Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Danau Toba Pt. 4: You call it a "train", but I call it a "motorcycle"

I woke up in Parapat, and I knew I would have to get to Ajibata to meet up with Mr. -.  Ajibata was the next town over, and I hadn't a clue about how to get there.  Luckily, or so I thought, I would be able to rely on my Bahasa skills and simply ask one of the locals!  I hadn't counted on the regional variations in Bahasa which I came up against full force that day.  So, first I'll need to give YOU! my reader a little Bahasa Indonesia lesson.  In Bahasa, a motorcycle is shortened to "motor", a car is a "mobil", a mini-bus is called an "angkot" which is an abbreviation of "angkutan kota" literally "city transport" and a train is called a "kereta api" literally a " fire wagon/cart", which is usually just referred to as a "kereta".  So we have:
car-mobil, 
motorcycle-motor   
train- kereta
mini-bus- angkot

Now, as I was asking around for directions to Ajibata, I was told to take a "kereta".  I was in a small village, way off the main transport route, and there was definitely no train station in town, now were there any train tracks.  I was pretty confused.  So, I asked them where the "kereta" was?  They pointed vaguely at a cluster of motorcycle taxis with their drivers hanging out waiting for fares.  At that point, I assumed I had asked the town loony for directions, so I looked around to see if others would confirm this.  The other people sitting around nodded in confirmation.  I asked if it was possible to take an "angkot" and they pointed up the road?  I was told no, but I could take a car.  This was getting stranger and stranger.  In these small villages, there are no taxis and while some people do car hires, they usually only go long distances.  I can't quite convey the degree of confusion I felt, but it was something like being in the twilight zone.  Everyone else saw the invisible train and non-existant car hires, but I didn't.  
In stepped Jhan, a local who was handing out flyers for the hotel where he worked, "fishing for tourists" in his words.  He heard my JKT accent I guess, since I learned street bahasa, I tend to use a lot of slang that is specific to JKT.  He spoke English and cleared up the confusion.  In Sumatera... (ready for it?)
motor-car
kereta-motorcycle
mobil- mini bus
??? (compare with the list above)

So, what the locals were really saying was that I could take a motorcycle (hence the crew of ojek drivers and their bikes) or a local mini-bus, which ran along the main street where they were pointing.  Thanks for clearing that up Jhan!  I ended up staying at his hotel as it happened.

1 comment:

  1. in Malaysia we called a car a "Kereta" !!

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