FRIDAY 24 APRIL – EQUATORIAL CROSSING

We caught the “7:30” bus bound for Bukittinggi, 160km away in the Southern Hemisphere. The road passed through the jungle on the flats around Pekanbaru and then, after crossing several swift brown rivers, climbed over ranges of steep, densely-forested hills.

We stopped for a lunch break about 75 km from Bukittinggi then, at 1:05PM, we crossed the equator for the last time and we were once again and our home hemisphere, albeit a long way from home yet. The equator was marked by a peeling, white-painted stone globe amid the jungle.

Bukittinggi’s climate was immediately more pleasant than that of Pekanbaru’s. Built around and over a 900 m high hill (Bukit = mound; Tinggi = high) cloven by a deep gorge, and flanked on three sides by brooding volcanoes, the town was quiet and laid-back; its many winding streets linked by steep stairways.

We took a 5,000 Rupiah room in the hotel Tiga Balai on Jalan Ahmad Yani, and spent what remained of the day wandering around trying to keep out of the way of trekking guides!¹

¹Bikittinggi is the starting point for multi-day treks into the Sumatran Highlands.

Above and below: The Hotel Tigo Balai as it appears today. (Photo: Google StreetView)

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