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North Sumatra Bike Trip 2018

I started this bike trip in Tuktuk, a small tourist village located on Samosir Island in Lake Toba. My plan was to ride north along the west coast to the city of Banda Aceh. This would take me through  the towns of Tapak Tuan, Meulaboh, and Calang. Then I would return either through the central mountains or along the plains of the east coast. My journey ended in the small fishing port of Tanjunbalai, where I caught a ferry to Klang, Malaysia.

 

When this bike trip began, I had already been in Sumatra for some time, so I was quite familiar with Indonesian food and life in Sumatra in general. For that reason, I don’t write a lot about that kind of stuff. All the excitement of my arrival in a new country and discovering new things had occurred months earlier. So this journal kind of jumps in feet first without a lot of preamble or discussion of the people and culture around me. I was mainly interested in seeing some new places along the coast and in testing out my new Radical Design Cyclone IV trekking trailer.

 

01- Riding from Tuktuk

Yesterday was my first day of real cycling in a very long time, and it shows this morning. (I rode from Tuktuk to Pangururan on the other side of Samosir Island.) I'd forgotten, for example, ...
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02 – A Night at a Truck Stop

I woke up in my rather rough room in Pangururan with a fairly difficult climb ahead of me. I didn't have perfect facts at my disposal, but according to the Plotaroute website, I would need ...
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03 – Downhill to Sidikalang

FROM THE TRUCK STOP TO SIDIKALANG As I anticipated, the first part of this day involved pushing my bike up a few hundred more meters of altitude. The truck stop was about two thirds of ...
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04 – Nantampukmas Hotel and the Road to Subulussalam

Despite practicing hundreds of times while I rode my bike, I simply could not pronounce the name Subulussalam when someone asked me where I was going or where I was coming from. That name defeated ...
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05 – A Wet, Wet Day from Subulussalam to the Ocean

The distance from Subulussalam to the next town that I knew contained some form of accommodation was 152 kilometers. There was no possibility of covering that distance in one day, so I knew I would ...
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06 – Camping in a Fish Market on the Beach

After a long, rain-filled day, I arrived at the ocean. I saw a small path that led to the beach, and I turned my bike down it. I had cycled enough for the day, and ...
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07 – The Road to and from Tapak Tuan – Ocean Paradise

I don't even know what time I crawled into my tent or what time I finally fell asleep, but it must have been early because I felt quite refreshed when my eyes popped open and ...
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08 – Alue Bilie Bordello Decor and Troublesome Meulaboh

The next major stop on my route was the somewhat major city of Meulaboh. I think Meulaboh is the largest city on the coast before you reach Banda Aceh. The distance from Blang Pidie to ...
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09 – Cross-Cultural Confusion in Calang

Saturday July 28, 2018 5:00 a.m. Room 103, Losmen Mustika Sari Meulaboh, Sumatra I seem to have finally gotten caught up with events, and I am writing this in real time as opposed to summarizing ...
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10 – Lost in a Losmen in Lamno

Monday July 30, 2018 4:00 a.m. Room 205B, Khana Hotel Calang, Aceh Jaya, Sumatra It hardly seems possible, but I woke up to the sound of a heavy rain falling. I've lost count of the ...
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11 – Beach Life

Thursday August 2, 2018 3:45 a.m. Room 15, Dian Rana Guesthouse Beach area outside of Banda Aceh It is far too early to be up doing this, especially as I am not going anywhere today ...
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12 – Beautiful Lampuuk Beach Near Banda Aceh

Yesterday was a pretty relaxing day. I needed to do some preparations for my trip to Kuala Lumpur. Nothing major, but I have to do a bit of planning to make sure that I bring ...
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13 – The Griya Arida Hotel in Banda Aceh

10:30 a.m. Room 102, Hotel Griya Arida Banda Aceh, Sumatra Well, I am relaxing in luxury. Luxury, I tells ya. I ended up booking a room at a place that would normally be quite outside ...
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14 – Short Trip to Kuala Lumpur

Sunday August 5, 2018 7:00 a.m. Room 216, Rain Forest Hotel Chinatown District, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 45 ringgit per night ($11 US) - shared bath, air con, WiFi, clean, modern, professional staff, great place I ...
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15 – Return to Banda Aceh

Wednesday August 8, 2018 6:15 a.m. Room in the House, Griya Arida Banda Aceh, Sumatra My time in Kuala Lumpur passed easily. I ran some errands, met up with some friends, and bought a couple ...
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16 – Rain and More Rain in Banda Aceh

Thursday August 9, 2018 4:30 a.m. Griya Arida Hotel Banda Aceh, Sumatra The plan is to get back on my bike this morning and head out of town. I'm still drawn a little bit to ...
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17 – The Coast Road and a Construction Camp

Sunday August 12, 2018 6:20 a.m. Ramshackle Room up the stairs at the Wisma Dian Sigli, Sumatra (100,000 rupiah per night; big room, two single beds with hard wood frames and hard mats; junky table; ...
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18 – Fixing My Bike and Other Gear in Sigli

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 ...
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19 – No Bridge! Crossing the River by Raft

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 ...
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20 – Stomping on Cockroaches

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 ...
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21 – The Road to Lhokseumawe

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 ...
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22 – Fishing Harbour in Idirayeuk

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

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 ...
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24 – Trapped Among Trucks and a Birdsong Competition

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, ...
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25 – Ferry to Klang, Malaysia

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 ...
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26 – KTM Komuter Train to Kuala Lumpur

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 ...
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