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Published: February 3rd 2007
Most Heart Wrenching site of the trip
Elephant tied to a 10ft chain, just standing there leaning against the tie down
For my taste of Sumatra, I followed a friends recommendation and took the bus down to Bukitingi before returning to PKU. I met Dominic at the guesthouse in PKU, and due to the fact that I had two beds in my room, the guesthouse was full, and the town had no other budget accommodation, his arrival late at night kind of lended itself well to our sharing a room. He was going down to Bukitingi as well, so I not only had a roommate for the night, but a traveling companion for most of my visit. Our arrival to Btingi demonstrated yet again why I love to travel in the off season. A quick peek around the city netted a room for a total of $2.50, = $1.25 each. This compared very well to our grossly overpriced digs in PKU. The $5 for our room there was, as Angus in Vietnam put it, 'an investment in the local economy.' The best part of our room was that it was on the top floor (in Asia, rooms in guesthouses get cheaper as you go up because there is no lift) and had a huge terrace right off of it. We were the
only guests on that floor, so even though our washroom was across the stairwell, it was almost private. The only people we shared with were the hotel staff who took their breaks up on the balcony. So, I was able to check out the great view of the city from my 'private' huge terrace.
The first day, we wanted to take a peek around the old Dutch Fort and the town Zoo that was connected to it. As we approached the Fort, I was asked by two young women wearing Islamic head coverings if they could interview me for a college project. Sure, why not. The sweet gals paid for the admission to the sites, and then asked me some questions about why I was traveling in Indonesia, who I was, etc. I guess they liked what they heard, because they invited me to go to their town (about a half hour away) and stay for night. Wow, didn't see that coming from two Muslim women. The cultural inhibitors that would prevent two women in Egypt from inviting two western men to visit were obviously not present here. As it turned out, since Dominic was continuing onto another destination
Twice weekly market
These horses were moving all around, and the carts with them
in the North, it didn't work out. They thought it would be complicated for him to catch the bus from their town back, and then make his connection or something along that line. Anyway, it was the thought that made the cultural distinction: Indonesia may be the largest (population wise) Muslim country in the world, but it sure is not going to lead the Muslim world down some fundamentalist path. Dominic left 1 day before I did, but we did catch the Friday market together before he departed. After he left, I rested up for the blitz to come (Malaysia, Brunei, The Philippines) before my next resting 'stop' in Hong Kong. The best food of the trip was the Panang Food restaurants. You go in, and 30 seconds later have a whole buffet set out in front of you. About 15 dishes, and they charge Al la Cart. So, just choose what looks good, and put it over your rice. Good, good food. Oh, and I also had the best, best chocolate bread. Soft bread, and guey chocolate inside. Fantastic!
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