08-Apr-2010 -- This was the first visit of S2 E101. The confluence lies northeast of a small town called Indrapura near the coast. I started early in the morning around 140 km north of the confluence in Pantai Bungus which seems to be the local backpacker hotspot.
I took a minibus south which dropped me off just a few kilometers south. At the bus station I hired a young boy with a motorcycle to bring me to Painan. This is where things started to go horribly wrong: he misunderstood me and took me to a small village at the coast completely surrounded by mountains and totally isolated. There was no way to Painan, so I had to ask around for someone to bring me back where I started one hour ago. The whole detour took me two hours and left me almost where I had started. I wasted another hour waiting for a bus but at least I had nice company. A retired public servant who was married more than 9 times and a pro badminton player on vacation from Jakarta helped me pass the time.
The bus to Painan which only brought 30 kilometres closer to my goal took another 90 minutes. I was a little exasperated at this pace it was impossible to reach the confluence before dusk. In Painan I had to ask for a minibus to Indrapura. I managed to get a seat in a shared taxi. At first the driver cruised aimlessly around and searched for other passengers before he decided to fill the empty seats at the local hospital. Soon we were packing a very frail Indonesian in her 80ies, her nurse and some of her relatives in the backseat. The rest of the car was filled with groceries and coconuts. We left Painan early in the afternoon. The drive south seemed endless. I arrived at Indrapura around 4.30 pm and the CP was still 6 kilometres away. This left me less than 90 minutes before sundown. I had to guess which road to take up the hills and hoped to pick right one. I followed a dirt track north east which brought me to a floodgate on the Indra River. The satellite pictures of the area showed me that the confluence should be south of the river, so I had to backup almost a kilometre before I found a suitable track branching of. This cost me another 20 minutes.
I was very nervous by then. I decided to drink all the water I had left and started to run towards the confluence. Like clockwork the afternoon rain started at five which was a relief. Around 3 kilometres around the confluence I got lucky: 3 young boys in a completely decrepit Nissan truck approached me from behind and took me one kilometre with them. They stopped at the main building of an oil palm plantation. It was difficult to find the right way through the maze of dirt tracks running through the plantation. The last 700 meters were untouched Indonesian jungle. I arrived just 15 minutes before sundown and took the necessary pictures.
On the way back I met the boys with their truck again. This time the vehicle was loaded with an enormous amount of palm fruits. They offered to take me back to Indrapura but at first I didn’t see how this would be possible. One of the boys rode on the hood, I was stuffed at the cabin and the third one tried to cling to the side of the vehicle. The drive downhill was dangerous and reminded of scenes I had seen on TV broadcasts of Rallies. The vehicle broke down at least two times during the short journey. Back at Indrapura I had to ask around for another shared taxi back to Padang. Soon I was again sitting in the backseat of a car cruising aimlessly in search of other passengers but at this point I was so exhausted and tired I didn’t care. Half way back we stopped for a late meal which I relished very much. I celebrated the confluence with an enormous amount of delicious Indonesian food. I arrived in Pantai Bungus at around 1 am.