Getting around in the Netherlands or Thailand, especially Bangkok is quite straightforward. You go to your nearest stop, and you just wait for the bus or train to arrive, hop on, check-in or pay, and hop off. That’s easy right? Well, in Indonesia it’s a little bit of a different story. Bus stops? They don’t exist. Stop buttons? They don’t exist either. Do we already know how to use it? Nope. But surprisingly, in the end, it just turns out fine. How? We still don’t know…

We wanted to go from Parapat, on the mainland, to TukTuk, on Samosir island. We knew we had to use a boat, because swimming with a backpack is a bit challenging. We may look like turtles with our backpacks on, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that we share the same swimming skills. Another group was planning to go to TukTuk as well, and they apparently asked the reception of the hotel we stayed in in Parapat to arrange something. They pointed them towards the ‘public transportation system’, which, in the end, turned out to be somewhat different from what we expected from public transport. A hotel worker just stopped a little van that was driving by, and was gesturing to the other group to enter. And off they were. Another van was stopped for us, and we were good to go as well. Well, that was after we forced ourselves and our luggage through the tiny door. We told the driver our destination, and the experience started.

It was all fun and games, and we were enjoying the ride, until the atmosphere suddenly changed. Apart from the driver and our teammates, another ‘passenger’ was enjoying the ride as well. He wasn’t sitting next to the driver, as he liked some company from us, as Dutch and Thai students. Although he didn’t say much, he surely grabbed our attention. In Thailand they would call the passenger ‘Peter’. In the Netherlands some people would call him/her ‘Zaza’. All of a sudden, we arrived at the harbour, paid the driver and said goodbye to our newly made friend. Off to the boat, which brought us to TukTuk village on Samosir Island.

We still don’t really know how we arrived at the harbour, but it sure was an experience to remember. Although things are so different than they are in our home countries, we still managed and really enjoyed the ride. Even the smallest things, like going from A to B, can turn out to be highlights of the day. It’s the little things like these that are so enjoyable and entertaining, and the cockroach sure helped with that.

Written by: Kanokpond (Pear) Chanrat & Thijs van Toorenenburg