19-Jan-2008 -- The story starts from 5N 116E.
On confluence day, we arrived at 1 pm in the city Pematang Siantar. Normally this dusty city serves only a transit point for tourists. According to the guide books there is nothing to see in the city. The average traveler comes from Medan and continues to Lake Toba which is a pleasant lake in higher and cooler countryside.
We however stayed in town, since there was this confluence to be visited with only 8.7 km beeline from the bus station. It was unbearably hot, when we got of the bus. The sun was in the zenith, mercilessly burning us. We were hungry, thirsty and worn out from the long bus ride. But as we got off the bus, there was no tranquility at all: bus ticket sellers were surrounding us, trying to sell us tickets to Parapat (the touristy town every tourist goes). It was hard to hold our nerves. The both of us tried to discuss our situation: should we first find a hotel or….?
We had no chance to make a good plan. Since the crowd around us had noticed that we probably would not take a bus, the taxi drivers surrounded us, yelling at us and almost pulling us into their taxies. Finally, we conceded – probably due to our weakness and lag of endurance. Suddenly we found ourselves in one of these motor-bikes with a side car. Trying to explain the taxi driver about our goal was hopeless. We just started and enjoyed the missing crowd.
A long – a very long journey began. Even though the initial distance was less than 9 km, we never got closer. At some point the distance turned out to be more than 11 km. But whenever I wanted to take a left turn, there was none coming and vice versa with the right turns. Our odyssey was never-ending. We left the main roads and started to cruise in the periphery of Pematang Siantar. Obviously, our driver was confused with our target. He oftentimes stopped and asked peasants for direction. They, however always wanted to know the “name of the place” we were heading to. Since we had no satisfying answer, lengthy discussions followed.
Suddenly our driver ran out of petrol. Asking around for petrol in the neighbourhood was successful and we continued. After 1.5 hours, we arrived at an intersection, where our driver was hesitating to continue. According to the locals the road was too bad for motor-bikes with sidecars. GPS showed: 6.0 km. What should we do now?
The only way we could continue was taking a motor-bike without side car. We hired a motor-bike taxi – who could only take one person. We decided that Elionora and the first taxi-driver would wait at a nearby café, while I would go for the hunt. Now I had a lot of time pressure, since I didn’t want to let everybody wait. My new driver was excellent; he somehow got the idea of confluencing and took us very quickly to a location that was only 900 m from the confluence. Here, the road ended and the hiking part began. My driver- Saediaman – came with me. The terrain got very steep and I had my doubts if we really could make it. We crossed over a foot-bridge and followed a path upwards though a rubber and palm plantation.
At a distance of 350 m we suddenly stood in front of a vertical slope. My driver signaled, that this was the end. But I could not give up. We circled around it and found another footpath that lead 90 m to the confluence. From there we went down through a banana plantation until we found the confluence at the bottom of a steep valley – surrounded by rubber trees.
We quickly hiked and biked back where Elionora was waiting. From there, another adventure would begin. It started to drizzle, to rain, followed by a shower, a downpour and finally it amplified into bucketing. Roads were flooded and turned into streams, we escaped to a shelter and waited for an hour (see picture #9). When we got back into town, it was already dark.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 15:46 pm
- time: 5 hours (from the bus station)
- hiking distance: 900 m (beeline)
- Distance to a road: 200 m (there is a better approach possible than we did)
- Distance to a track: 90 m
- Distance to houses: probably 500 m
- Topography: steep grades, at the bottom of a valley
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 3 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 21 m
- GPS height: 454 m
- Vegetation: plantation of rubber, palm trees, banana plants.
- Weather: overcast, just before a storm, 30° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: Quite deep inland on Sumatra Island. In a cultivated region, with mainly rubber plantations. Location is actually easy to access if the correct route is taken.
- Given Name: The Heavy Downpour Confluence
Story continues at 29N 48E.