West Sumatra and onwards

Lots of moving and a little bit of sitting still

By Susan

After a long wait in Nias for a boat, then a long overnight boat ride and a ten hour bus ride the next day, we eventually got to lake Maninjau. The drive to the lake was stunning. There were 40 hairpin bends on the descent down to the water and the lake shimmered and sparkled like silver. Once we got there – walking through the rice paddies to the lakeside – we basically didn’t move very much for a few days. We had a nice little bungalow and we’d just have to walk a metre or so to the little restaurant for some delicious food. A lovely English couple called Rod and Helen were also staying there so we’d sit chatting to them for hours drinking tea. The local Imam also came by for chats – sometimes with his friend, an english teacher. It was lovely to sit still for a while after all the moving.

From lake Maninjau we had a shortish journey to Padang. After saying that Chinese culture in Indonesia was pretty much lost, we found a lovely Chinese temple in the city. There were lots of old painted tiles on the inside walls and a brightly coloured mural outside featuring Taoist gods.

After a few days in Padang we had a whopping 30 hour bus journey to Bandarlampung right down in the south of Sumatra. We took a super executive bus, the best we could get. It had nice big seats and wasn’t too smoky. I managed to sleep a bit and we stopped for food from time to time. It wasn’t as bad as we feared it might be.

In Bandarlampung we’ve treated ourselves to a swanky-for-us hotel with hot water, cable tv and buffet breakfast. Tomorrow we’re on the road again, heading to Jakarta.

Lazy lazy we’re half crazy

By Pete

It seems as though the closer we’re getting to the end of our journey the more time we spend traveling. Well, that and staying still I guess.

The four days we spent at Lake Maninjau were certainly pretty holiday-like. We probably could have spent some of our time looking around, doing treks, seeing some wildlife, meeting locals and the like, but we didn’t. The glassy water, beautiful clouds, delicious food, a pack of cards, good company and some interesting books were enough to leave us with no inclination to move much further than a 20 metre radius from our bed – and I think I only got 20 metres away when I was swimming.

Getting from Maninjau to Padang was pretty easy – only a couple of hours in a small bus – nothing compared to some of the journeys we’ve been taking lately. Padang’s a bit of a grotty old town but it served us well. A major highlight was the really delicious fresh seafood we ate while watching the sun go down over the Indian Ocean.

Spending 30 hours on a bus forms a big part of my recent memory right now. We took a bus along the windy (that’s wine-dy not win-dy – winding is maybe better, or loopy – swervy is probably the most accurate only problem being that I don’t think it’s a real word) Trans Sumatran “highway” between Padang and Bandarlampung. Luckily we had that hellish train journey into Budapest way back when… It serves as a great benchmark that as yet can’t be beat – the bus ride didn’t seem so bad by comparison.

And now we’re in Bandarlampung and I’m pleased to say that we have actually left the hotel once over the last two days. I was pretty impressed by that – wasn’t sure we’d make it but we did. A 30 hour bus ride makes little things like an air conditioned quiet room with an attached bathroom with hot water seem like the peak of all luxuries. We’re really appreciating it.


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