Jason and Dawn - Around the world 2011 travel blog

Lake Maninjau, Beach Inn

Our home for the next few days

Traditional Batak House Style

Leaping Gibbon monkey, first one we've ever seen in the wild

Sunset dinner on the dock

Traditional way of fishing, in behind you can see a local fish...

Our daily path to our Beach Inn room

Baby puppies in the local restaurant

Jungle walk into local village

Terraced rice fields

Three local teenage boys, loved getting their picture taken

The view from the village, before the storm

Wonderful landscape surrounds us

Large monitor lizard, on the beach just outside our bungalow door

Morning picture of Lake Maninjau

You can't see me!

Maninjau is one of Sumatra's most spectacularly peaceful crater lakes, our experience however entailed a lot of noise pollution from road traffic, late night cafe's booming out music, barking/fighting dogs and loud speakers from nearby mosques. The unforgettable final descent included 44 hair-pin turns that offer "stunning views over the shimmering sky-blue" lake (17kms long, 8kms wide) and the crater walls. Sadly, due to so much field burning the entire crater was filled with a smoke haze that shadowed the picturesque views. We can only imagine how this lake appears as the sun rises over the crater walls, onto the lake when there is no smoke, it must be outstandingly beautiful.

The lake is 480 meters deep in some places, the water is warm and outside of town they say the water becomes pure as liquid crystal. Many locals have turned to fishing due to the low rise in traveller's, as a result life passes by slower here, making it an ideal place to kick-back and relax and do nothing. It is very cool to be inside a massive volcanic caldera.

Our home for our stay in Lake Maninjau, is at the Beach Inn just outside the town of Bayou. We are in a very basic bungalow overlooking the lake. Very beautiful, but the first sight we were welcomed with was burning plastic from garbage right in front of our hut along the pathway. Smoke barreling into our room. Haris, the custodian tried to smother it out for us but it had been burning so long that the roots kept smoldering. When we went to bed that night, we started to choke on smoke as the wind had turned directions and the clouds of fumes found their way into our humble abode. Jason went outside in his underwear, grabbed a nearby pail and made several trips down to the lake for water to put the fire out. The dogs were barking at him, probably scared of the half-naked white man in a frenzy to put the smoke out. Eventually it worked, although it still smoldered a bit.

We took a 5km hike next day, up into the jungle, taking in breathtaking scenery of Bayou below and lake Maninjau. We got caught in a huge thunder storm making our way down the mountain, the rain was coming down so hard that the water was rushing in streams down the hill. The locals sitting under the cover of their roofs watched us as we made our way down, covered up with our rain coats. The water was so deep that our running shoes became soggy, heavy flip flops. When we got back to the main road and started to walk to our homestay, a passing truck took no measures to avoid getting close to us and splashed us with large puddles of mucky, cigarette butt filled water. By the time we got back to our room the bottom of our pants were soaked and our running shoes held no hope.

On our second day in Bayou, we caught a mini bus to the town of Maninjau. We had a bite to eat at Bago's, a local back packers tourist information stop. Food was awesome, this is where we discovered beef rendang and fell in love with it. Their iced coffee was devine and their homemade vegetable martabak was just as delicious. We walked around the town for a bit, not much to discover. We ate at the 'Waterfront' restaurant, watched the sunset over the lake. We missed the last mini bus back to the Beach Inn so we walked over 3kms in the dark back to our room. It was a great walk, we passed by many locals who were more than happy to greet us or stop us and have a chat. We saw a lot of food stalls, firing up their wok's and begin to cook the nights meals. Just outside of our homestay, a new restaurant sits and this is where we had our first 'Padang' style meal. Most of the dishes that were set at our table contained items of which we had no clue what they were, we played it safe and stuck with the chicken, rice and some dried fish.

We spotted some wild Thomas leaf monkeys up in the jungle trees on our first day here. We had taken a walk up the hill and had seen a monkey eating some plantation banana's. A group of them were together, but as soon as they noticed our presense they were gone. Jason captured a photo of one of them flying off one tree into another. That was the first and last time we would see the Thomas monkeys.

Haris, the custodian at Bayou Beach Inn made us banana pancakes one morning. He enjoys cooking and wants to take some lessons, right now pancakes is all he can make. Their female dog has a litter of six baby puppies, all very different and very small. She allows us near them, however she makes sure she is right beside us when we visit them. She won't allow any of the Indonesian men near them, she must not trust them.

Here at the lake we were lucky enough to spot some animals. One morning the dogs went running down to the beach and here a large monitor lizard was making its way across. Damn dogs chased it into the water but we managed to get a photo before that happened. Jason spotted a lizard on the bark of a tree, he had a flag of yellow skin stuck out like a sail, he was really cool. Every night we stayed here something comes crashing down onto the roof of our hut and scrambles about all night. It's of medium size and is not at all quiet, we never did find out what it was. Water buffalo hang out down by the waters edge, most slunk down in the water to cool themselves off.

Lake Maninjau is very beautiful, we wish we could have seen it without any smoke filled air but on certain mornings after the rain, the wind would come in and blow away the clouds and smoke just long enough to capture some great moments. We enjoyed our time here. Tomorrow we make our way back to Bukittinggi.

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