29 Apr - 03 May 2012 Bukittinggi

Republic of Indonesia
Bukittinggi (c. 930 m above sea level)
Jalan Teuku Umar 11
Orchid Hotel +6275232634 roni_orchid@hotmail.com
Clean and adequate twin room (no. 305) with Asian shower/toilet (this trip’s very last bak mandi, the common and very convenient Indonesian form of a bath, consisting of a large water tank from which the water is ladled over the body), including a slimmer’s breakfast for two, for only IDR 100,000.- or US$ 11.- per night; plenty of tourist information available. Friendly and very helpful staff; good English
Beer: 620-ml bottles of ice-cold Bintang Pilsener with c. 4.7 % alc./vol. for IDR 25,000.- or US$ 2.70 per bottle from the hotel.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Orchid Hotel in Bukittingi, which we would recommend, and for directions:

Exploring the easy-going and friendly hill town of Bukittinggi, which is surrounded by active volcanoes (gunung api or “fire mountain”), scenic lakes and steep canyons, a busy market town and the centre of Minangkabau culture, and discovering its two landmarks: (i) the Minangkabau-style clock tower that overlooks the large market square and (ii) the monkey-infested Taman Panorama Park (admission: IDR 3,000.- per person), on the southern edge of town, that overlooks the deep Sianok Canyon aka Ngarai Sianok.

Diving into the many hundreds of ramshackle stalls and shacks at Pasar Atas, Bukittinggi’s large and colourful market, on a Wednesday when the market is particularly vibrant, and almost suffocating in oodles of both extremely ordinary gear (e.g. genuine Chinese frillies for the devout muslimah) and extremely exotic gear (e.g. genuine French frillies for the devout muslimah) which are ballyhooed at every turn.

“Wearing trousers were nothing compared to reading the history of ideas.”

Matt: Teaming up with the excellent, 25-years old Batak mountain guide Ilham (from Roni’s Adventure Tour & Travel, +628126750688, roni_orchid@hotmail.com, IDR 300,000.- or US$ 32.50 per person for the very professional full-day package, all inclusive) and with fellow travellers Jin from Korea and Amelia & Tomasz from Poland and climbing together the smouldering summit of the 2,891-m high Gunung Merapi, one of Sumatra’s most restless volcanoes: (i) begin of the ascent at the village of Kota Baru at 6.00 a.m. (ii) arrival amid the sulphuric stench of the crater rim (a smell like the outhouse of a Bombay diner after the Sunday Curried Egg Special) at 12.00 a.m. (iii) begin of the descent at 2.00 p.m. (iv) back with aching muscles at Kota Baru at 4.00 p.m. (v) first bottle of ice-cold Bintang beer, back home at the Orchid Hotel in Bukittinggi, at 5.00 p.m. - cheers!

“The real difficulty about volcanism is not to see how it can start,
but how it can stop.”

Taking a convenient hotel-to-hotel minivan (Armada Tours, +627527020730, 90 km, 2 hours, IDR 40,000.- or US$ 4.30 per person) for the short down-hill ride from Bukittinggi to the flat, sprawling city of Padang, located on the narrow coastal plain between the Indian Ocean and the Bukit Barisan Mountains, the last station of our Northwest-Sumatra tour and West Sumatra’s food capital, famous for its spicy but not so vegetarian-friendly Padang Cuisine.

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