the café in the courtyard of the school – a pleasant place, but the service is appalling – + then we attempted to catch a bus to Batu, a small town just 20 kms or so out of Malang, + our next destination.  The bus route came right past the school, so in theory all one had to do was sit on one’s pack outside the gate, + flag down the first bus. 

Too easy?  Right.  By the time they reach us, just a few hundred metres from the bus station, the buses are very full.  And they are particularly reluctant to pick up tall Europeans with large bulky packs who are only going as far as Batu.  So after one of these roared past us, we decided to obtain a better position in the queue by going directly to the bus station.  This scheme did enable us to obtain a place, but we were hardly in an enviable position, since even when we climbed on the bus was remarkably full, + all along the route took on people, people, people, individually + in large family groups, + most carrying big bundles.  I would not have believed it possible to fit so many people in one bus – there must have been just over a hundred of us.  It was not a comfortable ride.

As soon as we arrived in Batu, we looked around either for a losmen or, failing that, a close-by restaurant where I could rest, look after the bags, + wait for Val to return bearing tidings of a wonderful losmen.  For quite a while tho’, we could find neither, so were forced to plod the streets.  This was draining physically, so I was delighted when Val shepherded me into a restaurant.  It even had a colour TV there.  This was probably just as well, since Val was an unquestionably long time.  I watched the end of the badminton, then the news, then what seemed to be a traditional clown show, + then an Indonesian pop programme – it makes Top of the Pops look avant-garde.

Fortunately, Val was now quick to return + rescue me, taking me to a losman not too far away, though she had to traipse all over town to find it.  My immediate requirement was for a toilet, but that little accomplishment managed, I was ready + able to consider a trip somewhere.  Val had run into a Swedish guy while trekking round town – he was not only staying in our losman, but keen to join us on a side-trip.  (We had decided to return to Tana Toraja, + there collect volunteers.)  I’m sorry, no idea what the last sentence means.  It was written during the extremes of fatigue, late last night.

The 3 of us found a bemo, + took that up into the hills to visit Selecta, a resort town centred on a swimming pool.  This turned out tho’, not to be a good idea, today being a hot Sunday.  The place was just jam-packed with Indonesians.  Even so, we probably would have visited the pool, just to have a look at it, had we not been deterred by the Rp500 entrance fee.  So we wrote the trip off to experience.  Before we returned tho’, we bought some fresh vegetables from the good little market there – we were especially attracted by the beautiful-looking carrots.

Walked back to Batu – a longer walk than we’d remembered, but not too strenuous, being all down hill.  I collapsed for the rest of the day, lay on my bed + suffered, tho’ I did manage to eat a little of the fine stew that Val cooked up.  Otherwise, I slept – I think Val wandered out into the night for a little while.

I did consider deleting the unintelligible reference to TanaToraja – I have no more idea now of ehat I was talking about than I did thyen – but have decided to retain it as an example of… well, a wandering mind, I suppose. Other than that, a return to illness, which must weary you reading about it as much as it did me experiencing it, but once again, it’s there in the diary, so…

Can find no photographic reference to Batu, let alone Selecta, so have chosen a photo we had of the local landscape.

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