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Archives for: May 1986

The Medan Bus

May 8th, 1986  · stk

My first post in the "hisstory" category, this article discusses the road hazards one might come across in the Aceh Province of northern Sumatra, in Indonesia. I supervised two remote jungle seismic crews (over 1000 men on each crew) for two years, from 1985-1987, while working for Mobil Oil Indonesia. I kept a journal of my experience and am finally getting around to getting some of it posted.

Driving Hazards of Northern Sumatra
Both Real & Imagined

About This Article

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For two years, from 1985 to 1987, Scott worked for the Field Operations Group for Mobil Oil, based out of Jakarta, Indonesia. He was the company geophysicist, working in the remote jungle region of the Aceh Province, at the northern tip of Sumatra, supervising two helicopter-supported, remote-jungle seismic crews. Each crew was made up of over 1,000 men. During this time, a National Geographic photographer visited and some of those photos are included in the August, 1989 National Geographic article "The Quest for Oil".

This journal entry was made during Scott's first 2-month tour (Scott worked a 2-month "on", 1-month "off" schedule and when he was "on" he worked from 6 AM till 6 PM, 7 days a week.

The journal topic for tonight is "Driving Hazards".

There are many driving hazards in northern Sumatra (Note: I am only talking about the driving hazards in the countryside. So far, I have little experience driving on the roadways of Indonesian cities, but from the little bit I have experienced - it's a constant hazard! Avoid city driving if you can!).

We have paid drivers that do all our driving for us. This is mostly keep us foreigners out of trouble. If an accident occurs, no matter who is at fault, all fingers (by mutual agreement) point to the "orang puti" (white man). He is the one with the most money! The police will back-up this policy. (Graft is alive and well).

Sometimes it's nice to have drivers, but it is hard to be a passenger in a car when you're sitting in the drivers seat! (Indonesians drive on the left-hand side of the road and because of this, most steering wheels are on the right side of the vehicle. "On the passenger's side," is where I describe the location of the steering wheel, to all those that will listen.) As a passenger, I am always - out of habit - trying to sit on the passenger's side of the vehicle, which is the driver's seat in Indonesia. All of our drivers think this is really funny.

Aceh Road Hazards

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