By: Маgus Kutabarat
After starting in Medan, Billy Bob decided to visit Bukit Lawang. He first took the short train journey to Binjai. Young people said ‘hello mister’, and children called him ‘bule’.
All over the world, people who have to live beside a railway line are usually the poorest. They come to the city looking for work and struggle to survive. Plastic rubbish is either left all over the ground or burned in small heaps. The toxic smoke and smell of burning plastic is the last concern of the poor, and most people accept this.
As an environmental consultant, Billy Bob was not happy about this, but understood the situation. In the west, it was only 2 generations ago people had the same attitude and the overuse of plastic bags is still a big problem to challenge.
At Binjai he took the bus to Bukit Lawang. Two other backpackers were on the bus with many locals. They were excited to be going to see orang utan in the jungle. Their bus driver was safe but many other mini-buses and cars drove fast and too risky overtaking. Billy Bob noticed that while they were not patient drivers, everyone else was tolerant of them and always gave just enough space to pass. There was no road rage. In the west this would be the opposite. Westerners would not be tolerant.
School students were travelling on the roof of a mini-bus. It reminded him of his travels to Nepal where he did the same. But 2 boys were hanging out the door which disturbed him.
The road passed a lot of palm oil plantations. Palm oil is used in thousands of products, from biscuits to bio-fuel. Every year they burning of the forests to plant more creates huge health and environmental problems. The companies don’t have to burn the forests, but its the cheaper economics. Business must continue but it should be sustainable. But Billy Bob forgot that for now, and enjoyed the journey.
At Bukit Lawang he walked through the village along the river and chose a guesthouse. A few bule travellers were staying there. They had already been trekking in the jungle and said they saw 4 orangutan, and found 10 ‘lintah’ on their skin and inside their shoes, sucking their blood.
Billy Bob went to sleep that night listening to the river flow past… (to be continued)