I invested this day in starting to make plans. My newly acquired Lonely Planet Indonesia proved to be written in a highly entertaining cynical spirit and as I read on it gradually dawned on me how much of a reflection of the country that was. Sumatra sounded like it was going to be arguably the toughest challenge of my trip to date, and there had been many, I had to be very honest with myself and question whether I still had the necessary resolve. Getting constantly soaking wet and enduring seriously tough trekking and heat whilst suffering plagues of mosquitos and leeches, I was underequipped if nothing else. Travel was reputedly so hard and the place so huge that it would simply also take too much time. One of the recommended itineraries in the book which traversed only half of Sumatra was deemed to take a month. We are talking one of the worlds most expansive countries, spanning a whopping 5000 kilometres from Banda Aceh in the west to the Papua New Guinea border, with muddy unsealed roads and countless dodgy ferry crossings. Unfortunately it did also sound equally fascinating with a couple of bonuses thrown in to add to the mix. First of all, Aceh province had just opened up after a particularlly long and nasty civil war, and there was also the spectacle of experiencing at first hand the devastation wrought by the 2004 tsunami. It sounded horrendous, with whole cities wiped off the map, infrastructure such as the west coast road being crippled and mass graves containing hundreds of thousands of unidentified bodies. Unfortunately in its wake there followed mass unemployment and poverty, the few rare tourists there now were accordingly like golddust and so were doomed to suffer constant hassles and rip offs. Oh yeah, and it was Islamic too. Could I really still endure all of that crap?
Later whilst plugging away in a net cafe I couldnt help but overhear an unusual Ozzie-German couple who I volunteered advice to. They later unwittingly sat next to me in a restaurant and so we got talking. It turned out that Ashley from Perth was returning home after having worked the last 7 years in an Edinburgh backpackers hostel, where he had met Tina 5 years ago. Remarkably, he proferred that his fathers family was originally from Dunfermline and I had to tell him that I was too. Their name was Norrie but he had only taken photos on his visit and didnt have an address to track down relatives, my considerable postie knowledge couldnt shed any light on it either. And Tina, well she was from Lune, 10 minutes away from where I had worked for the NAAFI at Herford. Thus, over too much beer, the Dunfermline/Herford Appreciation Society was formed, membership 3. A very nice, refreshing evening but of course they were jumping on a plane the next morning.