At 7:30 we went down and bought our tickets which cost us 101,500 Rupiah (32 pounds) each, then took a taxi – an old beaten up Holden special – out to the airport where we had an hour’s wait for our flight. When the aircraft, a Hawker Siddeley prop jet, arrived, we stood outside and watch the ground crew poking about checking the oil and tyres before we boarded.
The flight over a turquoise sea dotted with a mosaic of small muddy Islands took 50 minutes. As we crossed the Sumatran coast we encountered some turbulence caused by gathering clouds. The masses of cloud resembled stacks of white coral and beneath them, the verdant green of the jungle stretched into the distance without a break save for a scattering of small dark lakes and the occasional logging road. Closer to Pekanbaru the forest had been clear-felled and the land was scarred by a criss-cross pattern of dirt tracks
We landed and collected our bags then walked down to the main road for about 700 metres beyond the airport and caught an Oplet taxi van into town.
A place called Tommy’s homestay had been advertised at Bong’s so we tracked it down and got a room there. We spent the afternoon sweltering in the windless atmosphere and heavy humidity. In the evening Tommy himself arrived, and with the formality of a Shakespearean actor introduced himself with the words “I…am Tommy.”