Minangkabau Day 3

rani's picture

The last day Indi was supposed to wake up early for a game of golf, but the rain did not stop so everybody ended up waiting at the café and enjoying a prolonged breakfast amidst the rain. Finally, nearing 10am, everybody decided to cancel the golf game and boarded the bus to lake Maninjau.

It was a long yet scenic drive to the lake. We passed by a vegetable market, and I thought that I had never seen vegetable that fresh before. But who wants to buy cabbages that have been sat on for hours?

This is the daily trading price of vegetables. I wonder if Wallstreet is also listing them? Nevertheless, the price hasn't been updated since 2003. I guess there's not much difference between now and then.

More cabbages

Along the way, Noe fell asleep, perhaps because we woke him up quite early this morning. Even when he's asleep, he looks really serious and into deep thought.

We drove by the rural areas and villages. One thing that fascinates us, everybody in the villages and cities seemed to have satellite dish antennae. Even more fascinating, this device is forbidden in Singapore, except for a few particular institutions.

We stopped at a scenic point looking into a village down in the valley and took a lot of pictures.

Also, we passed by many rice fields and caught a glimpse of water buffalos.

After the scenic point we arrived at the beginning of "Kelok 44", or the forty-four turns along the curvy road down into the bank of Maninjau. Luckily the bus went on more slowly so that we did not experience motion sickness. There are a lot of terracing rice fields along the sloping ground. Along the road we saw a lot of monkeys. This is the view from the high turn, approximately turn 35.

When we arrived at lake Maninjau at waterfront Zalino, it was almost midday. Hence, we delayed our plan to do hiking until after lunch. And also, we chose shorter hike rather than the three-hour one. Waterfront Zalino is owned by Mr. Zalino, and he does a lot of things.

The lunch was the most delicious one that we experienced during the vacation. The chef was Ibu Mur and she was a great cook. Combined with fresh ingredients, the result was heavenly. Lunch consisted of anchovy dumplings (Like perkedel, made from ikan teri), stir fry vegetable, butter chicken (really really nice), and the ultimate dish: grilled Nila fish with chili sauce, specialty of Lake Maninjau.

The fish was grilled into perfection, so that the meat was still moist and juicy. And the freshness of the fish caused the meat to be easily separated from the bones. Also, the taste of fish fat mixed with chili soy sauce lingered in my mouth for a long time. It was finger licking good. All the guests couldn't believe that I spent time dissecting the head and eating the remnant of the head, including the eyes. I even asked Bu Mur to pack the leftover heads to take home. The perfect lunch by the lake was closed with a cup of simple black coffee, roasted in a traditional way. The coffee was mature and full-bodied with minimum acidity and smoky flavor.

After such a big lunch, it was time to shed some fat by hiking. Mr. Zalino, the owner of the waterfront restaurant / hotel and an experienced guide, picked us up to go to the hiking place. He is also experienced in organizing boat trip and traditional boar hunting trip. He explained that we were going to hike to the first and nearest waterfall, Sarasah, which is one of seven waterfalls in the area. After saying goodbye to Noe and leaving him with the grandparents, Catherine and we're off to the hiking place. The other kids went swimming and the other adults went on renting motorbikes to go around the town. The hike started at the base of the mountain, at the village along the fields and orchards.

We saw a fresh wild boar footprints.

Indi was well equipped with GPS receiver. However, in deep forest with tight canopy, this device is largely useless.

Mr. Zal also showed us wild berry tree and dared us to eat some of the fruit. It was really sweet.

He also showed us the poison ivy trees (jelatang) that we needed to be careful of, if we don't want to get burning itch for a few weeks. Using his parang, he cut down the poison ivy trees along the way. This is one of 7 poison ivy types that you should be aware of. Touching them will make you suffer for weeks. Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans or Rhus toxicodendron), in the family Anacardiaceae, is a woody vine that is well-known for its ability to produce urushiol, a skin irritant that causes an itching rash for most people, technically known as urushiol-induced contact dermatitis. In extreme cases, corticosteroids can be used to treat rashes.

We also saw wild orchid, which is a rare sight in Singapore.

We saw huge forest ants, and some fungus.

The walk was quite difficult due to the steep ground and slippery rocks. Our new hiking shoes do not really work in slippery rocks, but they work well on ground. Also, our decision to wear short was a bad one, because there were lots and lots of poison ivy trees. We were lucky not to get anything nasty along the way.

While hiking, Mr. Zal shared with us stories of his life and about traditional hunting. Once he had a dog called 007 who was the best hunting dog he ever had. The dog would always return last after all other dogs, and would always accomplish his mission. But one day, the dog did not return and MIA. He was sad because of it. He also said that as many as 3000 dogs are used in traditional hunting mission. He also mentioned that he had just killed a pregnant deer. The fetus, which was dead, is preserved in the Zalino waterfront restaurant.

Mr. Zal also mentioned that he didn't want the waterfall area to be developed into a more accessible place for everybody because the natural area would be ruined by irresponsible people who throw away trash everywhere and destroy nature. By keeping the area as natural as possible, only a particular kind of tourists would come the one that are particularly interested in nature and would treat nature better than ordinary tourists. This explains why the hiking trail was quite difficult, there were no pathway built to the waterfall.

After about 45 minutes hike we arrived at the Sarasah waterfall. It was about 30 meter high approximately. Too bad we couldn't read GPS satellite because the tropical forest canopy is too thick.

On our way down, we had to be helped by Mr. Zal and his assistant, or else we would roll down the slippery rocks. We almost stepped on a centipede. Somehow, the R-selected species grow big in the forest? As you see with the caterpillar here, and the forest ants above.

Then at the base of the mountain we were greeted with a beautiful view of the lake.

Back in the village, we bought ten pieces of anchovy otah from local seller. Indi also tried tiny cooked mussels from the lake. Back in the Zalino restaurant, Noe dashed to greet me. Here, I asked Bu Mur about the poor pregnant deer, and she showed me the fetus preserved in brandy / whisky. She said that many customers from china or korea love drinking fetus-brandy mixture as tonic or traditional medicine.

We then said goodbye to all the crew of Zalino Waterfront

And we continued the long drive to Ngalau Indah cave near Payakumbuh. A long day trip may caused your nose to invested with boogers. Rani is performing her late afternoon rituals.

This is the view of Payakumbuh from the hill where Ngalau cave is located.

This is what happened to Singaporean tourists each time we saw a scenic spot.

Indi carrying Noe on his back while climbing up the steps at the Ngalau Indah cave near Payakumbuh.

Indi with Philip Ong who was trying in decipher the Chinese characters on the walls. Perhaps written during colonial era. Yeah, because Chinese Indonesians nowadays don't really write chinese character anymore, after 30 years of ban.

In the rural area of west sumatra, even the son of the drink stall lady owns a playstation.

Our last stop of the night was Bukittingi. We had half an hour before dinner so we decided to roam around the city center and the market. That day was high school graduation day, so all high school students expressed their excitement by writing and drawing on the school uniforms.

Even religious students with headscarves were fully graffiti-ed too.

From the central square, we continued to the market because Rani is looking for Dadih, which is the water buffalo yogurt.

On the way, we passed by squashed grilled banana seller (seasoned with brown sugar sweetened shredded coconut) and Catherine decided to give it a try.

The scene of the market at dawn is really interesting. We saw some old people playing domino, satay seller started his business, snack seller closing down for the day, and public toilet open 24 hours a day.

I don't know why Minang people really likes to decorate stuff, from cars to trucks to buses, and even payphones too. Look at this one, it is intricately decorated.

We then had dinner at Famili Benteng restaurant, which served traditional Minang food in traditional way: serving all the dishes on the table in tiny plates.

Noe was having a great time with the girls. He never seem tired at all! What an amazing energy he has. He said, ""My girlfriends are waiting for me in Singapore!"

Isabella looked surprised when Kainoe told her that he's got several girlfriends waiting for him in Singapore.

We finished dinner quite late, and many of us dozed off in the bus.

The next day we returned to Singapore. Noe met the lady passenger from the same outbound flight. Noe spent most of his time in the flight playing with Thalia.


Lake Maninjau

We go to this place about 4 or 5 time a year and we love Sumatra a lot. We also go to Lake Singkrak which is about 2 hours from maninjau.

We spend a lot of time paragliding around these places.

Im not sure if you are aware but the satellite dishes are for the land line telephone network and not for cable tv. You will see then at the public telephone booths as well. I will be back there next week and will go paragliding with friends from KL, Singapore and Jakarta.

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