Published: May 25th 2006May 8th 2006
The entire walls of this beaten up old house were covered in these beautiful patterns
After I got back from Maninjau I stopped off in a Cafe - Bedudal, which has now became my nightime haunt - for some lunch with all my bags before I checked into a hotel. That's where I met Aaron a friendly Kiwi guy who came and sat with me. He's an artist and travelling for four months to find some inspiration and he's into energies of places and Tai Chee (sp?), that sort of thing.
The afternoon I met him I checked into his hotel as it was much better than the one I had been staying in and then we went to check out a place called Sianok canyon together. There are some interesting Japanese tunnells dug into the cliffs and some pleasant walks around the area. While we were there we decided to head to a nearby village known for silver craftmenship and along the way found ourselves suddenly being guided by a local.
The next thing I know we have walked a long way down through the canyon and he has led us to a small secluded waterfall upstream. He was overly keen on us all having a shower naked together under the waterfall. I
Rafflesia flower. Pretty big huh? Note also my pleasantly sweaty legs from hiking in the humidity.
wasn't so keen but Aaron stripped of without a moments hesitation and eventually under peer pressure in an attempt to not look homophobic I caved in and went in with them. Things continued to get a bit more dodgy from there, climaxing with him telling me how it's ok to be gay in Indonesia and asking if I like boys.
Later that night, back at the bedudal cafe, we were having a drink with Christine and a few of the other locals. I told her about the story and after we showed her a picture, she and the other locals burst out laughing telling us that the guy was gay and was getting a cheap thrill out of the whole thing.
Aaron and I have been hanging around together ever since and the day after meeting (yesterday) we decided to rent some motorbikes to get out and see the surrounding area.
After a late start we had obtained 2 bikes and called in Christine to act as our guide. Another Indonesian guy who is learning to be a guide also jumped on the back of one bike and came along for the ride.
The day was
Food glorious food
Padang food is the best I've had in Indonesia. You normally choose two or three different dishes for your meal
awesome and using a motorbike has yet again proved a priceless and unique way of gaining an insight into a place. For beauty Indonesia is amazing. All day we were riding, and we covered several hundred km's by the end there was beautiful scenery. Mountains and large imposing volcanoes with clouds whisping around them were always visible, lush green and often steeply terraced rice padi's were everywhere with local people wearing the typical wide brimmed hats working in them. I will never forget watching the sky turn vivid purple behing the silhouette of a battered looking Gunung Merapi from the seat of a motorbike cruising along surrounded by rice paddies, coconut palms, the gorgeous eloborate Sumatran buildings and mosques bellowing out versus of the Koran (they do this all day from something crazy like 4.30am it seems). For those who don't know Gunung Merapi here is a large, volatile, active volcanoe NB: not the Merapi of Java that's currently blowing it's lid.
I got the chance to finally see a Rafflesia flower without too much hassle, which seems to be something everyone is questing after doing. It was suprisingly impressive and I'm glad I did get to see it
The small entrance to the enormous cave (not visible here) we stopped to look at
in the end (I had resisted in the past due to my cheapskate ways which I'm trying to repress these days). We didn't get to see the 6ft tall monster flower though which looks much bigger in photos than the Rafflesia - I know the Rafflesia is supposed to be the largest flower in the world but this thing was definately bigger - it looks amazing in the photos.
The three other main things we went to see were the Harau valley, a big cave and a replica of the kings palace which was impressive - the former more than the later of the two.
One disadvantage of being away for so long now is that, with a few exceptions, I'm starting to feel a little muted to a lot of this stuff now - like I'm not getting the most out of it. Maybe it will pass but who knows.
There are more photos below