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.

Look at all those volcanoes on the West side of Sumatera!! All of each are ACTIVE!  (pic from google)
Besides the tragic history, Padang is also known for some mystic stories as well. We were shown two large trees situated in the middle of the highway in town. Yayan told us that during the placement of the roads, these two trees couldn't be cut down. So they had to build the roads around them. Then one fine day, one of the trees got caught in fire and is now just a stub in the ground. I actually felt a chill down my spine when we passed the trees. Hiiiiiiiiiiihhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Universita Andalas. Located on higher ground, which also makes it the best place to run to in case of a tsunami. 
You guys have to visit the Andalas University! I felt I was in some Adams Family movie set when we first frequented the area. The buildings were all in a grayish color creating a foreboding gloom to it.. I was fortunate to go here when Yayan had to go for an exam, leaving my friend and I with his parents. Seeing us with no fixed plans of our own, his kind parents decided to bring us around the university before sending us to Bukit Padang.

So after being briefed on the frightening stories of the 2009 earth quake, Siti Nur and I found ourselves on a hill surrounded by many Chinese graves! We wanted to climb the Padang Hill, but instead followed a school group of silat students with their teachers on their way to Pantai Air Manis. It was not until we found a sign at a T-junction up there that we realized we climbed the wrong hill.

We climbed Siti Nurbaya Hill instead and was met with this view; the Indian Ocean.

Indian Ocean on the left side, behind that tree! 
Minus all the graves, we had a lovely time watching the motorcyclists pass us by and walking down a paved small road with greenery all around us. It was right there and then, that I decided that I wanted to climb more hills and mountains after this. :)

I could imagine doing this kind of nature walk every day for the rest of my life. *lebay*
Unfortunately we had to go down from Siti Nurbaya's Hill and bade goodbyes to our new friends who'd continue their trekking to Pantai Air Manis while we start climbing another hill, the Padang hill.

Padang hill is an official tourist site in Padang where we had to pay a fee to enter. It houses the tomb of the legendary Siti Nurbaya who got involved in a loveless marriage. Her tomb is located in a cave somewhere during the hike to the top. I saw the cave but didn't enter it. Hehe.

Compared to the other hill, Padang hill was an easier climb with solid stairs going up. 
Besides seeing all of Padang town on the top, you'll also be greeted by some furry animals as well.
Advisable to bring some nuts to feed these fur-balls and they'll come to you like a swarm of bees! Hehe!  
Tired after having to climb two hills, we decided to head straight back to Yayan's house to rest and have lunch. And on our way down, we saw a better view of the Indian ocean.

Hey, that's the same island we saw back at Pantai Air Manis the day before! 
We reached the foot of the hill and asked a policeman there on how to get back into town. The police helped called another guy and that guy asked some teenager kid to bring us into town. Little did we expect that we had to get on a motorcycle as a TRIO!

Teenage kid in front, Siti Nur in the middle and me at the back. I was shocked that this thing was allowed in Padang! And a policeman recommended this! We rode into town for almost 30 minutes... without a HELMET!!! I almost swore under my breath when my legs got cramped at the back struggling to stay on. Hahaha. 

Threesome on a motorbike? Phew. I survived! 

Later we got on a minibus (a local transport that's almost identical to the jeepneys of Manila) and stopped near the junction that headed into Yayan's house. I thought a day of hiking ended there...cissss! When suddenly Yayan had this crazy idea of trekking to the waterfalls after he comes back from his examinations.

Well... that would be another story to tell. :)