Sumatra - Day 10 - Merapi Valley Motorcycle trip
Jun 27, 2012
|Today we departed our friends; Lee, Ekky, Neil and Ikbal. We all exchanged contact information. Ekky and Lee kindly offered for us to stay with them in Medan, once we arrive there, if we have time before our flight out to Bangkok. Ikbal has been a great host here at Abdis, we thanked him for everything. Our stay here has certainly been a memorable one.
Ekky and Lee did not go on a jungle trek today, not because of the late night last night but because Ekky was bit by a large millipede during the night on one of his toes. It had crawled up their bed and through the open mosquito net, crawled over Lee and came to land on Ekky’s toe. Waking up from the pain, Ekky threw the comforter off, millipede then lost its head due to a death blow from Ekky’s flip flop. Ikbal through it into the pond the next morning, right beside their bungalow - it now “rests“ with the fishes or rather become fish food. Ikbal has been bitten about 10 times in his life and assures us and Ekky that the pain subsides in a few hours and becomes very itchy. Sure enough just before we were to leave, Ekky said his toe was already feeling a lot better. Never a dull day in the life of a traveller.
We said our good-byes and farewells, hopped on our motorcycle and we were off to explore the Merapi valley. It is said to be a very picturesque, beautiful scenic drive, it did not disappoint.
Marapi (also known as Merapi or Berapi) is a complex volcano in West Sumatra. Its name means Mountain of Fire, and it is the most active volcano in Sumatra. Its elevation is 2,891 meters. A number of cities and towns are situated around the mountain, including Bukittinggi, Padang Panjang and Batusangkar.
According to legend, the mountain is the site first settled by the Minangkabau people after their ship landed on the mountain when it was the size of an egg and surrounded by water. There are large numbers of upright burial stones in the region which are oriented in the direction of the mountain, indicating its cultural significance. Since August 3, 2011 Alert Level has been established by Center of Vulcanology and Mitigation Geology Disaster.
What a memorable ride, the valley views were glorious. Rice fields were a plenty. If it wasn’t for all the haze smoked filled air in certain places, from all the field burning the photos would have turned out better. Either way, Jason took some stupendous photo’s, as always. We went through many small towns, which offered photo opportunities of traditional Batak houses. We stopped at the ‘King’s Palace’ and right across the street we ate at a little “hole in the wall” mom & pop shop.
They served up the best chicken, tangy caramelized sauce with rice. Mom was watching our progress with our meal, when she saw us scrapping our bowls dry of the sauce to put on top of our rice, she snuck off into her makeshift kitchen and delivered us a bowl of extra sauce - all delivered with a huge smile. After we paid and we went to leave we told her it was, “Baguse” which means good or delicious in Indonesian. She smiled, grabbed my arm and squeezed it. What a gal.
On our way down to Lake , we stopped off at a bend in the road overlooking the lake, to take a few photos. All of a sudden two Indonesian guys yell something from their motorcycles and pull over right beside us. One guy gets off and immediately walks over to us. He was so happy to have seen us, he wanted to have his picture taken with us. The man was so excited he could barely get his words out. The other man with him didn’t speak much English at all, so he stayed pretty quiet but he was a very happy “pappy” as well. We arranged ourselves together, waited for them to take a photo, words were exchanged between the two. The other man who spoke very little English starts laughing and finally they tell us that in their excitement to have their picture taken with us, neither one of them realized their phones didn’t have photo capability. LOL
In the end, I took a photo of Jason with the two gentlemen. We told him that we would send him the photo through email. A funny exchange in conversation happened between Jason and the man who spoke fairly good English. Once he realized Jason would send him the photo, his next question was, “when?”. As we understood it, he has to go to a cafe or somewhere to get on the internet to check his email, this is why he wanted to know how many days it would be to receive it. Happy with meeting us, the men wished us a long and happy life before getting back on their bikes.
We stopped at a spot just down the hill that offered us great views of the lake. We stayed their for a few minutes, taking photos and stretching our legs. Day was turning into late afternoon and a thunder storm appeared to be coming our way so we carried on back into Bukittinggi.
When we arrived back at the Orchid hotel, they didn’t have a room reserved for us. Due to the school holidays, locals had streamed in from outside Bukittinggi, quickly filling up all the hotels. We looked at a hotel just down the street and it was a horrible place. We opted out, and decided to continue on looking. One of the workers from the Orchid saw us walking down the street and called us over, he proceeded to have Jason jump on the back of his bike and they went to see if they could find a room for us. In the mean time I stayed behind and while I was taking to the owner of the Orchid, Neil shows up - as luck would have it he arrived earlier today and grabbed a room at the here. It’s a small and wonderous world.
Jason had no such luck finding a room, we were about to go back to the horrible room up the street when Neil opened up his kind heart and invited us to bunk in with him. His room was on the 4th floor, at the top and contained three single beds, a shared bathroom with the other room up there. We graciously accepted his offer, shared the cost of 20,000 rp each and claimed our beds, one on each side of Neil. It’s nice to have company, especially with a friend that you have just met.
We had supper with Neil, while walking to the restaurant we met a girl named, ‘Ruby’. Neil had met her earlier in the day and they had chatted about climbing Merapi tomorrow night together. We invited her to join us and the rest is history in the making.