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Welcome to My World

March 11, 2011 – 7:21 pm

I admit it. This picture was taken a few years ago, but I think I still look vaguely like that. Depends on the day (and the time of day). And today, just before I uploaded this picture, an Indonesian English student told me how much she liked my nose. I heard that a lot in Indonesia. Apparently, a large nose like mine is a good …

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North Sumatra Bike Trip 2018
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Reviews of the cycling gear, camping gear, and camera gear I use.

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26 – KTM Komuter Train to Kuala Lumpur

September 7, 2018 – 2:01 pm
Tuktuk to Banda Aceh - 01 - 7513

Friday, September 7, 2018
4:30 a.m. Room 7, Natalia Guesthouse (formerly Bird Nest)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

(37 ringgit per night/$9 US; small room; single bed; no sheets provided; no towel; no soap; fan only; no window; noisy; hot; shared bathrooms a long way away; but big and friendly lobby, kitchen, and other common areas; informal and relaxed)

I wish I could start this entry in this long email by saying that I had a wonderful day yesterday and that taking my bike on the train to Kuala Lumpur was an effortless dream. But I’d be lying. When it got close to an appropriate time to leave the d’Spark Hotel and head to the train station (I had to wait for off-peak hours), it began to rain heavily. And that rain was no joke. It thundered down in sheets for a very long time. It was annoying because I was mentally and physically prepared to go. I had woken up at three to take advantage of this nice room, and I had done so for many hours. Now it was time to go, and I wanted to go. But it would have been insane to go out into that weather. I had no choice but to kick back and wait.

My bicycle on the KTM Komuter train.

I waited for a long, long time, but the rain never stopped. It just kept raining and raining. Luckily, it did start to rain less hard after an hour and a half, and I finally decided to just go. I would get wet and my bike and trailer and bags would get wet, and that would make getting on the train even more challenging, but I had no choice. When I got to the train station, I made sure to once again keep my bike and trailer hidden from view. I knew there was a new program that allowed people to bring their bikes onto these trains. But the people who designed that policy were not thinking about fully loaded touring bikes with trailers. They were thinking of day trippers bringing a simple bike for a short ride around the park. A giant, dripping wet foreigner with a bicycle loaded with bags plus a trailer is not what they were thinking about.

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25 – Ferry to Klang, Malaysia

September 6, 2018 – 12:32 pm
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Thursday, September 6, 2018
4:30 a.m. Room ?, d’Spark Hotel
Klang, Malaysia
(60 RM/$15 US per night; single room; small but well-appointed, modern, clean; boutique style hotel; A/C; TV; WiFi; nice private bathroom; kettle; instant coffee; bottled water; soap, shampoo, towel supplied;)
Much of my fiddling with the trailer and the rain cover. turned out to be unnecessary, at least for this trip. I realized that since I had …

24 – Trapped Among Trucks and a Birdsong Competition

September 2, 2018 – 9:52 am
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Sunday September 2, 2018
5:00 a.m. Room 208, Cahaya Asahan Hotel
Kisaran, Sumatra
(130,000 rupiah/$8.50 US per night; great hotel; great staff; professional; indoor parking with security; nice room; two beds; air conditioning; Wi-Fi; nice, clean bathroom; shopping center with grocery store across the street)
At long last, I have made it to Kisaran. Assuming I don’t ride to the small town of Tanjungbalai, this is the last stop …

23 – Devouring Chicken in Langsa, Pangkalan Brandan, and Medan

August 26, 2018 – 8:32 am
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Thursday August 26, 2018
5:00 a.m. Room 102, Khalifah Hotel
Idirayeuk, Aceh, Sumatra
The plan is to ride down the road to the town of Langsa today. It’s not terribly far to Langsa, and there appear to be a variety of hotels there, so I wasn’t anticipating a difficult day. However, I’ve woken up to the sound of rain. If it were heavy rain, I might have just …

22 – Fishing Harbour in Idirayeuk

August 22, 2018 – 10:01 pm
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Wednesday August 22, 2018
5:00 a.m. Room 102, Khalifah Hotel
Idirayeuk, Aceh, Sumatra
(250,00 rupiah/$16.50 US a night – expensive; air conditioning; private bathroom; TV; nice bed; but the room is old and cramped and crowded)
When I left from Lhokseumawe, I had two possible outcomes for the day. One was to ride around sixty kilometers and find a hotel in a random town along the way way. The …

21 – The Road to Lhokseumawe

August 20, 2018 – 6:45 pm
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Monday, August 20, 2018
7:00 a.m. Room 10, Wisma Pase
Lhokseumawe, Sumatra
(170,000 rupiah/$11 US per night; big room; big bed; furniture; TV; air conditioning; nice bathroom; clean; modern; quiet; fast WiFi and strong cell phone reception)
From the time being seven in the morning, it’s clear that I am staying in Lhokseumawe today. I had a fair amount of trouble cycling the sixty-five kilometers to get here yesterday, …

20 – Stomping on Cockroaches

August 17, 2018 – 6:31 pm
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Friday August 17, 2018
7:15 a.m. Room 46, Hotel Fajar
Bireuen, Sumatra
I’ve definitely stayed in worse places than the Hotel Fajar. In fact, the hotel itself is really large and has a lot of facilities, such as seating in the lobby, tables and chairs outside, a parking area in the rear courtyard, water dispensers, and a drinks cooler. However, I opted for the cheapest room at 120,000 …

19 – No Bridge! Crossing the River by Raft

August 15, 2018 – 1:17 pm
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Wednesday August 15, 2018
6:30 a.m. Room 10, Kana Wisma
Meureudu, Aceh, Sumatra
Well, I’m afraid it is that time again, the time for a graphic account of being very ill. This has been a very bad one so far, but I also got a bit lucky. The lucky part is that I made it through the entire day of cycling and getting a hotel room and getting …

18 – Fixing My Bike and Other Gear in Sigli

August 13, 2018 – 11:55 am
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Monday August 13, 2019
6:30 a.m Ramshackle Room, Wisma Dian
Sigli, Sumatra
I was woken up by the call to prayer this morning at around five a.m. I felt like I should sleep longer, but I wasn’t able to. So I got up and went about my early morning routine. That involves taking down my mosquito net and setting it aside, plugging in my kettle for hot water, …