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Bukit Lawang

Getting there & away

What should be a quick trip into the country is a four-hour rover mission on the surface of the moon. The road has crater-sized potholes, and buses have to yield to heavy vehicles overloaded with palm oil bundles from the local plantations.

There are direct buses to Medan’s Pinang Baris bus terminal every half-hour between 5.30am and 5pm (8000Rp). Public minivans (10, 000Rp) also leave for Medan throughout the day.

If you catch the first bus out of Bukit Lawang at 5.30am, you might be able to return to Medan in time to catch the boat to Penang, but the flexibility of time in Indo­nesia is unreliable in a crunch.