Lake Maninjau Cycle Challenge

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October 9th 2005
Published: October 10th 2005
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After arriving in Lake Maninjau, my guide left me. It was raining and I was damp and alone in a strange land. A motorcycle took me to my homestay (read hostel) - Lillie’s.
I had to weave my way through the rice paddies for about 5 minutes from the road to reach the homestay. Arriving was a surreal experience. A cluster of chalets nestled amongst luscious trees, right against the lake, and there was no one in sight. The cafe was complete with coyboy style swing doors; it all felt like it was some sort of jungle ghost-town. Eventually the attendant woke up, and showed me to my room right on the lake. I suspect I was the only westerner in miles.
I spent the rest of the day in quiet contemplation, writing my journal as solitary locals in dugouts drifted by checking on their nets in the lake. My only company a friendly cat that was quite happy to make itself at home on my lap. I was just happy to have something animate to talk to.
The next day I took up the challenge of cycling round the lake. It was 51-70km depending whose estimates you go by. The ride was breathtaking. Initially I was escorted by rice paddies either side of me. They faded off into the lake on one side and on the other, straight jungle, rising vertically with the mountains. I past through a number of small villages and was greeted with many a cheerful hello. Various produce was laid on the road to dry in the morning sun, and I pondered the effect of me riding through a sheet of drying rice!
As I finished my ride, four hours later with a very sore arse, I saw a group of travelers who had just finished their trek. One of them then called out "Michael" I don't think my brain even had a chance to process hope bizarre this was. The traveler (Jean-Marie) had visited the same English school as me in Dumai, and recognized me from photos there!!!
That evening a local invited me to have dinner with him and his family. After an amazing meal, we engaged it a fascinating conversation about politics, international relations, religion. He was devoted Muslim, and believes in a Jewish conspiracy behind 9/11, the Bali bombings and the media. However he was very receptive toward what I said and his heart was definitely in the right place.
Leaving Lake Maninjau was slight nightmare. My lift didn't show, so I caught a ride with a local of his motorbike. Half way up the hill he got a flat tire, and after trying to demand money out of me (I had already paid for petrol), left me there. I began to make my way up the hill on foot, however the monkeys soon began to circle, baring their teeth. Before I could take advantage of this photo opportunity, a taxi arrived, like Tarzan on a vine, whisking me to safety, and probably hideously overcharging me in the process.

Sorry - No photos now, the connection here is abit dodgy. While put some up as soon as possible.

Additional photos below
Photos: 4, Displayed: 4


10th October 2005

sounds amazing... giving me more and more reason to take off instead of goin back to NZ next year!
10th October 2005

hey :)
Been reading your blog - sounds amazing! Still suffering from the travel bug myself, if only i didnt have to go home next Feb!!! Nottingham is all good and met some cool people hope to hear from ya soon xx
10th October 2005

Great Adventure
Love reading your experiences - D
11th October 2005

Hey Michael. This is travelling the way it should be mate. Love reading all your adventures. Keep it coming!
11th October 2005

I have caught up with your writings of your amazing trip so far. My jealosy is only surpased by my respect - nce one brother! Keep up the adventures and away from the monkey in the closet.
13th October 2005

hey babe!! your trip sounds amazing! am loving the updates and its so you!! take care!
21st October 2005

any possums?
28th October 2005

What an adventure
Heya, Am enjoying the beautiful photos and the descriptive storytelling :) Hope you keep having a wicked good time.
25th November 2006

hello Michael, this is my email add I learn ning to use it Im your guide before, remember sent me some letter :

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