My transportation from Padang to Bukittinggi was a shared van for 60K (3,75€). Once everyone was inside we had four women, two children one man and the driver plus a lot of luggage; me being the only foreigner. I was sitting next to the mom with her 3 and 2 year-old girls. She gave me loads of food to try and was very interested in culture and politics, so we talked most of the drive. Was really nice and interesting! Around 1 pm I arrived in Bukittinggi at the De Kock Café where I had reserved a bed in the dorm. They don´t have bunk beds there and it´s quite spacious and nice. The adjoined bathroom has a western toilet and toilet paper, but no sink. So you have to use the shower for everything. There were two Dutch girls in the dorm otherwise it was empty. By the way, it is cheaper when you book directly and not over booking.com or anything like that. I went down to the café to drink a fruit juice and find out what I could do with the rest of the day. Shortly after I sat down a local came to my table and sat opposite me. It was Roni. He is doing tours in and around Bukittinggi. We got along very well immediately and talked for a while. He showed me his homepage (www.ronistours.com) and also helped me to create a rough plan for my time in Sumatra, including tips for accommodation. In exchange he asked me to help him learning German. We talked for almost two hours, then he took off and I went up to the dorm. When I had relaxed a little and refreshed myself I went down again and out. I went to the famous clock tower Jam Gadang and since it was Wednesday and thus market day also to the market. I bought some fruit and cassava chips and also had dinner.
When I returned to De Kock Café Roni was back and I joined him, Adek and Buddi on the table. When Roni and Buddi left I got my laptop and finished the Padang blog before setting off with Adek to get some coconut. It was a huge one. I had gotten him one too and we both had a water belly after.
We went back to the café where we hung out with Buddi, Theresa (a Czech girl) and Wibi, singing and listening to the guitar. I went to bed shortly before 11 pm and slept very well after having some troubles to fall asleep due to the noise. For the next day I had booked a tour to Harau valley with Roni. While I was enjoying my included and yummy breakfast Roni arrived and told me I would be going with his friend/employee An today. Roni himself didn´t have time. So I took off with An on his motorbike. First stop was the Minangkabu Mayor Office where you have a beautiful view over the valley, Mt Merapi and Mt Singgalang.
Then we stopped at a cassava chips factory where I could try several flavours and also got some. Couldn´t see how they make them though unfortunately.
We continued on the road and also passed a blacksmith. They still do everything by hand there. It´s a really hard job, I probably wouldn´t survive more than half an hour or so. My absolute respect!
On the way to the valley we had some local lunch.
In the valley An took me to the Abdi Homestay. It´s a beautiful place!
There he told me that he can´t take me to the waterfall, it has to be a local guide doing it. So I was handed over to Renal, a 22 year old guy on a fancy motorbike and we took off to the waterfalls. Shortly after we took off it started to rain. First only a drizzle so we didn´t care but then it poured down and we had to stop and seek some shelter. When it finally stopped for a bit we went on. One of the waterfalls is in the jungle and we had to walk about half an hour to get there. With the rain it had cooled down quite a lot plus due to some miscommunication with An I had left my bikinis together with all my other stuff with him. So I didn´t go for a swim and just enjoyed the view of the nice falls. We had a look at four other waterfalls, went to a view point in the valley and then drove back to the homestay. We had to seek shelter several times due to the rain.
An was very afraid to get wet, so he decided that we just go straight back to Bukittinggi. I put my rain jacket on and put my camera in the backpack with rain cover, just in case, but it didn´t rain again. I asked An to stop at a coconut place at least. After that he dropped me at the Café and I paid him the amount I agreed on with Roni. I went to the dorm and lay on my bed since I had to relax my bum a bit from sitting on the motorbike all day. When I had rested enough I went down again. Later Adek came too and we went for a bit of a walk before returning to the café. The next day I hadn´t planned any tour. While I had breakfast the next morning Buddi asked me about my plans and when he learned that I didn´t have any he invited me to come with him, Theresa, Roni and Adek. We took off on three motorbikes, got some local food as take away,
drove for a while and stopped in Pandai Sikek at a hand weaving place. I was quite surprised that only young men were working there. I would have expected woman. We learned that it used to be just women, but since the demand increased drastically now also boys have to do it. In the end they took a group picture with Theresa and me and were super happy about that.
We stopped at a strawberry farm where we had a short break, a drink and collected some fruit growing on the side of the road.
From there we drove into the hills, where Roni is planning to buy some land. He wanted to have our opinion on that. We ate lunch there and had a look around before driving back.
Adek and I stopped for another coconut. When we had finished it and drove back to the café it started pouring down again so we arrived pretty wet. I went up to the dorm and changed into dry clothes and gave my sweater to Adek since he wouldn´t fit in any of my T-Shits but desperately needed something dry to wear. We hung out with Roni, Buddi and Theresa for a while in the café. Every Friday and Saturday night they have a special show in Bukittinggi (Saayun Salankah) where they show several traditional Minangkabau arts like dances, martial arts and a fire show. It is close to the clock tower. Adek came with me. There was a group of some older Dutch people otherwise just locals and me. So I being the only younger white person resulted in quite some stage time for me since every time the audience got involved, it was either me alone or I was included. I was chosen to open the ceremony, play some drums and dance. It was fun and the show was nice. The 1.5 hours didn´t get boring. If you want to see some cultural stuff, I can definitely recommend it.
On the way back to the hostel we took some pics of the nicely lit clock tower.
I went straight to bed since I was quite tired. The next day I went to the Sianok Canyon for some jungle trekking with Roni. He had his friend Daus with him. When we left the Café at 9 and first stopped at Mr Clean since I had to get some laundry done urgently. They charge 10K per kg and even deliver it to your accommodation on the same day. Roni bought some supplies and then we took the bus to Panorama Baru where we started our hike into the jungle. We walked through the jungle, crossed a river, had to cut our way through, partly walked in a river since there was no other way, climbed, passed two villages (Pahambek and Taruco), had lunch in the grass next to some pools and water buffalos, into the jungle again, along some rice fields and ended in Balingka village. It was strenuous, but a lot of fun and I enjoyed it a lot. We were all pretty dirty and sweaty but happy. At the bus stop we had to wait for quite a while and I was the attraction again. A few young guys wanted to take pictures with me and some children of the village all stared at me, first from a safe distance and then they were coming closer. Themselves they were pretty camera shy though.
Then we drove back to Bukittinggi with two different buses, we had to change once. Back at the hostel I finally got out of my soaking wet shoes and socks and took a shower to get rid of all the dirt on me. Then I went down again to have some Gado Gado for dinner and a Bintang. After a while Roni came back and we drank a beer together and had a talk. The next morning I checked out and took off with Adek to Lake Maninjau on his motorbike. Around Lawang there was sugar cane lying around on the street for drying everywhere and we also saw how they treat the sugar cane with help of a water buffalos.
At Lawang Top we had a tea and took some nice pictures. There was an Indonesian family on holidays who were very fascinated by me and wanted to take pictures with me and asked me thousands of questions. Especially the grandma couldn’t get enough and didn´t stop talking to me in Bahasa.
Then we took the road with the 44 numbered hairpin bends down to the lake and went to the Bagoes Café & Homestay.
We had a look around, took some pictures and got something to drink. Then An arrived. He was doing a tour with a German couple. I talked to them for a while and we saw a giant monitor lizard swimming in the lake.
Shortly after they took off again to continue with their tour it started to rain. We had some lunch and due to the bed weather just stayed in the homestay for the rest of the day chilling and relaxing. It didn´t stop raining all day and night. It was still raining when we had breakfast the next morning with only very short breaks.
Really a pity, I would have loved to explore the area a bit more and also see the king´s palace. But the homestay is nice and the food is good and some relaxing also didn´t harm. We waited until almost 1 pm for the rain to decrease and then we finally made our way back to Bukittinggi and stopped for a coconut on the way back.
It was only drizzling or raining slightly every now and then on the way back but was enough for Adek to get pretty wet again on the motorbike; for me it wasn´t that bad since I sat in the back and had him as a shield. Since I already stayed in Bukittinggi 3 days longer than I had intended and I had decided to go to an island close to Padang with Adek for a few days, I had to change my plans a bit. I decided to skip Banda Aceh and so had to rebook two flights that I had already booked one or two weeks before. Via email, life chat or telephone I couldn´t change anything since they didn´t accept credit cards from foreign countries only Indonesian debit cards. So I had to go to the office of Garuda Indonesia directly and could pay the fee in cash there. We stayed one night at the Orchid Hotel since the De Kock Café didn´t have space for us. Have to say that I didn´t like the Orchid Hotel too much. It was more expensive than the De Kock Café, but the bathroom was worse and I didn´t like the atmosphere in this place at all. The room was ok, but the breakfast was also a lot better at the Café. Anyway was just for one night and I spend most of the evening in the Café anyway. The next morning I took a car to Padang with my luggage. Adek went on his motorbike and meet me there. But since I was leaving Bukittinggi for good this time, this will be another blog post. I really loved this place. Nice city, beautiful landscape around, many interesting things to do and see in the city and the surrounding and most important of all, very nice and friendly people I loved to hang out with. Terima kasih – especially to Adek, Roni and Buddi – for a great time in Bukittinggi!!!