Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Part Two - Chapter Three

Place: Krui (Sumatra)
Time: August 1994 


I never had a high opinion about people that had actually no reason to go therapy but did it anyhow, I always wondered about their hidden reasons. So, if you consider going to one, let me frankly tell you, you are wasting a lot of money and time. Sounds too general? Well, I exclude from this statement the unfortunate group of people that have suffered real traumatic experiences in their past. I do understand that some people do not get over certain circumstances and shocks in their lives. I rather speak from these cases who like to dramatize small events as if they were catastrophes. In some countries going to therapy is really epidemic such as in the United States. I mean therapy is not a cult or a hip society thing. It should be professional help. Now, you might say to your defense that everybody needs some kind of professional help. Some people might rather be advised of getting a fucking pet, so shut up drama queens. This is at least the easiest way to handle it. On a second thought, poor pet. It will probably have to live up to all your fucked up fantasies, aggression and  bad mood. Yeah, forget about the pet. Just buy a blow up doll, that might work. However, learn  to take some responsibilities in your life. Most important, give your TV a good kick in the face. I really do mean it. This thing is frigging poison! Do not waste two hours of every evening by starring into it. There is nobody inside! It makes depressive because it even does not answer your questions! Worst, in the end you believe in all this paranoid nonsense. You might start listening to Donald Trump and believe all of that shite is for real! Then you want a therapy because you perceive your life as a burden. did you get depressive now because even my tips did not work? Just jump off the bridge. There are anyhow too many people on this planet.  I am not the first who tells you? Well, we might be even right! Oh, now you say that you have only considered therapy? Much, much better, atta-boy. Guess what, you are better than me! I had no reason to go but went, let me tell you, I am speaking out of experience.

Let's get through my advices so far to make you curious if I could be right again, this part is dedicated to all the non-believers. First, there was the story with the ladyboys. The people that wanted to prove me wrong probably took the hairiest woman with the deepest voice out of a club. Then they wondered why this chick had a dick. Then, I tried to give you some guidance concerning drugs. Some people wanted to show me that they were stronger minded heroes and even took crack. Well they suddenly got convinced that it was not the right thing. The following weekend, they decorated their room with vomit as they tried to get away from it. Well yeah no surprise their mother got pissed off and their girlfriend did not want to see them anymore. Then, there were the super cool dudes who thought it was more fun to let shrooms take over their minds. They ended up being fished out of the water as they tried to swim to Bangkok and were hospitalized. Now, they have to suffer under a cruel nurse who is reading this blog to them only to torture them even more. No wonder! If you were ever one of the border cases who only nearly disobeyed my suggestions, please listen now carefully. You do not need therapy only because you are kinda paranoid. Look, I believe that the National Security Agency of Singapore is reading my blog but still I would not go to a shrink again. Do you understand me? You are not crazy! It does not qualify you to call yourself mental imbalanced only because you read my text!

My own personal experiences with a shrink were eye opening but not problem solving at all. Yeah, really, I tried this therapy thingy! At the end I wondered if I had misunderstood the concept and failed because I could not help the psychiatrist. I hadn't known previously that people go to therapy to help the shrink, I had always believed it was the other way around. That is kinda normal! Well yeah, I went into therapy because I did not want to be one of these fucked up social workers. You know, I suspect that subject is unfortunately mainly studied by people who want to learn how to project their problems on others. I have met too many of this specific kind. So, I went into the treatment and tried to tell the guy my weirdest dreams and fantasies. Every time, his only response was that my feelings and thoughts were normal. You are reading the blog of somebody who was medical approved to be normal! After more than one year of therapy, I felt sorry but I had to give up on the guy. I could not help him! I mean as a sixth semester student of social work I clearly spotted that he had a bad childhood. He was probably still dressed by his mother. I could not explain why he pulled his socks always nearly up to his knees but had way too short pants. He was probably suffering under compulsive disorder, the poor guy. As I quit the treatment, short before I went to Indonesia, he was not surprised at all. As you probably can already guess, the words that he told me at the end were 'I told you all the time that you were normal'. Fuck yeah, compared with him I was even so normal that I was already weird again. So, do not waste your time. You do not need therapy only something in your life seems deranged as you are hopefully very normal. At least compared to most shrinks that dare to offer you their services. Medical treatment through a psychiatrist shall help to find to yourself. Spend some more money and go on a hard trip to find to yourself. Travel alone and go to places that let you face yourself. This is a much better way to see something else and experience new situation. That helps way better than going once or twice a week to a mental fuckwit and putting yourself on his sweaty sofa. Think alone of the bacteria that has assembled on this piece of furniture. The mean thing about shrinks is that we have to pay them even money. They get paid for listening to our stories. They should pay us for coming to them. At least if they cannot give us any help. Of course, again, I do not mean the people that really need professional help. My personal problems were still the same after that therapy, maybe I did not have any after all.


So far, I had kept myself in rather civilized surroundings, I hoped that Sumatra would change that. The first three days of my trip through the utmost South of Sumatra became temporarily the climax of my face-yourself-you-coward therapy. Bali was only somewhere a piece of memory and Imam was left behind. I was on my own again on a 650 kilometer lag with local buses surrounded only by Indonesians. My Bahasa which I had mainly learned so quickly because of Imam came in handy now. On the first day, I set over from Java to Sumatra on a ferry where I spotted only one foreign couple. I was not here because of meeting Westerners, just the opposite. So, I lost sight of them quickly. Then, I was on my own, the real adventure of meeting myself had finally started now.

The following couple of days I occupied myself in talking to myself in thoughts about reality, me and reality, my perception of reality and pure reality again. The impressions of my surroundings became closer but I kept myself a mental distance. All my senses, if smell, hearing, seeing, taste and even feeling became more intense. This was Asia, I was the foreigner and the reality was that I somehow did not belong here. I was the only foreigner in the bus up to Bandar Lampung. I had expected the locals to be more curious. Instead they either gazed openly in shock at me or they looked shy into my direction. If I tried to make contact, they pretended not to understand or even to be deaf. After a while. I gave up looking for contact and limited myself on other perception such as the smells on the market, the voices talking in many dialects and smaller events that happened in front of my eyes.  We arrived in the city and it was not something I could seriously care for. A big, noisy, chaotic and particularly smelly place. I arrived there after a ten hour journey with the bus and tried to find a decent guesthouse at my budget. After two hours of searching I gave up and took the most proper looking one which was still terrible enough. If there had been any bus in the evening, I would have left the place immediately. Well, I chose the way up the coast and not the quickest route as I hoped to have some views on the coast. However, what will you expect from a metropolitan in Indonesia? Chaos! So, I talked to my alter ego in my mind that told me it was a mistake to come here. The other side of myself just denied that and stated that now the tow parts of my self had finally time to discuss with each other.

On the second day in South Sumatra, I spent again most of the time in the bus and got to a village named Krui. Another place that my best entertainment consisted in talking to myself as the population of that placed showed as rather hostile. I came even to the topic to discuss with myself the possibility if they mistook me for somebody else and if it could end dangerously. I don't want to talk bad about that place, maybe it was just only myself. Maybe, I slowly took a rather mad look in my unwashed clothes and with my large backpack. I have even heard the rumour that it was not such a bad place for surfing. Believe me, even as a non-surfer, there are better places. At least locations with higher waves which are easier accessible. It is just not worth traveling through South Sumatra only to get there. This village had not even an ATM machine and I was short on money.

I have come around a lot in South East Asia and what made this place special, was the behaviour of the people. I have never met such attitude towards foreigners at any other place in South East Asia. One of the most obscene things was that the adults of this village had no issue that their kids were throwing stones after me. Later, I heard that this happened to other travelers there as well, so it was not even personal. Another nuisance was that I felt watched all the time. In the evening, I saw sudden movement of my curtains and as I looked out of the window I saw some people running away. something was creepy about this place. 

The following morning, I hoped to get as quickly, before falling totally into madness, out of this crazy place. The bus was scheduled at 11 a.m. Indeed, to my surprise, the bus was there but it had some problems and had to be repaired. I had made already my experiences that Indonesians are not directly the most punctual people. We waited around two hours and no bus came into sight. I knew that I would need around eight hours to get to Bengkulu. I listened to the other people that waited for the bus. They got already concerned. This was not normal for Indonesians. But, they talked about that some of the bus drivers considered it as too dangerous to drive in the night. We had to be very lucky if there was not a too long delay. It seemed already there nearly impossible to arrive the city the same day. The sun grilled literally my brain and insane actions played inside my mind.

 There were too many weird actions happening in this village and there had to be a reason, my fantasies took me adrift. I imagined that I would not be able to leave that place and that all of the people around me were cannibals or even worse, they were vampires. Only a few people showed in broad daylight and maybe they were the ghouls. Looking out for some stranded journey man who had missed the bus and would be happy to be taken into one of their cursed homes. Suddenly, in this context, the stone throwing kids made sense. They were the messengers of 'Get into the houses, it is too dangerous in the streets. Our parents are waiting for their meal already.' Somehow, the stone throwing gang of kids did not show up here at the bus station. Had their parents already given up on their prey and saw them with dark minds leaving their nest? It was a strange place, in the dark they tried to watch you and in daytime you could hardly see any person on the street. It somehow became now meaning that the owner of the guesthouse had advised 'Do not go out in the dark.' That was then as well the time that the stray dogs showed their aggression. Did they turn into monsters like werewolves? Even if they did not change their look, they were extremely dangerous after sunset. The sun was definitely doing no good on me.

I fell into imaginations based on memories from weird circumstances back on Bali about the dogs. I had been surrounded by hordes of them many times. These lice carrying rabies plagues came only out when it was dark. They bark at you and are already ready to attack, then it needs a lot of self-consciousness, part bravery and coolness to avoid ending up torn into parts. Do not panic when they bark and snap at you. It looks worse then it is. The best method is to approach the leader of this pack. Go directly toward it and clap a couple of times into your hands. The noise will irritate them and they will run first a couple of meters away. Don't worry, they will come back to you and try the game again. Just repeat the action until you have come out of their area. It looks crazy or even stupid but it always has worked for me. Never show that you are weaker, they don't know that, they still believe your teeth are higher than theirs so you must be superior. This even helps with a pack of thirty dogs. Really smart creatures, they are not. 

If you are a stranger at a place you have less options and information then the locals, I started to be extremely confused. Finally, after a long time of waiting, a bus arrived and I hoped that it was the replacement for the broken one. It wasn't. I figured that there was one bus going south and the other one going north on one day. There were no more bus connections, only this one. I saw how they lifted the bus and checked on the brakes, then they changed the wheels. Following, the driver got into the bus and drove away. This had to be the trial, the bus should be safe before going on the tour. A further half hour passed but the bus did not come back. Instead two young guys got a motorcycle and drove away with some tools. The bus must have been broken down again. I got hungry but I had run out of money, my traveler cheques were here without any value. I had to change them in Bengkulu. First, I had to get to there. Without any money, the last I spent on the bus ticket, with an empty stomach and hardly any water left, I felt stranded in this damn village. One further hour passed, it was now around 4 p.m. Finally, the bus came back and was now ready to go. Half of the initial waiting passengers had left, they were probably locals and had postponed their journey for the next day. I had no other option then to leave and to try my luck, after Krui there had to be light at the end of the tunnel.

Sumatra is an extreme place with outstanding nature but amazingly many differences among its interesting people. I had left Krui and now I hoped that everything would run better. I checked with the driver if it was possible to reach Bengkulu still on that day. He smiled at me but did not reply first. Then, as I did not expect with an answer anymore, he told me that we would at least get to Bintuhan. I had never heard of that place. Could it be worse than Krui? One old man heard my inquiry if there were any cheap guesthouses and banks. He offered me instantly to sleep in his house and told me about his beautiful daughter. I was positively surprised to meetfinally original hospitality again. However, I had grown skeptical after Bandar Lampung and Krui. I was no longer in the mood of staying longer at places that might be heaven but could be hell. I felt also a little bit estranged by his offer. Why did he have to mention his daughter? In my narrow mind at that time, there were only two possibilities. His daughter was not that beautiful or he saw in me as a white guy an option to improve with my support his standard of living. Friendly, I rejected his generous offer. He did not mind that and informed me that I would have no problems to exchange money in his town. Now, on a second thought, I knew that he had no bad will to offer me shelter at his place. This guy had been extremely cordial. It gave me hope for further journeys. In the darkest hour, under the worst conditions, you could meet amiable people. You just had to stay calm, and be friendly and peaceful. Maybe Krui had just been the one bad place that spoiled my impressions of South Sumatra. Probably the people here were more friendly as at this cursed place.

If you really want adventure, you can hardly seriously expect to meet the challenge of your life if you hop out of the convenient plane or in a limousine. Try it with traveling the means of the local people. The bus made a stop after two hours drive through the winding roads along the coast. Suddenly, the bus driver had jumped the brakes. I heard some movements from the top. Had monkeys jumped on it? Worse, he had to stop the bus and climbed up. There was something about the luggage. He had to tow it again as it was short before falling off. Now imagine, you are going up a road which directly borders to an abyss to the sea. You have already run out off money and abruptly all your clothes say good bye to you. Wouldn't that be a fantastic setting? Well, lucky me, it did not come to that anticlimax. Instead at the next possible occasion, the bus made a stop. The luggage was taken care off one more time. Another piece of adventure that I only experienced because I had avoided all comfort on my journey.

Under described circumstances, I did not only find excitement and adventure but I saw another face of South Sumatra. I would like to go back to the southern tip of the island to see one more time if it was only the people around Krui that were strange. On this day, I started to realize that it was luck which made a trip pleasant. There was not a big chance to plan a perfect trip. I would also not trust any information of other travelers about certain places. Even Krui might have changed in the past years.  It is just your personal experience and also depends on your expectations, best to have none at all. On the journey between  Krui and Bintuhan, I had given up on prospects and that became the moment that everything began progressing much smoother than before. It became also much more fun to travel these roads. Small events gave me joy and made me happy. As an example, as the bus stopped and the driver took care of the luggage, out of nothing I was served good Padang food. I first declined as I did not have any money to pay with. I even did not know who had ordered it. I was first a bit critical as I believed that this was another trick to get some money out of me. I was again very wrong with my suspicion. I did not have to pay anything for it. Somebody must have covered the bill for me. This was again something that showed me South Sumatra could not be easily judged by only one place. The largest and most important part of my stay in South Sumatra made these unexpected events, that is why I still remember it very well.


There were a lot of natural impressions on my journey on these first three days through Sumatra's South, I really started to enjoy them after I had left Krui behind. Hundreds of kilometers of the street lead through endless rice terraces which were encircled by palms and pines. Sometimes we came through wealthier villages with amazing longhouses made from rosewood and stone pillars. These were decorated with engravings and had nice roofs. I could see a many richer families that had settled in these stone pavilions for a round of tea. We came through massive forests but unfortunately parts of them showed also the first signs of deforestation. Now on this bus tour to Bintuhan, It was close to sunset. A cooling breeze blew into the open windows of our vehicle, it was refreshing after the hot day.  The bus crossed smaller streams of crystal clear water and then we finally reached my next destination. Darkness had already settled and so the driver told me that he would not continue the journey. I had to wait until the following morning. The arrival in this village meant for me that I had overcome the deepest point in my journey. I felt like reborn again.

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