GunnarTravelsTheAmericas&Africa&Asia travel blog

Bukettinggi The Hills, formerly Novotel with a great view

Dark rain clouds over Singgalan Mountain

Jam Gadang on the central square, clock was a present of Dutch...

Jam Gadang at night

A man (and a woman), a motor bike

Rainy Sunday, waiting for tourists

Sunday afternoon entertainment on the square

Walking bridge to Banteng de Kock

Fort built in 1825 by the Dutch during the Padri Wars

Fort de Kock in 1825

Only the odd canon remains

B's adat (local traditions) museum, example of Minangkabau architecture

Maybe it is a sad collection of stuffed animals, but I could...

Just outside B., the village of Parabek attracts pupils from all over...

Like this Madrassa for girls

A peek inside the nearby mosque

Line up of ingenious motor bike stalls is waiting for the Madrassa...

The bakso man; Javanese meatballs

Indonesian food man with a large variety

Yellow package, let fruit, green package, papaya fruit

The fried chicken man

Nice and crispy

The noodle stick man

Sticks with sausage or chicken or beef+noodles ready to be fried

Next is sate chicken or beef

and to top it of, sweet rolls

Bangkaw; a beautifully maintained traditional Minangkabau house in Parabek. Arnam estimates EUR...

Next door, 200 years old, but no money for maintenance

Owners, she is modiste

and he a film maker (but only in Jakarta), here he is...

with open kitchen

Different standards for cleaning

and maintenance

Balai Adat or meeting house in Koto Gadang

With a small relic of the Dutch past

Many inhabitants live in Jakarta or Padang but keep a house in...

Original Dutch facade

Peeking through school window

Tilling with the bajak, pretty soggy and muddy

Just as soggy and muddy as traditional tilling with a buffalo

Benni, plot of rice seedlings.

Ready to harvest (field with chili to the left)

Rice harvest, three times a year

Separating out rice grains in the tongkang

Drying of the rice

Weekly cattle market

Checking out what's on offer

Think over your negotiation strategy while you roll a traditional sigarette of...

And make an offer

Secret negotiations under a sarong with finger signals

He is asking for 10 million rupees

Things would be diffrent around here if he had anything to say...

Brown sugar factory

Boiling the cane

Into a thick paste

Divide into patties

Saka, ready for the market

Roasting peanuts (about an hour of scooping), earth is for better transitting...

Sudden commotion, a motor bike accident down the road

Carrying the wounded boy to the factory house

Victim seems to recover

Crater lake Maninjau

Crater lake Maninjau 2

Fish cages

Lunch at Arlen's Paradise on Lake Maninjau

That's what I call fresh

Cabins for rent


Bukittinggi is on the 2000 kilometres long Trans Sumatran Highway, well highway…, from Bandar Lampung to Medan and then on to Banda Aceh. At an altitude of 950 metres in the Bukit Barisan range and some 20-25°C, it is nice and cool, compared with the heat and humidity of West-Sumatra’s capital Padang, 90 kilometres west on the coast. Padang was hit by a 7.6 strong earthquake just 7 weeks ago, on September 30th, is still reeling from the extensive devastation and not being too much into disaster tourism anyway, I decide to give it a miss and head for Bukittinggi and the Minangkabau straight away.

“Would you know a hotel where they have WiFi”, I ask after breakfast on Sunday morning at the desk of the Asia Hotel where I had arrived just after midnight. Fitting out a new notebook computer with a firewall, virus killer and my usual software will take many hours of downloading. Kindly enough they call the Royal Denai just down the road: “They have WiFi”, and indeed they have, but the Royal Denai desk forgot to mention that it doesn’t work, so I end up in the four-star The Hills Hotel on ‘bukit tinggi’ (‘high hill’ in Indonesian). It´s a bit more luxourious than my usually accommodation, but I figure I deserve a little pampering.

Fort de Kock (the city’s Dutch colonial name), started out as a military outpost in 1825 during the Padri Wars (1821 - 1837), when Muslim fundamentalists aiming to abolish all Minangkabau adat (local customs) conflicting with the Koran, struggled with the Minangkabau chiefs who finally gained the upper hand with the support of Dutch troops. It was the HQ of the Japanese 25th Army, which occupied Sumatra (and managed the shock capture of the British stronghold, Singapore) during WO II, until Japan’s surrender in 1945 when Indonesia declared independence and Fort de Kock became the seat of the ‘Emergency Government of Indonesia’. It was subsequently captured by the Dutch in 1948 during the ‘Police Actions’, until it was rendered with independence in 1949. That was not the end of military conflict though; dissatisfied with the communist tendencies of the Sukarno government, the Minangkabau declared itself independent in 1958. The Indonesian army captured Bukittinggi a few months later, but guerrilla war went on for another few years and the region was treated as occupied territory for many years after that.

‘Axioo, your lifelong partner’, never heard of the brand, but it comes highly recommended by the J-Bros computer store just down the street from my hotel. They were closed on Sunday, so I dedicated that day to the Bukittinggi sights: Jam Gadang clock tower, the Minangkabau Adat (local traditions) Museum and Zoo and Banteng de Kock (even some time left for a haircut: € 0.70 and very well done). I set aside the Monday for reporting the theft of my old computer and buying a new one. I get my police report (as you know) but only after being tested on my faith and integrity and miserably failing on both. I’m told J-Bros is the only computer store in town, and so I am a bit worried about choice and prices. The choice is indeed limited, but this Axioo Pico model has everything I want: an Intel Atom chip for mini-notebooks, the full Office suite, even the brand new Windows 7, all that for only €320 and it even fits in my old Asus Eee pouch. J-Bros passes my tests with flying colours and when I have downloaded all the necessary software a few hours later I’m all set again.

Time then to do what I came for, explore the region: first Maninjau Crater Lake, where I have lunch enjoying the beautiful views, with a few interesting stops on the way, and next the Minangkabau.



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