While traveling in North Sumatra earlier this year I encountered a spritely Korean named Kim who is the director of a travel agency called Goose Good Travel and has traveled to over 40 different countries. And while Kim has seen many amazing things in his travels, his passion is the equator and trying to stand on it in as many countries as possible. I forget how many countries he’s “seen” it in, but when I met him I know he was planning to add Indonesia to his list.
As of yesterday, I can officially say that I have stood on the equator in exactly ONE country! Exciting!
The Tugu marker isn’t particularly well-kept, nor is it all that grand. In fact, it would be quite easy to pass it by without realizing that it was anything more than a tall column randomly placed alongside the road—tucked in between shanty-like homes and a dilapidated mosque.
The truth is, our expedition to the imaginary line splitting the northern and southern hemispheres wasn’t all that adventurous (there’s not much to see in our plantation-ridden region of Riau), and it wasn’t long (a mere 1 1/2 hours drive from our townsite) but it was still strangely thrilling to find ourselves standing at zero degrees latitude.
So was it worth the trip? Definitely. The head of security at our townsite, Pak Roy, arranged the trip and in addition to some of his fellow Filipinos, he invited along myself and another expat teacher, Amy (she’s from Shanghi). We piled into two vehicles and enjoyed a bumpy ride out of Kerinci. Along the way we stopped for lunch and ate a West Sumatran specialty, a bone marrow soup called Sum Sum. In addition to the bowls of soup, they also served bowls with huge pieces of cow femur bones accompanied by straws, which you were supposed to use to suck out additional marrow. I found the soup to be quite tasty, but only tried a little bit of the marrow because it apparently has basically your weekly intake of calories in it (though it was yummy too)!
Adding to the fun of our lunch, in an attempt to freak out Amy and myself, everyone said we were eating horse meat. I didn’t take the bait, but poor Amy fell for the joke hook, line and sinker and was entirely disgusted until the rest of us broke out laughing at her and she realized it was all a hoax.
Once we were at the equator a flurry of photos ensued and with that, the adventure was finished. We were only at the site for about 20 minutes, but it was still a lot of fun and I can now add two more entries to my ever-growing list of “things I never thought I would do*” so I’d say it was a Sunday well spent.