Deb in West Sumatra 2012/2013 travel blog

rice fields

overlooking a valley at Bukitinggi

overlooking a cemetry

Nova & Pak Al

clock tower in Bukkitinggi

Minang traditional roof

beach at Pariaman

another beach just outside of Padang

lunch West Sumatran style

Well, I arrived in Padang yesterday 17/3/2012. I had a connecting flight in Jakarta, where Nova joined me for the Jakarta to Padang leg of the trip. Upon arrival in Padang we were met by Pak Al who was the driver that Nova had arranged for the next 3 days. We had lunch and then off to the hotel that she had booked me into for the next 3 nights. Nova went off to her mothers until 7pm when she collected me for dinner. We ate soto - a soup in a small warung (small street restaurant).

The flights were pretty uneventful. Lucky for me I had a window seat on both flights and was able to finally see Mt Merapi quite clearly. There were only a couple of days that were clear enough to see it while in Yogjakarta and you could clearly see the lava scares all the way down to Yogjakarta. The locals apparently become very fearful when they can not hear it or see evidence of its life. A quiet volcano explodes with force whereas one that spits ash periodically causes less damage. The flight from Jakarta felt like it had barely taken off when I noticed we had crossed the sea between Java & Sumatra. Then the view took in the mountain range and the coastline until we landed in Padang. You could also clearly see the inactive volcanoes from their scares. Upon reflection i realised the periodic shiny reflectors were probably silver domes atop of the mosques.

Then today Nova collcted me at 8.30am and off we went with her friend Emily and Pak Al. I was being shown around, first we went to Bukkitinggi (a W Sumatran tourist spot), it is about 2hrs from Padang in the mountains and about 2 hrs from Muaro, Sijunjung where I will be located. It was here that I had my first taste of some local West Sumatran food for lunch. And thankfully I remembered just in time that food is mostly eaten here with the fingers only and the right hand at that. It was a little different they tried to order something that I would most likely eat. So I had rice, very spiced vegies, chicken, some sort of fish, with egg & tofu mixed together.

They had other products which we no longer eat, in Australia, & maybe never eaten at all. Such as various insides of animals, crackers made of buffalo skin etc!!!

On the return trjp we visited Pariaman a coastal city about an hour from Padang. There is a safe beach for swimming, but unfortunately it is like many Asian countries and is littered with rubbish.

From there we went to a waterfull that Emily knew of and then onto Pariaman which is a about an hr up the coast from Padang. We visited Pariaman on the way home as Nova wanted me to see Pariaman where one of the other volunteers was who left after 2mths. He was only a few hundred metres from the beach in the Head of Education for the districts' house. While in Pariaman I paddled in the sea which would have been great if the beach was not littered with everyone's rubbish. Then on back into Padang. We arrived back at about 8pm.

So what did I see? Well as we ventured out into the countryside I noticed that the vegetation here is not as lush as Yogjakarta, but still green and dense. The people here are obviously not as well off as the homes were simpler and quite noticeable as to their status by the condition and size of their home. Some of the roofs still are built in the traditional Ming fashion - see photograph.

Rubbish, yes and quite a lot of it along the roadside, unfortunaley just like we used to, they leave their rubbish behind without throwing it in a bin. Or the bin is emptied over the side of mountain etc. On our return I noticed sitting along the roadside were monkeys sifting through the rubbish for tasty morsels.

The country side changed from rice fields to mountains and volcanoes. We saw at least 2 which they tell me are still active. Then on the return trip I saw one that you see the scares down the top portion of it from its overflow of lava. Some of the mountains you could not see their summit as it was shrouded in clouds.

Here as with most other asian countries you edge your way in although the traffic looks chaotic, it has a flow to it. It really is amazing how polite all the drivers appear, edging around each other and allowing traffic to enter onto the road in front of you. A hand will suddenly appear out of the passenger window to gently wave their indication of entering the intersection. Although there is a requirement by law to wear a bike helmet when riding a motor bike, few do. If they are wearing one it is more likely to be the rider and not the passenger/s. So in amongst this chaotic flow we came across the first accident I have seen in an Asian country. A vehicle appears to have stopped suddenly interupting the flow and the following vehicle ran up his backside and in turn he was ran into thus crunching the front & back of his vehicle. It appears someone was injured enouhg for an ambulance to be called. It wasn't long and we were on our way again. Although the vehicles here are also of similar vintage as those already described in previous posts I noticed once in the country that I did see some more craggy vehicles.

It seems that even here in West Sumatra everyone's features are quite different. I did notice that many of the women appear to be my size!!! So thankfully I won't stick out quite as much as there are others who are over weight like me.

Tomorrow we meet with the Head of education for the state of West Summatra and the Head of Education for Padang. Then we shop for what I will need in Muaro, Sijunjung, such as crockery, cutlery, linen and cooking utensils. It sounds like the department has provided the furniture including fridge and air conditioning. AND a new scooter!! So add to the list a helmet. I wonder if I can find a purple helmet:) Then Tuesday we travel to Muaro, Sijunjung. We will stop in Solok, so that Ican meet Nick who will be the closet volunteer to me (and currently the only remaining volunteer).

It also seems that not only have they furnished the house, provided a scooter to get to and from work, but also are providing a vehilce for when i wish to travel to Padang for the day or weekend?! I will let you know how it all goes over the next couple of days. I am still unsure of what sort of internet connection I will have once I get to Muaro, Sijunjung.

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