Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Roadtrip to West Sumatera - Part 2

Continuing from my previous post on Padang here... We just left Bukittinggi and headed to Batu Sangkar to visit the iconic Pagaruyung Palace.

My travelmates in front of the grandest Mingakabau palace - the Pagaruyuang.
Pagaruyung Palace

Rumah gadang, or also known as a grand palace is an icon of West Sumatera and can be found in many parts of the province. They are solid wooden structures, beautifully carved and has sweeping roofs with pointed ends. This is also known as the Minangkabau style.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Roadtrip to West Sumatera - Part 1

I woke up around 3:30 am, miraculously still being able to feel my feet after all the hiking and climbing the day before. My small group of friends have planned to start early today for Sumbar roadtrip. Yayan purposely rented a car for us and he'll be driving.

We enjoyed sunrise from the car as we rode into an orange horizon lit day. Having to navigate around West Sumatera depending wholly on Yayan's mental map, all we could do was enjoy the view! Haha! Our first stop that day was Puncak Lawang. A famous viewpoint where we can see a panoramic view of Maninjau Lake. To get there, we had to go up 44 road turns that was unbelievably nerve-wrecking! This part of the journey is called Kelok 44.

Kelok 44

To get to Bukittinggi from Padang, one has to go through the famous Kelok 44. Why is it called that way? Well, because there are exactly 44 road turns with splendid view of the lake. Each turning point will be denoted with a signboard stating the current number of the turns.

How Kelok 44 looks from above. Pic taken from here. 
We actually made a short stop while going up Kelok 44. Guess where?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Hidden Gem - Sarasah Waterfalls of Padang, Indonesia

After hiking two hills in the morning, I slumped happily onto the mattress on the floor. Tired, I was hoping for a quick nap before lunch. But my host had different plans for us.

"Jard, get up! We're going to the waterfalls! Lunch first!" My roomie, Siti Nur shouted from outside our door. I was just about to close my eyes! +___+

I hastily put on my hijab and went out to the dining hall to see if it was true. I've noticed that Yayan has definitely came back from his exams and there was another guy at the dining table. He turned around as I approached and introduced himself as Syahrial, Yayan's friend from work. Going to the waterfalls required two motorbikes as there were four of us. Yayan will bring his and Syah's his, while the girls will ride at the back. :P

"You can't wear shoes. It will get wet" Yayan suddenly told me as I was putting on my shoes,
"I didn't bring any slippers" I told him.
"Wear mine." He showed me two kinds of sandals, signaling me to choose. Geez, this is my third time borrowing men sandals! Hahaha! First was Helga's in Jakarta (blogged here), second was Alid's in Vientiane and now here in Padang. This is a testimony that I have REALLY BIG FEET! Uwaaa!

Biting back the embarrassment that he noticed I had big feet, I diligently chose a sandal that had back straps on it. I also borrowed his backpack to put in water bottles as there'll be some jungle trekking to be done. After awhile, off we went! Siti Nur on Yayan's motorbike and myself on Syah's bike.

The ride to the forest where the waterfalls were located wasn't a smooth one. We had to drive over big rocks, upheaval dirt roads with big holes in them and endless bumps on the way. We finally came upon a small stream and parked near the area. Having to ask around, the locals pointed us to the correct way to the falls and so the trekking began.

The trail into the woods seemed endless... there wasn't even any sound of water splashing, almost dampening our spirits. After a half an hour or so, we came upon a wider stream over massive rocks. We decided to follow the stream upwards, with hope to find the waterfalls. It was from this point on-wards that we started to get wet. Very wet. Jumping and sliding into the water from time to time to get through. Hehe.

And voilla...

Look at how untouched it is. Haha. *ignore Yayan at the far right of the picture* 
I had no intention in bathing in the falls as no extra clothes were brought. But having to go through hell just to get here made it irresistible for us NOT to jump in!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Padang, an Earth-quake and Tsunami Prone Town

Just finished a working paper on a RM7.5 mill project. Right after I emailed it to my boss, I inserted the original soundtrack of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty onto my PC rom and started to blog away. :)

Padang... a town of a thousand tremors. Tremors why? Yayan (our host) said that he has experienced more than two hundred small earth quakes since he last moved there last October. Surrounded by active volcanoes and mountains, and also so close to the Indian ocean, I now could see why Padang is prone to earthquakes.
Padang, big wide ocean on one side and mountains on the other side. Earthquake and tsunami prone!
I suddenly remembered the headlines in 2009, where more than 1000 people died in Sumatera due to a massive earthquake. Having a local recalling the events in detail to me was horrifying. Yayan showed me the part of Padang which is now known as 'kota mati', translated as dead town. Buildings were left empty as they shifted to higher ground, inland. Yayan also showed me the hotels that were greatly devastated by the earthquake, claiming more lives of tourists than locals during that fateful day. Some of the hotels were quickly rebuilt and changed names to bury the dreadful past, but the locals will always remember.