Overlanding: Padang to Lampung Province

Padang to Bengkulu

After some delicious morning coffee on the beach at Echo Beach Camp we continued our road trip along Lintas Barat back towards Jakarta. The next big town on this route is Bengkulu. It took us two days to drive the around 500 kilometers.

Padang to Mukomuko

When researching about this leg of our trip I didn’t really find a lot of sights or camping spots to stop at along the route. So, we decided to just take it easy and see where the road takes us.

To break the long drive down and to enjoy this part of Sumatra some more we wanted to stop in a nice place and finally take our time to cook lunch. We went grocery shopping at one of the countless local markets and when we saw a fisherman selling huge, fresh shrimps we could not resist - Aglio Olio Pasta with shrimps it is!

Who are these strangers?

Long stretches of this route run right next to the coast, so it’s easy to find a beautiful spot to stop at. We found a beach a few hundred meters off the main road, somewhere around this area. It’s near a little fishing village with lots of empty space under the shade of coconut trees. We set up our little kitchen and cooked some pasta. At the same time, we were observing some local man working together to pull a huge net patiently out of the ocean, one step at a time, meter by meter.

Shortly after, the situation changed and we became the ones who were being observed. Two old local men came by, started to inspect our camping gear and camera, and then sat down right next to us for a little chat. They rarely meet tourists and were curious to find out more about what these two strangers are doing on their beach. It was a special encounter for us too. We shared some Italian coffee and got to learn more about what life is like in this part of Sumatra.

This would have been a great place to camp. It was a beautiful, clean, and quiet beach and we felt safe after getting to know some of the locals. However, we still had a long way to go so we decided to continue the drive.

Mukomuko – to camp or not to camp

While zooming in and out of Google Maps in search for potential camping spots to spend the night at I came across Pantai Air Patah, a beach near Mukomuko. It’s a long, sandy beach with a small forest right behind it. In theory, a great camping spot. In reality however, we did not feel very comfortable there.

It was a Sunday evening and a lot of the beachgoers had left large piles of rubbish behind which the wind was now spreading all over the beach. The locals did not seem to mind, but for Danu and myself it was a sad view. This is an issue we are unfortunately often confronted with on our travels. 

Still, we found a spot, cleaned up the area around it and watched the beautiful sunset. 

But once it got dark and we were the only people left we both started to get an uneasy feeling. I can’t really explain what caused it but it led to us packing up and heading back into town. Safety is often a concern at unofficial campsites around Sumatra. There are a lot of scary stories going around even though most of them are surely exaggerated, it’s better to trust your gut feeling and change plans if you don’t feel good in a spot. Most likely, nothing bad will happen but it’s quite miserable to be worried and scared all night long every time you hear the tiniest noise around you.

We ended up staying at hotel Abyan Mukomuko. It’s a simple, new hotel and according to some reviews the best choice between the three hotel options in town. The cost was 250.000Rp. for the two of us.

Mukomuko to Bengkulu

The road to Bengkulu was mostly in great condition. It leads over many hills and through countless palm oil plantations. They are huge and cover the areas for as far as the eyes can see. For hours those plantations were all we saw.

When we finally arrived in Bengkulu we made sure to pass by the main sights such as Benten (Fort) Malborough, the Thomas Monument, and the view tower but to be honest we were pretty tired and did not stop anywhere. Fort Malborough might be interesting to explore a bit more but the other places did not seem very interesting to us. Instead of sight seeing we decided to hang out at Jalan Pariwisata, which translates to “tourist road”. Don’t let the name scare you off, it’s actually just a s road along the beach filled with seafood restaurants and small warungs selling drinks and snacks. It’s a great place to enjoy the sunset with some fresh coconut (kelapa muda) and grilled corn (jagung bakar). Also make sure to try the local specialty called Ikan Bakar Bumbu Santan which is fresh fish grilled with a coconut sauce.

Soure: Liputan6

Bengkulu to Lampung province

The next day continued pretty much the same with driving and more driving. The only exciting place we found was a small coffeeshop on a dramatic looking beach. It was a welcome change to the many palm oil plantations and a good spot for a little break.

In the afternoon we realized that we won’t make it all the way to Krui. It was once again a bit challenging to find a spot to set up camp, but somehow, we ended up sleeping in the backyard of a local family.

How that happened?

Well, we did not really like any of the “Pantai Pariwisata” which are beaches where lots of domestic tourists hang out, and didn’t feel safe on the empty beaches. We continued driving and found a small fishing village right on the boarder to Lampung province. There we spotted a beautiful and peaceful spot right on the beach next to a small local house. Danu had a chat with the owner who immediately gave us permission to spend the night there. It was perfect!

It surely increases safety to camp near local houses but always make sure to introduce yourself and ask for permission before setting up your things.  

The importance of asking for permission became even more clear to us when two policemen came by our camping spot in the middle of then night to check our documents. I was skeptical about their intentions at first but then it turned out that someone in the village had complained to the police about two strangers staying overnight. After telling them our story and showing them our converted car, the two police man were however quite intrigued by us and even offered us to set up camp outside the police station which we gratefully declined.

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