Jason and Dawn - Around the world 2011 travel blog

Best crepes ever!

One minute there's sun, next a torrential downpour

LOVE Sumatran coffee time

The food is to DIE for, really!

The market town of Bukittinggi sits high above the valley mists as three sentinels, fire-breathing volcanoes - Merapi, benign Singgalang and distant Sago, all look on impassively. Modern life seems far removed until 9am. Then the traffic starts up and soon there's a mile-long jam around the bus terminal and the air turns the color of diesel. The mosques counter the traffic by cranking their amps to 11. Such is the incongruity of modern Bukittinggi, blessed by nature, choked by mortals. Lush, fertile, busy and at 930 meters above sea level, deliciously temperate all year round.

The town (alternatively named 'Tri-Arga', referring to the triumvirate of peaks) has had a checkered history, playing host at various times to Islamic reformists, Dutch colonials, Japanese invaders and Sumatran separatists. Bukittinggi was once a mainstay of the banana-pancake trail, but regional instability, shorter visas and the rise of lost-cost air carriers have seen the traveller tide reduced to a low ebb.

We hired a driver from Maninjau for 40,000 RP, to drive us directly to Bukittinggi. On our way up out of the crater walls of Lake Maninjau, we came upon a large truck that had somehow lost control on the winding road and had veered off hitting a tree. If the tree hadn't been there the truck and driver would have careened off the side, down the crater wall crashing into the valley floor below. I would imagine this happens quite often within these crazy 44 bends. (there are signs posted at every bend informing you at which number in the bend you are at)

They views of the country side going back into Bukittinggi were awesome, the sunny day played a great part in that. Once in Bukittinggi we had a bit of trouble finding a room, everything appears to be fully booked due to the school holidays. Jason wandered around for a bit, finally we decided on 'Rajawali', a hotel owned and operated by a German man by the name of Ulrich. A great guy who has a vast knowledge of the area and different treks to do around here. He married a local woman, years back and they have a little boy now.

Ulrich showed us a room up on the rooftop that was available. One thing about Ulrich, the man does not know the benefits of soap or deoderant. Wow does that man smell and so much so that when he showed us the room, Jason thought it was Ulrich who was smelling it up. Later we discovered that it was in fact the attached washroom and pillow/bedding. Needless to say we could only stay one night. Tomorrow we plan on going to Orchid to see if they have any available rooms.

We walked around town, went up to the clock tower and the square was packed with local vacationers. Soon enough we were bombarded by mascot wearing locals, bound and determined to have their picture taken with us. I tried to run away but when I looked back Winnie the Pooh had Jason and soon two other mascots came and grabbed me. Jason snapped the photo and sure enough they all wanted 5,000 rp each! We told them that was too much and gave them 1,000 rp each - I knew it....when we arrived at the square I had told Jason that it looked like a perfect place for rip-off artists and thieves. LOL

We discovered a local cafe that serves banana splits for 9,000 rp. We of course indulged in one, and we know this will not be the first time we will visit here. We ate at a local food cart, beef rendang which had baby potatoes in the sauce. Very good. The locals enjoyed us eating with them. Tomorrow we plan on doing a trek recommended by Ulrich, the Sianok Canyon walk just outside of Bukittinggi.

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