Published: August 21st 2012August 21st 2012
surrounded by volcanoes
After our jungle trekking in Bukit Lawang we came to Berastagi to chill out for a few days. It's a fairly large (population 600,000) city set among picturesque mountains. Everywhere we turn there is a peak of one mountain or another off in the distance. Similar to the mountains of Java, it seems like we are almost living in the clouds. With the higher altitude, the weather here is slightly cooler and we seem to still get rain most nights - we are beginning to think it's a Sumatran thing. However, most mornings we woke up to sunshine and had three near perfect days to wander around town. The first thing we wanted to see was the fruit market! It is only about a 10 minute walk from where we were staying so we checked that out the afternoon of our first day in the city. There were so many different vendors all selling the same things! We had no idea where to start but it was starting to sprinkle so we stopped dead in our tracks, pointed to a number of different fruits we wanted to try and we headed back to our guesthouse with a heavy bag of fruits
for a measly $6. Money on fruit is always money well spent. Money spent on fruits you've never seen or heard of before is even more worth it! We got back to our room just before the rain started which meant the rest of the evening was going to be spent around our guesthouse. A lot of our spare time has been spent playing crazy eights in Indonesia so we decided to take advantage of our internet connection and learn something new. Gin it was! We spent the rest of the night playing cards before falling asleep.
The next morning we woke up, looked at our map and set off with camera in hand. It was the last day of Ramadan and a holiday for most people. While Berastagi has a fairly large population, one main road has everything you could need. We are never exactly sure where we are going when we set out on days like this one and we always find little surprises. The first thing we did was head to another market. The paths were very wet and muddy throughout it so we stuck to the outskirts. Rebecca bought some new socks for $0.50, some
we passed these cool dudes playing football (soccer) before finding the park. It seems most children know how to say "Hello, What is your name?"
pants for $3 and we moved on our merry way. We found a great little warung for a snack and had a delicious soto ayam (chicken soup). It has been difficult to find hole-in-the-wall restaurants the last few weeks. The touristy beach areas don't have the same kind of local cuisine (because they try to cater to a more western menu) so we were really happy to find it in Berastagi.
Near the end of the main strip we could see what looked like a park full of people and hundreds of kites in the air. We headed up a hill and crossed a football field with more shy giggling children before finding a huge beautiful park. There were families sitting under every tree taking advantage of what little shade there was on the sunny day. Hundreds of people were enjoying their day off in the fresh air with loved ones. The sense of community that so many Indonesians share is extremely refreshing. We also came across a church; It's so weird seeing churches in this area. Most people in Indo are Muslim but Sumatra has a large Christian population as well.
On our way back to the
guesthouse we had to stop in and get a better look at the fruit market. It turns out that it is much more than just fruit! There were a lot of vendors selling souvenirs, batik clothing, puppies, bunnies, grilled corn on the cob, flip-flops... pretty much anything. Tyler bought a really nice Brastagi sweater (the city goes by both spellings of the name) that will come in handy when we are in the Himalayas next month. After heading back to our guesthouse to change into warmer clothing - since it was now near dusk - we went back into the streets to find some grub. Surprisingly enough we ran into a guide from Bukit Lawang who came to Berastagi for the holiday! We played a game of pool, had some drinks and then headed off to bed. What a fun-filled day!!
The following morning we were pretty slow getting out of bed and getting breakfast but decided to go out to find some lunch. After some fried chicken, spicy vegetables and rice we happened to walk by the market which had been so muddy the day before and it didn't look quite as sloppy so we gave it another
chance. Tyler is on a mission to get some comfy slip on shoes. If you know how much he loved his So Goodz from Thailand, we are looking for something similar. They want 200,000rp (about $23CDN) for the Crocs version though and that is far too expensive... 100,000rp maybe. We didn't find anything else we wanted to purchase so went back to our guesthouse for another quiet night since we wanted to climb Mount Sibayak the next day.
The following morning we woke up to rain. We spent the last two gorgeous sunny days at markets and local restaurants and didn't even think of changing our itinerary due to weather. When we had looked at the forecast earlier in the week it called for rain every day though so we didn't think it really mattered what day we chose. Around 8am the rain had stopped so we packed our backpack and headed out to catch an opelet (local bus) to the entrance of the trail. We started hiking somewhere between 9:00/9:30 and were trying to be optimistic about the weather. It was still cloudy at this point but there were a few sunny breaks. The hike wasn't that bad
some spectacular view on the way up (before it rained)
at all, the majority of the trail was actually paved. It wasn't until the top third of the climb that it got more rugged and we were forced to watch our footing. That must be why they call it Sumatra's most accessible volcano. Most other hikers must have been discouraged by the weather because we only saw a couple of other people along the way. The closer we got to the crater, the louder the hiss of sulfur blasting out of the fumaroles was getting. We made it to the top, took a few pictures and had just sat down to enjoy our bagged lunches when it started to rain. With no cover in sight we had to make the best of it. We covered the backpack in a poncho to help keep the contents dry and started back down the mountain. The rain didn't stop, it actually poured for pretty much an hour while we descended a “trail” that had quickly turned into a stream. Our shoes became puddles and our rain jackets had soaked through. We were absolutely drenched by the time we got back to the paved section of trail. Instead of going back the same way
Mt Sibayak + Tyler
he loves volcanoes
we came, we took a turn that would hopefully lead us to some hot springs. Since we were so wet, there was nothing to do but enjoy the rain. It was slowing down a bit by this point and Rebecca couldn't resist the urge to jump in a couple puddles.
The rain eventually stopped but our map was useless so we just kept heading in the direction we thought the hot springs to be in. When we found the hot springs we laid our wet clothes out in the sun while we soaked our sore muscles in the hot baths. After maybe 30 minutes, we decided we should probably figure out how to get back to our guesthouse. We put our wet clothes back on and our puddle shoes and headed in the direction a local had pointed us in. The bus wasn't scheduled to leave for another 50 minutes so we filled our bellies before taking a very very very crowded 40 minute drive back to Berastagi. Showers were first, then hanging our wet clothing.
Tomorrow we go to Danau Toba. We are taking public transportation all the way which means three buses and a ferry! The
We were walking on dried lava from the last eruption from more than a century ago
adventures continue :)
xoxo Ty + Becs
There are more photos below