Thursday, March 12, 2009

The West Coast Road

My Indonesian companions on the trip are taking a break at a mosque in a small village for a special Friday prayer service that is important to Muslims. While sitting in the Land Cruiser, I though I’d use the time to post a quick blog. Thanks to Ken for the Telkomsel flash wifi card.

What a treat the west coast road has been after the rough roads in the mountains. The road is primarily flat and well-paved although they did throw in a few hill climbs, curvy sections, and some pot holes to keep the driver on his toes. We’ve been able to make good time between site visits. When the road passes close to the
sea it's very beautiful - there are some great beaches - but no time to stop.

This morning, as we left Meulaboh, the road quality took a bit of a downturn but still it was mostly good pavement.
I’m told the final section which we should traverse tomorrow from Calang to Banda Aceh is another bad stretch so I’m preparing for more hand grip holding. (BTW - Indonesian “c’s” are pronounced like the “ch” in “chapter” so Calang is pronounced “Chalang”.)

The east coast road is the primary route between the capitol of Sumatra, Medan, and Banda Aceh, so it’s full of cars, buses and trucks. The west coast road is much less travelled, that makes the going much easier – although being a quieter road it seems to attract many more animals, especially cows, who use the road like the rest of us.

After the lofty heights of 6200’+ in the mountains I’ve spent the last few days at 50’ or less. The land along this coast is very flat and low until it reaches the mountains to the east where it shoots back up again. Much of this shoreline was badly damaged by the tsunami, particularly the cities of Meulaboh and Calang.

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