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Bukittinggi - A travel report by Amelie Soulard
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Bukittinggi,  Indonesia - flag Indonesia -  Sumatera Barat
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islandrat's travel reports

The promise

  4 votes
When looking through the back seat window of a mini-van (again!), it seems that the big train of development hasn't stop for long East to West Sumatra... but at the end of the road, there is still a promise.

Another 3-month period brings another short trip to renew my Malaysian visa. This time, we went to Indonesia. Destination: Bukittinggi, West Sumatra. As soon as we stepped on the ferry going from Melaka to Dumai, I could feel it coming. The lady sitting next to us took us under her wing and explained everything there is to know about Indonesian visas and immigration. Travellers from most of the Western countries most pay for a visa upon arrival. 1-3 days=10$US, 4-30 days=25$US. Her son comfortably settled on my boyfriend's laps to sleep while she fed us non-stop on corn chips garnished with peanuts and dry fish. At the immigration counter, the head officer calls me and keeps me in his office...just to chat (more or less openly trying to pick me up!). We finally leave shaking hands and promising to stop by when we return. It really seems that development hasn't reach Sumatra yet. From East to West Sumatra, the only road is so narrow trucks often have to pull aside to let other vehicles pass. The road is the most badly maintained I have ever seen: full of holes and bumps. The last miles before entering the small mountain town of Bukittinggi are done on a dirt track!

Favourite spots:
Bukit Tinggi means High Mountain in Malay/Indonesian. And the mountains are wonderful! Extincted volcanoes and canyons compose the picture of Bukittinggi's surroundings. The city itself is really cute and a walking tour is the best way to admire the local architecture and beautiful gardens and lanscaping arrangements. In Panorama Park, a visit to Japanese Cave is a must. During the Second World War, the Japanese forced Indonesians, mainly from Java and Sulawesi, to dig tunnels and chambers so they could hide weapons. Of the 5 kilometers of tunnels that were discovered, 1.5 is accessible for tourists. It is a bit scary when you think that several hundreds of Indonesian slaves died digging this hole!

What's really great:
But it isn't so much the view that captivated us, but the people. Everywhere we went, Indonesians, old and young were ready to tell fascinating stories about their town, to show us around, to offer us a drink! We ended up promising to come back to at least a dozen of persons. I realize now how difficult it is to keep this promise when travelling.

Please avoid the Zoo.
Head to Pasar Atas for cheap clothes, local snacks (they are addictive) and other bandar kecil (little things).
Trekking around the canyon and volcanos is also very popular!

It worth paying a bit more for a hotel room. Guest Houses are not very clean!

For the friendliness of the staff, 5 stars go to The Apache Cafe and The Rendez-Vous Cafe!

Published on Wednesday June 9th, 2004

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Thu, Jun 10 2004 - 02:14 AM rating by marianne

I enjoyed reading this and it reminded me of some beautiful days we spent in Bukit tinggi, and yes avoid the zoo.

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