From A Much Happier Traveller

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all well in good old SA and Londres!Apologies for my last somewhat negative email! It's amazing what 8 hours sleep in 4 days does to you!

Well, after I left you, tired and depressed, we ventured out to sort out our tickets, which we didn't as there is no Qantas in KL but I won't bore you with the details! So we decided to take in what little sights were left. While my back was turned, Shaun decided to donate a good deal of our daily budget to a 'monk' wanting to 'build a temple'!!!!!! I decided on the spot that KL was making us mad and Shaun was promplty fired as Minister of Finance!

We took the bus first thing next morning to Melaka, which is a sleepy little town on the coast. We relaxed immediately and took off to see some sights! I must say I am mighty proud of my Dutch heritage! We seriously conquered most of the world!!! Moving on, we had a good night's sleep (of paramount importance for anyone thinking of undertaking traveling!) and headed out to Sumatra on the first ferry in the morning. After 4 hours of easy passage and watching a Japanese film about a man-eating fish on the loose, we were greeted at the port of Dumai by very friendly customs officials who sorted out or visa's and then took us in a taxi to a company that ran buses out of Dumai. Dumai is a one horse town that is too hot and too dirty so everyone wants to head out as soon as possible. Anyway, we got seriously ripped off by the bus company who charged us twice the going rate for an '8hr' bus trip which left late, the aircon didn't work and it took 11hrs! So once again we arrived in a town we didn't know, at 4am in the morning, extremely tired and smelling of the Sumatran equivalent of Curry!

When we woke up the next morning however, all was forgotten! Bukkitingi is the most stunning town on a hill surrounded by 3 volcano's and boasts some of the most friendly people I have ever met (but I suppose compared to Londoners, a block of ice is friendly!! Just kidding Mark and Dizzi!) We went to the park to get a view of two of the volcano's and spent the entire afternoon chatting to locals who all want to know if we are from RSA, then 'why you not Negro!?!?' We watched sundown with Pakra, a guy they called Pixie and Vampire (that is what they looked like in the photo's we took) and shared in their bottle of local whiskey while talking nonsense and learning a few local words. When we finally stumbled away, we met another guy called Mr Wendra who invited us to a wedding accross the street, where we ate the local delicasies such as curried chicken feet and fishheads!! Yum! Once again, everyone was so friendly and the kids all want to poke Shaun to see if he'll bite them (he towers over even the tallest Sumatran by at least a meter!)

Today on our way to lunch we were stopped by some teenagers who wanted to practice their English with us(everyone wants to learn to speak English for trade and tourism) so we stood chatting for a while explaining once again 'why we not Negro' and they asked us to meet them at the clock tower at 3. So we did and were met by their entire school out on a class trip to learn English! We were surrounded by smiling kids all wanting us to sign their books and take 'photoglaphs', which eventually also turned into shirt signing! I am not exagerating that it took us 45mins and an ice-cream to eventually get rid of the very grateful kids and teachers (grateful because we said we would visit their village . . . .hmmmm!) With a sore wrist and an idea of what celebs must feel like (seriously not exagerating - have pictures toprove it!), we escaped into the Zoo and between more pictures with locals (everyone shoving their kids into Shaun's arms to make sure that such a monstrosity of a man is actually real), we did manage to see a Sumatran Tiger, bears, elephants and Urang Utangs. Made me sad to see such beautiful creatures behind cages though! Anyway, hanging out here until Tuesday when we are treking with a guide up to lake Maningau which is meant to be amazing, and we'll probably stay there for a few days.