Last time we posted we had just arrived on the island of Sumatra in the town of Bukkitinggi. Sumatra is generally a noisy and vibrant island and Bukkitinggi is no exception. The call to prayer from the numerous mosques echoes through the town several times a day and acts as a somewhat unwelcome alarm clock in the early hours, cars and mopeds honk horns constantly, the karaoke bars compete to see who has the loudest sound system until the wee hours and people constantly shout “hello mister” at you regardless of gender! But this love of music and friendliness, once you get used to it really very appealing.
While in town we stayed at Rajawali Guest house where the German born owner, Ulrich was a fountain of information about the town and the country as a whole. He filled us in on what we should do in the surrounding area, but something was far more pressing – Breakfast. Along with a cup of super strong, coffee (Kopi to the locals) we tried the typical indonesian breakfast of lontong. A mixture of sticky rice, noodles, jackfruit, beans and a hard boiled egg, all covered with a mouth watering spicy coconut curry – topped with some crisp prawn crackers. A lifetime away from a bacon butty – but delicious none the less.
We explored the local town and its wonderful markets, taking in all the new and interesting sites and sounds. You could buy anything from a double bladed pen knife (which is now an essential in the backpack), to dried fish… and man do they love there dried fish. We ate (yes more food) odd pancake like creations filled with sweet coconut, and fruits which looked like they where covered in snake skin – which tasted equally as unappealing as they looked. The streets where filled with the highly decorated horse and carts, taking locals to and from the stalls to buy their supplies for the week, and without any other westerners in sight we felt we where getting a true taste of authentic indonesian life.
The next stop was to see a flower. The rare rafflesia found in the rainforest outside the town. We jumped on a local bus. It was a squashed ride, with fourteen people for the nine seats, but just when we thought it was full a lady got on with a live duck! After some failed attempts at pecking the exotic white skinned foreigners the duck was placed in a sealed plastic bag for the rest of the journey – it survived the trip thankfully though the lady implied not for long as she moved her finger across her throat and pointing at our feathered friend! A few minutes later we reached the beautiful mountain village surrounded by rice paddies and met our guide who took us into the jungle. It was amazing to see coffee, cocoa, cinnamon trees and cardamon growing wild on the way. We had our photos taken with the alien looking flower before coming back to the village for organic cat poo coffee…seriously. Its proper name is Kopi Luwak and we not only drank it but also had it rubbed into our skin! check it out, click here.
The next day, joined by our favourite American Britt, we headed out on the local bus to nearby Lake Maninjau. Taking in the famous 44 harepin turns on the last stretch of road to the lake! created by a huge volcanic eruption tens of thousands of years ago, the lake sits in the crater surrounded on all sides by spectacular mountains. We stayed at the Mauro Beach cabins, right on the lake. We climbed through the surrounding jungle to the hidden waterfall, swam in the lake, used their traditional canoes and really just relaxed in the incredibly cool chilled out atmosphere of the place. If you’re in Sumatra its a must!
After a few days at this lakeside paradise we set off for North Sumatra… but more on that on the next post.
R & E