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Sumatra Part 01

From Malaysia to Sumatra by Bicycle and Ferry

Sunday, November 15, 2015 I'm already in Sumatra inside a fairly grubby little hotel in the coastal and port town of Tanjungbalai. However, before I describe the hotel, I should go back to getting the ...
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First Full Day in Tanjungbalai, Sumatra

Monday, November 16, 2015 Well, according to my smartphone (which has access to the Internet), it is 8:30 in the morning. According to my watch, alarm clock, and computer, it is 9:30. It seems that ...
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The Obstacle Course – Walking in Tanjungbalai

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 I seem to be stuck in a time loop. Every morning is exactly like the previous one. I wake up after a long sleep but still feel fatigued. Then I hear ...
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Changing Hotels and Meeting the People of Tanjungbalai

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 In the past, I've always had either a notebook and a pen (a very slow method of writing for me), or my AlphaSmart NEO (which is a brilliant and simple writing ...
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Facebook Culture and Martabak Mesir

Thursday, November 19, 2015 This should be a short journal entry today. I don't feel the urge to write much, and I didn't do very much yesterday that I could write about. It was sunny ...
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Hitting the Streets with My Real Camera

Friday, November 20, 2015 Day seven of my time in Sumatra has begun with more rain. It rained for much of last night, and it is quite wet outside. On the positive side, the rain ...
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A Visit to an English Cram School

Saturday, November 21, 2015 Yesterday, Sri invited me to visit her English school. It was all terribly confusing and somewhat unsatisfactory. The confusion extended even to the name of her school. In Indonesia, they call ...
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Photowalk Across the Bridge in Tanjungbalai

Sunday, November 22, 2015 It rained steadily all last night, but the sun is out now and the skies are bright and clear. The plan for today is to take my bike out and ride ...
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Bike Ride to the Asahan Dock

Monday, November 23, 2015 The sun stayed shining yesterday, and my bike ride was a success. I prepared my bike carefully before I left, but in the process I forgot about my body, and I ...
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A Walk in a Local Neighborhood

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 It is 7:30 in the morning as I sit on the bed in my little hotel room. I just made a cup of coffee on my new campstove. I know for ...
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A Riverside Walk

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 It's another rainy morning. I don't understand exactly why, but when it rains, my room can be overhwelmed with the smell of fish. Apparently, the rain water mixes with fish somewhere ...
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Cross-Cultural Confusion

Thursday, November 26, 2015 I had some newish experiences yesterday on top of some familiar ones. The familiar ones came with another camera walkabout. This time, I put my 120mm macro lens on the Olympus ...
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Getting Used to Lots of Noise

 Saturday, November 28, 2015 Things have taken a small turn for the worse in the last 24 hours. Something I ate or drank or came in contact with has made me ill. The jury is ...
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Getting a Haircut

Sunday, November 29, 2015 As far as the weather goes, I'm a bit of a broken record. It's 8:30 in the morning, and it is raining. It has been raining for about two hours. I ...
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Giving Me the Finger – In a Friendly Way

Monday, November 30, 2015 Rain? Yes. Traffic noise? Yep. Hot cup of coffee by my side? Of course. Feeling good? For sure. Yesterday was a lazy day as far as exploring is concerned. I didn't ...
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Irritability and Mango Juice

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 I was a bit tired and irritable yesterday. I keep saying that the noise here doesn't bother me, but I don't think I get much sleep. Last night, I switched out ...
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Bales of Used Clothing

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 I have to concentrate really hard to think back to what happened yesterday. I'm not sure why. It could be because I'm very tired again. I've come down with some kind ...
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Motorcycle English Club

Thursday, December 3, 2015­­ I've written a lot and thought a lot in recent days about cross-cultural communication problems, and yesterday was another perfect example of that. It involves the woman, Rismah, who had come ...
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A Shipbuilding Yard

Friday, December 4, 2015 It appears I may have opened the floodgates. I got a message from someone else on Facebook asking me if I would help them out with a school English project. They ...
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Tech Talk and More English Students

Saturday, December 5, 2015 I just hung up the phone after a 51-minute Skype chat with my brother back in Canada. Those calls are always interesting because I'm intensely aware of the vast difference between ...
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Markets and Lord of the Flies

Sunday, December 6, 2015 A powerful thunderstorm was raging when I woke up this morning and got out of bed. It will probably clear up in a while, but for now I'm inside and drinking ...
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Does Budget Travel Skew Perceptions?

Monday, December 7, 2015 The rain did clear up yesterday, and I went for a short photowalk late in the afternoon. I went down a familiar market street through the fish district and then to ...
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A Fire and Wide-Angle Photography

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 Another relatively quiet day yesterday. However, a couple of things happened. The biggest excitement occurred in the morning. I was sitting out on the balcony drinking a cup of coffee when ...
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Bracketing and AEL on My Olympus

Friday, December 11, 2015 Photography adventures continue more than anything else. I sat down with my camera and went over all the controls before I went out yesterday. I wanted to refresh my memory about ...
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SIM Card Confusion and a Chicken Dinner

Saturday, December 12, 2015 I had a few more experiences yesterday that fit in with my theme of cross-cultural differences and how hard it is to really, truly understand how things work in other places ...
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Northern Sumatra Cycling Route

View route map for Northern Sumatra Loop - Tanjungbalai-Banda Aceh on plotaroute.com ...
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Falling Ill at Christmas and 1st Visit to Immigration

Friday, December 25, 2015 Merry Christmas to all. I've been neglecting my journal lately. I guess I haven't had anything interesting to say for a while. And then I became quite sick. It seems to ...
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Another English Class Interview Project

Saturday, December 26, 2015 My get-together with the students was okay. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. At first, I didn't think they were going to show up. I had sent the main organizer, ...
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Nightmare of the Tanjungbalai Immigration Office

Thursday, December 31, 2015 Things have not gone well as far as my visa extension is concerned. In fact, it has gone horribly. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I always have poor luck when ...
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Crushed in a New Year’s Eve Crowd

Friday, January 1, 2016 Happy New Year. Well, the end of the year was not exactly great. I was sick a lot and then I had all the problems with my visa and immigration. I ...
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Ferry Ticket Confusion

Thursday, January 7, 2016 Today is the big day. It's time for my trip back to immigration. Two days ago, I met up with Rea, and we put together all the documents that I needed ...
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Tanjungbalai Immigration Office Nightmare Continues

Friday, January 8, 2016 This is the day after my momentous trip to immigration to finally get my visa extension. So the question is, "Do I have it?" The answer, not surprisingly, is "No, I ...
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Tanjungbalai Immigration Nightmare – Final Chapter

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 At long, long last, I have my 30-day visa extension. In total, it took 14 days, countless hours, and incredble stress and frustration. But I got some valuable life lessons (assuming ...
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Fruit Juice, Dinner, and a Travelling Carnival

Thursday, January 14, 2016 Well, the dust has settled, and I have my 30-day tourist visa extension. It allows me to stay in Indonesia until February 10. I wrote a summary of my terrible experience, ...
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Leaving Tanjungbalai and a Great Day in Kisaran

Sunday, March 6, 2016 It was finally time to load up the bike and head into the interior of Sumatra. I'd delayed so long that my tourist visa was about to expire again. It's a ...
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Relaxing and Good Food in Kisaran

Monday, March 7, 2016 6:30 a.m. Hotel Cahaya Asahan, Kisaran, Sumatra Just a quick note to start my day. Today, I plan to ride to the town of Lima Puluh. It's only about forty kilometers ...
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A Night at the Wismah Idola in Perdagangan

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 6:50 a.m. Wismah Idola, Perdagangan, Sumatra I could have and probably should have gotten up earlier this morning. I was awake around 4:30 and probably well-rested (since I went to bed ...
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Cycling to Siantar and the Hunt for Water

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 5:40 a.m. Room 7 on the second floor of the Tamariah Losmen, Siantar, Sumatra Getting out of Perdagangan took longer than I expected, and I wasn't on the road until after ...
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Visa Extension at the Siantar Immigration Office

Thursday, March 10, 2016 7:00 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen Siantar, Sumatra My quest to renew my tourist visa has not gotten off to a good start. I arrived in Siantar too late on Tuesday ...
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Illness and Struggling with ATMs

Friday, March 11, 2016 8:10 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen Sumatra It's a bit later in the morning for my journal session. That is because I have no need to go to immigration this morning ...
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More Illness and a Walk to the Giant Buddha

Sunday, March 13, 2016 11:00 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Hostel Siantar, Sumatra Well, my life continues to be dominated by illness. I really wish I knew what made me sick. It's the ultimate mystery. Was ...
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Thief! A Stolen Smart Phone in Siantar

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 5:40 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen Siantar, Sumatra I'm not in a good mood this morning. I barely slept. Every time I closed my eyes, I relived the moment when a ...
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Thief! Part 2 – A Police Report

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 7:35 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen Siantar, Sumatra My return to the police station went, perhaps, much better than I anticipated. There were some of the expected, though I think avoidable, ...
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Thief! Part 3 – Follow-Up at the Police Station

Saturday, March 19, 2016 8:00 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen Siantar, Sumatra My life continues to be dominated by the theft of my phone. I now see thieves everywhere. I suspect everyone on the street—especially ...
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Thief! Part 4 – A Resultant Bad Mood

Sunday, March 20, 2016 6:30 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen Siantar, Sumatra I didn't make much progress in my search for a new smart phone yesterday. Once I started my research into the Xiaomi brand, ...
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Compromising and Buying a Cheap Phone

Monday, March 21, 2016 7:30 a.m. Room 7, Tamariah Losmen Siantar, Sumatra The search for a cell phone continues. After doing a lot of research, I had nearly made up my mind to take a ...
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