Anyone for bat?

Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , North Sumatra,
Monday, January 30, 2012

Our plan was to set off early Sunday morning, but as the saying goes "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray".  Today it was the best laid plans of rats and men, but you get the picture.

Twenty little eyes peering up at me from the water tank in my backyard, ten little rats, waterlogged and helpless, one big dilemma.  Kill the rats and have the image of those tiny helpless eyes burned in my memory forever (or for a few weeks at least) or release them and never live down that fact that I was too soft to kill of a handful of vermin, all ready and waiting to be drowned.  

And so it was that for the next hour or so, armed with a pair of Marigolds, a cardboard box, a mop and several Tupperware dishes, Roger and I set out to do the unthinkable and free the rats. The problem is that when you stick a mop handle in front of the nose a drowning rat he's up it like...well like a rat up a mop handle, and when you put rat one in a box and then open the lid to put in rat two, rat one popcorns out and makes his escape.  And so that's how it went for some time, until finally rats one to four were secured in the cardboard box, rats five to seven were in the sandwich box, rats eight to ten were in the juice jug and the garden looked like the first ever hurricane had hit Medan. Balancing the three containers on the back of 'Old Whingie' (our trusty new 1991 110cc Suzuki Showgun) we set off down the road to deposit our rodents far enough away that they wouldn't be tempted to visit.

A few hours behind schedule, but still determined to go ahead with our plan we set out for Berastagi, which, according to Wikipedia means "rice store" and also according to Wiki is" a town and subdistrict of Karo Regency situated on crossroads on the main route linking the Karo highlands of Northern Sumatra to the coastal city of Medan.  The main economic activities in Berastagi, centre on the colourful fruit and vegetable market and on tourism. Berastagi is famous for its passion fruit. The main attractions of the town are the two active volcanoes; Gunung Sibayak, with its hot springs, and Gunung Sinabung."...and there you go!

Now we'd had several warnings from other expats and Indonesians about the road to Berastagi, in fact the lady in the bike repair shop replacing our oil was in disbelief that we'd even attempt to take our 21 year old Whingie up there.  But, being us and not wanting to miss out on the spectacular views and fresh air for fear of being swatted like flies by buses, or run off the road and down the mountains, we went ahead and did it anyway. (We do take advice sometimes, honestly! Just not recently.) Besides we really wanted to see a real active volcano AND we'd heard there was a hotel selling good, cheap western food there too!  

I started to lose my appetite about 20 minutes into the journey, when we'd left the stationary traffic of Medan and were coasting along the jungle lined, winding roads toward Berastagi, the warnings had been valid and the road terrifying.  Unfortunately, since Roger was driving, all I could do was close my eyes, cry a little bit and lose a few years of life expectancy to stress. The buses on that road really don't care what is coming the other way, and as we got closer to Berastagi the roads got steeper, windier and much more bumpy, I am still in disbelief myself that Old Whingie made it to the top, but she did!  And really, once I'd gotten over the fear (or just gotten numb to it) I began to see that the roads and the views were beautiful.  As you leave Medan colours come back, it starts to get greener, tropical flowers line the roads and the buildings are painted like rainbows (all be it peeling, decaying rainbows).  The air changes dramatically too, from hot smoke and dust to cool and clean.  

We arrived at our destination about two hours later, after a quick break to rest Old Whingie (and my bum!) and sample a corn on the cob from one of the vendors at the side of the road.  The fruits and vegetables here grow big, juicy and sweet, something to do with growing them in volcanic soil, and our corn was no exception. 

Berastagi itself (although we didn't see much of it) is not a particularly beautiful town, I've heard it's much like most other Sumatran towns, but since we don't have much to compare it to it was interesting enough for us.  I believe that the Dutch colonialists would travel to Berastagi to escape polluted and crowded Medan.  It is still possible to see big old colonial houses on the way to the town, and no doubt if we'd stayed longer to explore, in the town too.  Berastagi seems to be quite a popular tourist destination for Indonesian these days too, lots of people flying kites and taking rides on the emaciated ponies and horse drawn carts and of course exploring the fruit and vegetable markets in the town too.  

Lunch at the Wisma Sibayak Hotel, as recommended by friends, was well worth sampling and we tucked into cheesy chips, tomato soup, cheese sandwiches, avocado salad and a banana and chocolate pancake... What? It's a long journey!  The prices were not too bad either. Then back on the road home to Medan before nightfall.  There was no way I was taking that trip back in the dark!  

We stopped off en route to sample some local strawberries and pick up a jar of strawberry jam and then to gawk at the fruit bats hanging in cages along the side of the road.  Seriously big, live bats, all hanging there waiting to be bought and barbecued!  The service of barbecuing the bat was not available and Roger and I didn't fancy attempting it ourselves, so we settled for taking a few photos and marveling at how much their faces looked like dogs.  Another stand had tiny baby monkeys for sale at $20 dollar each, which I luckily managed to talk Roger out of.  

We finally made it home just as the sun was setting, filthy dirty and exhausted, but feeling good!  Time for a swim in the pool to wash off all that dust...and then maybe dinner?  


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Mr. on

Wow!! Best one yet Miss!

AbdAlla on

it is awesome good luck for sating there

Jordon Maynard-Daley on

Nooooo!!! Not the juice jug

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