Treks and more Treks in Bukittinggi

Trip Start Jan 07, 2009
Trip End Aug 04, 2009

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Flag of Indonesia  , Sumatra,
Friday, May 22, 2009

Oh Bukkitinggi, how I will miss this place when I leave! As if I wasn't
in love with Indonesia so much already, then I come here and find this
place that really got under my skin (in the good sense that that
expression can be used, not the bad one). So, 10 whole days is a lot to
recall and I have a million stories that I don't want to forget, so I
don't expect anyone to actually read this whole blog entry, it is
mostly for myself. (but if you get through it, let me know, I'll be

So I flew in to Padang, my first stop in Sumatra, which the Lonely
Planet describes as "an adventure, the kind of demanding ride that
requires a dusty backpack and a tough travelling skin"...but to tell
you the truth, my experience so far is far from this description. It's
just simply a wonderful place with wonderful people. Not so scary at
all! So somehow it was more expensive to get transport to the city
centre of Padang than to Bukkintinggi, two hours away, so I decided to
come straight here, which was a good decision. I checked in to a crappy
hotel for the night because I arrived late, but it took me little time
to realise that the backpacker place to stay is the Orchid Hotel, so I
moved there the next morning.

Merapi Climb

I checked in, Roni, the main tour manager dude, brought me a welcome
coffee on the roof and told me a bit about all the tours that they
offer. He's really such a nice guy who has a heart of gold, I swear! He
also told me that another Canadian girl who is traveling alone wanted
to go to climb the volcano (which is also called Merapi, like the one I
climbed in Java, which is a bit confusing). I of course have
sympathetic feelings for solo Canadian girls who are waiting for others
to sign up for a trek so that they can go I told him I would like
to go as well, even though I was sort of asking myself why I was going
to put myself through so much pain again! So I spent the day getting
acquainted with the town and meeting the many tour guides who are all
over town, but are never pushy at all, and seem to genuinely be happy
that you are here at all.

The climb began around 11pm, but I was so psychologically prepared for
this one. I was ready for a tough night...which made it a lot easier. I
had my stock of chocolate for extra courage along the way. :) We had a
cool group for the climb as well, with Irene the physical geography
major from SFU (note pour papa haha), a german couple, and our guides
who set a much more reasonable pace than the ones I had in Java who
were a bit too "go go go" for me. We stopped and made a campfire and
took a nice long coffee break about an hour before the top. When we
finally made it to the top, it was so crazily windy I thought I might
seriously fall into the crater...but I didn't. The view wasn't as
amazing as my last volcano, but of course it was still very cool. The
way down was really tough though...we all did a victory dance when we
arrived at the bottom, that's for sure.

Minankabau Tour Day!

Then I spent most of the day sleeping, and decided to do a
not-so-strenuous motorbike daytrip through the Minankabau area. In the
evening I was hanging out at one of the backpacker cafes and I met
Jantine, a dutch girl who is also traveling alone, and she decided to
join Irene and I on this trip the next day. So it was three girls who
are traveling alone on motorbikes for a very chilled out day through
the countryside. This is the first time I met An who was our guide, a
very funny guy indeed. He just seems like he cares about nothing, and
has to be the most nonchallant person I have ever met. He turned out to
be a good person to have around when some of the other members of the
Orchid crew turned out to be more of the typical Indonesian type who
wear their heart on their But ANYWAY, the tour was not
that fascinating, but we had such a good group of people and good
conversation all day that it was great. I think my favorite part was
actually our lunch stop for Padang food, which is wonderful. It's very
fun, they put a ton of little dishes in front of you and then you pick
which you want, and pay for those you chose at the end. It was so much
fun. :) and very yummy too of course.

So then when we arrived back at the Orchid, Roni asked if we wanted to
go to the pub with them, where there is this sort of karaoke-like
settup. So we said we would go, and so us three girls piled into the
car with the whole Orchid crew. I was quite happy to for once be with
other girls as well as the crew of Indonesian guys...*phew*. But
anyway, they are all wonderful people. There isn't really such a thing
as a "pub" here, because people don't really it turns out
that this was at a big fancy hotel, and that beer is so expensive there
that we had to buy beer from a store (which isn't easy to find here
either, beer in a store) and drink it in the car (because it's
Indonesia and there are no rules for such things). So anyway, we
finally made it, and it was just a fun chilled out night. I think
everyone was quite happy with it. :)

Lake Maninjau Trek

The next day, Jantine (which is pronounced Yon-tina) and I left on a
two-day/one-night trek to the nearby Lake Maninjau. I was a bit worried
because we didn't book through the hotel, but through this slightly
annoying guy who was really pushy....but thankfully he wasn't our
guide, and we had two very cool guys who really loved to laugh. I
haven't laughed so much in a long time than on this two-day trek. Funny
funny times. The trek wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, but
it was fun. The first two hours were a bit more intense though, and I
did get a leech on my back ewwwwwwwwwww GROSS!!! It was all bloody and
icky. But it's part of the memorable experience. The trek went through
many villages where the kids stared at us a lot. I mean literally "hello mister", no wanting to be in photos...just staring
blankly...or sometimes staring from behind a tree. It was funny, they
were quite cute. We also made a stop where they were making brown sugar
using a buffalo to turn the mechanism was a cool spot.

At night we stayed in the jungle at a very cute homestay called Anas
Homestay. The shower is the stream, and it's down quite a steep path,
and the lady who lead us there was saying "hati-hati" (be careful)
every few seconds on the way down, even though to her it is nothing.
Then I am sure she got a good laugh at Jantine and I who both freaked
out when we got leaches on our feet...but this time it was just a tiny
one so it wasn't so bad. lol. Anyway, a good evening of laughing with
our guides, and it was great.

We made it to the lake by mid-day, and it was quite a bit nicer than I
had expected, so I decided to stay one night there. The next day
Jantine and I went canoing in a little dug-out canoe, which is much
less stable than those wilderness canoes we have in had
mismatched paddles so it was litterally impossible to keep it straight.
It was funny. In the afternoon, I decided to take a canoe to the middle
of the lake by myself to just sit in the sun. So I got the canoe out
there with no problem, and I lie down in the bottom of the canoe for a
while, enjoying the sort-of peace (not really, some people were
blasting music from shore and that's all I could hear)...but by
mid-afternoon, the wind picks up, and the canoe starts I
decide it is time to go back...and when I try to sit back up on the
seat, and canoe almost tips over, but I manage to swerve it back
upright...but of course it was half-filled with water!!! and I had no
life jacket, and no scoop to get the water out. The water made the
canoe very tipsy, and I wasn't able to sit back on the seat in the
back, making me stuck on the bottom in the middle of a canoe, which
makes it impossible to direct it at all, so I just spent half an hour
going in circles and getting quite frustrated, and afraid because I
almost tipped a bunch of times. I was mostly afraid of sinking their
boat and having to pay for it, because I am pretty sure I could swim to
shore from where I was. In the end, I yelled out for someone to come
and help me, and they did, but probably thought I was such a fool!!!
But it was very funny.

Then I had a pretty funny bus ride back to Bukkintinggi, and it was so
nice to be back in town. Within twenty minutes of arriving, I had been
asked "how was Maninjau?" by at least a dozen people, and it kind of
felt like coming home. I got my old cheap room back on the roof. All
awesome. Then I was surprised to find that Irene was also still there
so I had someone to hang out with, yay! Canadians are always cool
people! :) So we made plans to walk to a nearby village the next day,
and then Irene was leaving on the night bus that I am also taking later
today. Me and Irene are their favorites I think, so everyone was there
to say goodbye to her. lol.

That night was an interesting night of just hanging around the Orchid,
and then the next day I was leaving on a two-night trek to Harau Valley
(I didn't have to wait around for anyone else to sign up because I now
apparently got special someone else did join,
which I was thankful for).

Harau Valley Trek
Harau Valley is a stunning place...but I
guess it's time for me to come home, not because I am not having fun
(because clearly, I really am), but because I am no longer as impressed
by the scenery. Anyway, our guide on this trek was a little iffy. He
knew his stuff, for sure, but he was so shy and quiet, and it was a bit
of a weird atmosphere. We stayed at a sort of cabin out in the jungle,
but it was sort of a mess and had a lot of garbage...but still, it was
a nice trek nonetheless. We stopped at the most crazy amazing jungle
swimming spots! (okay, so maybe some things do still impress me!). I
don't have them in photos through, because we had to swim through a
stream for a while to get to the really cool the memory of it
will just have to remain in my brain. :) We also stopped at the
craziest bat cave ever. I've seen lots of caves, but I don't think any
had THIS MANY bats. crazy.

Time to Leave Bukkintinggi
I came back to Bukkintinggi, and was planning on leaving the next day,
but I got so many "no, don't leave, Bukkitinggi will be crying"s that I
decided to let myself be convinced to stay one more night. For some
reason, a million tourists has appeared while I was gone (okay, so
maybe just a dozen) and it was quite a cool night. Roni invited us all
to go to a wedding party of one of the Orchid staff (who supposedly I
know, but I feel quite bad but I didn't remember him). I always feel
weird in these sorts of situations, but Roni assured us that it was
fine, so we all went along. It was interesting to see anyway! lol The
night then continued to one of the backpacker cafes, and then to
hanging out on my favorite rooftop until very late at night, watching
the lightning in the distance.

So the next day, I did an improvised cooking class with An, the
nonchalant tourguide dude, and Rina another traveler that I had met the
day before, and for some reason Mr. Internet Man (as I call him) was
there too. We just did this cooking "course" at An's house, in the
Indonesian kitchen complete with cochroaches that he stomped on with
his bare feet. lol. I call it a "course" because it was mostly like
just hanging out and cooking in a group, and I don't think I could
actually replicate anything we made, but it was a cool chill day, with
very easygoing people. After our crazy lunchtime discussion, we had a
random dance party to Shakira in the living room. It could not have
been more random...........but that's why I love Bukkintinggi! :)

Anyway, now I am actually getting on the bus in a few hours and leaving
this place...but I love it so much here that I was asking if they
needed any english teachers, but it sounds like it's all volunteer
based, so I probably won't go upsetting my future plans for this crazy
place...............but it's seriously awesome here. You better believe
me. :P
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