… Africa, Australia (+ New Zealand) and Asia

The return to Indonesia

with 6 comments

It happens when you have liked a place… and in this case Indonesia was the place to come back. Having visited Bali and Java, I “convinced” Noemi that Sumatra was perfect as the next destination. On arrival on Kuala Lumpur I found out that not all EU citizens have the same rights in Asia. Noemi as a Spanish citizen had to buy a flight out of Indonesia but I was OK without it (as I remembered correctly from my first visit)! So we did buy a ticket out to Kuala Lumpur again from Medan once more. Sumatra is huge (the 6th biggest island in the world) so having to fly from Medan (which was the point of entrance as well) would limit us and make us not reach all the way down south (pity). Oh well, in any case Sumatra was waiting for us!

Bukit Lawang jungle fever

Bukit Lawang jungle fever

First stop Medan (obviously) and from there the village of Bukit Lawang. It was a very nice surprise to be there. Amin and Rinto were our guides in what has been a full day trekking in the jungle of the village. We were lucky enough to see six orangutans in the wild too! The village was recently destroyed by floods but the resilience of the people living there, made them rebuild the most of it in 2 years! We had a great time and all I can hope for its future is less deforestation (by a company called London Sumatra Indonesia TBK) and more support for the rangers and the national park (well I said it but it sounds more like a prayer than anything else…).

Gunung Sibayak

Gunung Sibayak

Next stop; Berastagi and its volcanoes. To reach the town we had to backtrack to Medan and take another bus to there. In Berastagi we stayed in Losmen Sibayak, one of the few option in the noisy but rather cosy town. To climb Gunung Sibayak (Indonesia’s most accessible volcano as we were told) we had to try twice! The first day we took the wrong bus, but we did find some hot springs and soaked our bodies in it. The second time we had learned our lesson and took off the right point. The overall impression is a moderate one – if you have seen other volcanoes in Indonesia. Also the road up is mainly made for cars! After saying goodbye to Bonnie (our new friend in Berastagi) we would head out for Lake Toba – the biggest lake in Indonesia.

Danau Toba - Tomok

Danau Toba - Tomok

From Berastagi we go to Kabanjahe. From there it is a 3-hour journey to Simpang Raya and from there 1 hour to Parapat. From there and with a ferry to Tuk Tuk we were in the island of Samosir – the island in the middle of Lake (or Danau) Toba. There we just had to take a rest and staying the most of the days in Merlyn Homestay we did just that. Just in front of the lake, we would swim, walk, rent a bike (even if it did not last long – not used to it) and visit villages (like Tomok and Ambarita) and markets. What’s specific about the area is it’s Batak traditions and people with their strangely hatched houses and their beatiful music. I should not forget to mention that in Merlyn Guesthouse I ate the best BBQed fish (with some Batak sauce) in years!!! Thanks for that Rio.

Gunung Merapi

Gunung Merapi - 2968 m

The transition to Bukittinggi was not that easy. We arrived to Parapat (the port of the lake) midday but the bus did not go until 22:30! So we wandered around for a bit, drinking a lot of… tea. After 15 hours we get there and we check in at Rajawali Homestay, owned by a German expat having married an Indonesian for the last 9 years. The main attraction here, the Merapi volcano, or else Gunung Merapi. We had heard a lot about it in Berastagi and we got ready to do it! The advice of Ulrich (Rajawali’s owner) was to do it Saturday so we hadn’t had to pay for a guide. The reason; many people are climbing it, mainly students and local groups. So we did. Along with us came a French couple and Jean, another French guy. I have talked before about French people always keeping me company when climbing volcanoes in Indonesia and I think this time I just proved myself right! We start climbing at 21:30 and reach near the top at about 02:00. There we have to make a fire as we freeze to death – clothes soaking wet. In the meantime we are followed by some Indonesians that protect and guide us at all times! How helpful they were! At about 04:00 in the morning we are up but the first light is not until 06:15! So we all hug together trying to keep warm. When the light comes it is beautiful… Besides the volcano, we visit a local traditional wedding party (more of a lunch) and walk a railway line from Padang Pajang to Limbau Anai. Very good times indeed…

Mount Tuju

Mount Tuju

Next and last stop before flying out of Sumatra (;(), is Kayu Aro or Kerinci as it is called in general. Kerinci is another volcano, this time of 3805 meters of altitude. We arrive there after 8 hours and check in – after finding it in the dark – at one of the most lovely and homely places I have been on this travel. Mrs Lucia, a catholic Indonesian is a great host and a most excellent cook. Gunung Kerinci is not meant to be climbed by us though. We are both feeling a bit ill and I have some infection on my right foot (which is now perfectly OK) so we just eat and rest well. Our last day there I climb Mount Tuju, an ex-crater now-lake of an easy ascent (about 3 hours). Here I also finish my book (“Dharma Bums”). On 12th of July we take a night bus to Padang and from there we fly to Medan. There we would stay one day and take the next morning flight to Kuala Lumpur….

Once more, having seen a bit of Sumatra, I have to say; Indonesia is a great place to be. Terima kasih banyak!!!


6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hey there! Nice blog and great pictures too!

    I’m currently travelling down Sumatra myself and I wouldn’t mind climbing Gunung Kerinci. Do you know if it’s possible to climb it at this moment in time?? I keep hearing it’s too active and it’s been closed for climbing?? Do you know if this is true??

    Any advice much appreciated!!
    Take care, and happy travels..



    July 19, 2009 at 3:17 PM

  2. Hello Lee!!!
    You can definetely climb Kerinci. Always check for “eruption” rumours in Indonesia. If you do, go and stay in Kayu Aro in the Homestay Binardus Darmin in Kersik Tua. There a lovely woman called Ms. Lucia will cook lovely food for lovely people in lovely prices. It is absolutely lovely and you will love it. We stayed there 5 nights! Be good and thanks for passing by. Oh yeah, homestay’s telephone number is: 0748 357070. You will also need a guide. Ask for Pani and say hello from Matthew the greek ;)))


    July 19, 2009 at 4:22 PM

  3. blognya mantaf , jgn lupa kunjungi blog q juga ya

    hima muchlashin

    August 21, 2009 at 11:38 AM

  4. Hello Hima! Unfortunately I do not understand Bahasa Indonesia THAT much! Thanks for passing by ;))


    August 22, 2009 at 5:18 AM

  5. asyiknya sobat2 ini bs mlanglang buana ke penjuru indonesia…saya jadi iri dengan kesempatan sobat2 ini..


    August 22, 2009 at 1:59 PM

  6. ;))


    August 31, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: