Should we stay or should we go? Follow the Lonely Planet’s tips, Ulrich’s advice or our gut feeling? For the first time in months we have something of a goal ahead: Getting to Kuala Lumpur before our Indonesian visa runs out and fly up to Thailand to visit my dad for a bit. Maybe this is what makes both of us restless. Or the overwhelming size of Sumatra. Where to stop and explore and where to push through? It is too big to try to do all of it justice in the time we have left.
There are 12 days left on our visa, minus a small contingency to avoid putting us into a tight spot at the end in Tajungbalai. Two more things we both want to do for certain: spend a day at Lake Toba and see the Orang Utans at the rehabilitation center in Bukit Lawang. Getting there equals five to six days of riding. So eight days in total, with four days to spare at the end. Another day spend at a location would be on the cards, but in the end, we could not bring us to use it now.
With uncertainty and that storm of thoughts in our minds we left Ulrich early in the morning, the Bukitinggi regions left unexplored with the intention of reaching lake Toba in two days. Day 10 of almost pure riding since we left Yogyakarta. 2500 km behind us, it feels so close. Still, more than 1000 km to go … the worlds sixth largest island is getting to us.
Even before lunch, we hit a mighty important place regardless of our musings. Here, pretty much in the middle of nowhere we crossed the equator. What a milestone! From Wellington! We made it! First crossing the Tropic of Capricorn in Australia and now onto the northern Hemisphere. Neither of us has ever crossed the equator in anything but a plane. We made it roughly half our way, a quarter of the way around the world (ok, 1000km short …). Nina was so excited that she justly broke our “no souvenir”-rule and bought a t-shirt (she drove a hard bargain to get it, though).
The road continued to alternate between amazing and horrendous from here on out, but the traffic was always light and made up for it. Our stop for the night was in Padangsidempuan, an un-remarkable town half way between Bukitinggi and our destination on the peninsular /island of Samosir. The room was cheap and clean, on the ground floor and the WiFi was good.