Jason and Dawn - Around the world 2011 travel blog

Traditional drying of rice

Ekky, throwing the fish down to the local owner to put into...

Throw some pavement chunks down, road is good as new!?

Our "Hot Rod"

Imagine posters like this is Canada, NOT!

Love the colors on this cow

Our humble abode at Harris's

The surrounding scenery is breath taking

It doesn't get any better than this

Awe inspiring

Local children, backflipping into the river naked!

Local valley scenery, so beautiful and serene

Amazing waterfall

Monkey twisting the coconuts, throwing them down

Monkey Trainer

"Pig Pen", water buffalo

Beetle protecting her eggs

AnothernBeetle protecting her eggs

Rhinoceros Beetle, it's a real beaut

This morning we were graced with sunshine and blue skies. For breakfast we were served each a chocolate pancake, accompanied by a delicious Sumatran coffee, enjoyed by the surrounding views of the towering valley karsts limestone mountains.

We took a group tour of Harau valley with our guide, ‘Ricky’ a friend of the family. Jason and I on our motorcycle, Neil doubled up with Ricky and Lee and Ekky borrowed Ricky’s bike for the days journey.

First stop was a picturesque roadside view of the valley, from there we stopped and did a short hike up the side of one of the mountains to a lookout point over the valley. We made our way deeper into the valley villages, stopping to see a local woman raking out and drying rice in the sun. Children played down below in a nearby river stream, doing back flips in the water. Ricky made us some fern leaf crowns to shade us from the hot sun.

As we made our way to a remote waterfall, we noticed something rather large climbing up the side of a hill. We stopped the bike to investigate, I spotted a single, solitary fish lying on it’s side in the dirt at the bottom of this hill. Obviously whatever it was, was going to have this fish for its lunch. Still alive and gulping for air, we tried to figure out how a fish could end up here. In the end we figured it out. A lady had passed us by on her motorcycle on our way up here, she had two baskets fastened on either side of her bike where she was transporting fish to a hatchery of some sorts located just below this hill. The fish had fallen out at some point and whatever animal it was had discovered it and proceeded to take it home for lunch. (or at least that was the plan before we came by)

We couldn’t leave this poor fish in the dirt, gulping for air so Ekky picked it up and carried it over to a local farmer who was going to take it and put it back into her hatchery pond where it originally was supposed to go. We were up on a slight hill so Ekky tossed it down to her, she missed it and the fish suffered a slight “smack-down” on the hill side. It was still alive, the farmer picked it up, happy to receive it back she proceeded to carry it down a path to where we thought freedom would be for the fish. Instead she flopped it down on the ground, leaving us to know that it just became, “What’s for lunch?”, so is life I guess.

Back on our bikes we made our way to the waterfall. Ricky told us that soon there would be bungalows built on site for a foreign owner who intended to setup a homestay here. Lucky for us, we were the only ones there. We made a short trek to the waterfall, took off our shoes, rolled up our pant legs and made our way through the pool of water to the rock base of the falls. We all relished in the cool, refreshing, crystal clear water - a nice way to refresh ones self before continuing on.

We made our way up a steep, gravel hill (Lee, Neil and I walked up, while Jason, Ekky and Ricky drove the bikes up) and made our way back down again into the other side of the valley floor. We stopped at a local hut cafe, had some kerup chips for a snack and refueled on water. Ricky drove down the street to find a local man who owns a monkey that climbs coconut trees and clears them for a living. He arranged for the man to bring the female down to us, to get us some young coconuts (we wanted to drink some fresh juice) down from a nearby tree.

When he arrived he let the female monkey climb up the tree. She situated herself and started to pluck away, soon old coconuts began to fall to the forest floor. It did however take her a long time to decide which coconut and when she wanted to get down. Twenty years she has been doing this job and she was trained to get the old coconuts down, not the new young ones so unfortunately she was only going after the old. We thanked the owner, paid him 10,000 rp each, thanked the monkey and left without our coconut juice - I’m sure the monkey felt the same, as she left without any banana’s from us.

We ate at a local restaurant, ‘Padang’ style. We made our way back to Abdis, took a break and then we followed Ricky out to a spot nearby where he wanted to show us some Rhino beetles, we left Neil behind to catch up on some rest and relaxation. We stopped off at a little piece of land just off of the main road. Ricky disappeared into the trees and shortly after he appeared with a fantastic large shiny black Rhino beetle. We all took turns abusing him, making him pose for pictures. At one point he sunk his tiny beetle claws into Jason’s hand, he had a hard time handing him over to Lee to take her turn. Playing favorites, the beetle chose to fuse himself to her hand as well - I said it had to do with the soft hands being the attractant for both of them, seeing how it didn’t dig in with me.

Ricky had one more stop for us just down the road, two wonderful little beetles of different colors. Both were protecting a mass of baby eggs and newly hatched baby beetles. Jason took the most amazing photos of each mom and her cherished treasures. Thanks to Ricky, we got to see some amazing little bugs.

Lee and Ekky followed Ricky to the 4 waterfalls, the same place we went to yesterday. Jason and I stayed behind, on the hunt for more Rhino beetles. We managed to find the first one we tortured, took some more photos and Jason brought him back to his original home. I managed to spot another smaller sized Rhino beetle in a nearby tree but we left him alone and headed back to Abdis homestay for the evening. On our way back we stopped to take some photos of the surrounding valley.

Harau valley is amazing, it is a place where beauty has no end. Peaceful, with soaring karsts limestone mountains surrounding you, you feel like a tiny spec of human life living in a massive punch pool of goodness. We love it here. For now it’s not a tourist trap, the masses are not showing up to tarnish the back packer’s reputation or the locals perceptions, it’s hard to even find information regarding this hidden oasis. This is definetley a highlight for us in Sumatra.

Every night, Yogi, Noni’s brother comes around and lights the lanterns for us. Yogi also picks up the dishes and delivers us breakfast in the mornings. This is such a lovely place to stay, Ikbal and his family make you feel right at home. Once again, Ikbal and Noni served us supper, although this time it was in the rain. Curry chicken, rice and vegetables, on the side a wonderful warm cup of tea and a newly opened bottle of Bin Tang. After supper we met up with Neil over at Lee’s and Ekky’s humble abode. There we stayed, Neil in the hammock (he fell in love with ours as his bungalow did not come with one...now he’s two timing it with Lee’s) and the rest of us sitting in chairs around the table on the porch. We talked to the wee hours of the morning, Neil called it a night a few hours before we did. Tomorrow Ekky and Lee are supposed to go on a jungle trek with Ricky and another couple staying here but that may not be happening due to the nights events.

We shared great conversations, stories and beer together. Made new friendships that we hope will last a lifetime.

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