06-Apr-2010 -- This was the first successful visit to N0 E100. Thomas Weber who recorded the incomplete visit in 2008 ran out of time. We started out in Bukkitinggi where we bought tickets for the country bus to Kinali. We used time until departure to wolf down a healthy meal and pick up a children’s grammar and an Indonesian-English dictionary which both proved to be very useful. At 1pm the bus rattled off, picking up passengers and cargo here and there. We passed the mountains northeast of Bukkitinggi and descended slowly towards the Manijau Lake. We saw a lot of monkeys along the way.
After a short pause that allowed the passengers to grab a bite at restaurant at the lake we drove up north. At four pm. heavy rain set in and this made us nervous in light of the disaster at Sungaisarik. The map we had brought was pretty inaccurate and the confluence was covered with clouds on every satellite picture we had looked at. So we had to guess the best moment to get off the bus. At around 4:30 pm at a settlement a few kilometres southeast of Kinali we decided to hop off. The sun sets at 6 pm sharp at the equator so we had only about 90 minutes for the last 6, 2 kilometres to the confluence. We put out our rain gear and started walking towards the confluence. After a few hundred meters we realized that we had followed the wrong road and turned around. A young guy stopped his moped besides us and inquired where we were going. He packed us on his bike and drove us back to the intersection. Soon a crowd formed and we tried to explain what we were after. They thought we wanted to visit the Equator Monument at Simpangtiga and brought us there. By that time it was far too late to undertake a serious attempt to visit the confluence on the same day. The young bloke called Edo who picked us up earlier invited us to his home, which we gladly accepted. His family lives in very simple circumstances in the settlement where the road to Kumpulan branches of a few kilometres south of Kinali. His family welcomed us warmly and invited us to stay the night. We invited Edo and his brother to the restaurant down the street and slept crammed in his little room together with his brothers.
The next morning we discussed our plans with Edo and a friend of his. Our disappointingly inaccurate map suggested the best approach would be the road connecting Kinali and Kumpulan.
We followed the tarmac road branching of where we got of the bus the day before and followed it for a few kilometres. After four kilometres we turned left and followed a dirt track leading up the soft hills at the foot of Mount Talaman (2912m). After a few hundred meters we left the motorcycles behind and went on by foot. It was hot and humid, as was to be expected at this latitude. We probed a few trails and followed the most promising. Around 800 meters from the confluence we opted for approaching it directly. We had to cross two hills and creeks to get there, avoiding the densest patches of vegetation wherever possible. Even though we were very cautious we could not avoid being stung by a very aggressive nettle plant. Philipp got away with minor injuries but Katharina suffered severe stings. The painful rash and swelling subsided took a few days to subside. Edo’s friend had given up at this point and returned back to the bikes, while he was determined to see the confluence. While we had brought proper hiking shoes, he followed us on a pair of flimsy plastic sandals. I don’t know how he pulled this feat of. The confluence, as it turned out, was in a thicket beside a small rice field. A local farmer has a small hut about two hundred meters from the spot. He and his wife store products there and live there during harvest months.
We paid a short visit and Edo chatted a little with them. Afterwards we proceeded to take the obligatory pictures and followed a promising trail back. We avoided another ramble trough dense vegetation but had to put up with a long detour in the tropical rain instead. We returned to Edo’s home in the early afternoon, where we took the opportunity of washing our clothes in the river running beside the family’s home. After a copious lunch we said farewell and took a bus to Kumpulan, another seemingly endless odyssey along narrow roads and small villages. From Kumpulan we hitchhiked back to Bukkitinggi.