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Sianok Canyon, Bukit Tinggi, Indonesia

Bukittingi is a beautiful city, rich of hilly landscapes. And the most prominent is Sianok Canyon. This canyon is a narrow valley surrounded by ravine and engraved with the river flow in the middle. The contour was created by the collapse of earth slab, which yielded as a fault of  deep ravines. 

The canyon stretchs over 15 km from the south of Nagari Koto Gadang to Nagari Sianok Enam Suku, with the depth ranges from 100 to 200 m. 

Sianok fault is part of Semangko fault which cuts across Sumatera Island in two long parts horizontally from Aceh to Teluk Semangko in Lampung. Semangko fault location which creatres Bukit Barisan mountains.  Ngarai Siano is the obvious visual of the tectonic fault movement in Sumatarea Island. The process creating a marvelous fertile land and beautiful panorama.  

There are various activities can be done here, such as trekking, walking and cycling. Visitor can also observe the view of the canyon from Panorama Park.

Bukittinggi Zoo and Fort De Kock, Indonesia

Bukittinggi Zoo is the oldest zoo in Indonesia. It was built by the Dutch in the 1900. It has animals from the eastern of Indonesia as it exchange with Surabaya Zoo. The official name of this zoo is Taman Margasatwa dan Budaya Kinantan. And as its name, it does not only has animals, yet also Minangkabau traditional house where visitors can see the old collections and see the architecture of the house and also take a picture in traditional  costume. 

The zoo is connected by a bridge called Limpapeh Bridge, to Fort de Kock. Fort de Kock was established in the the midst of 19th Century as defense fortress against Minangkabau attact during Paderi war.  Taking the advantage of local conflicts, the Dutch was on the side of Minangkabau aristocrats and suppressed the religious people. As it was built by  Captain Bauer, when Governor Hendrik Merkus Baron de Kock reigned and as well as the Military commander. 

Bung Hatta House, Bukittinggi, Indonesia

Bukittinggi is the hometown of Bung Hatta, Indonesia first vice president and also the father of proclamator of Indonesia. Located at the city street, Jalan Soekarno-Hatta No. 37. 

The house has already been renovated in 1994-1995, as per the original design. The original house was collapsed  in 1960s. The house is made  of wood and bamboo. The room where Bung Hatta was born is located at the second floor on the left. The room when he was young is located at the rear part of the house. It has also the original bicycle of his.  The house was opened to public on August 12th 1995, on the birth day of Bung Hatta. 

Next to Bung Hatta’s room is kitchen with typical, yesterday kitchen, when people still cook using woods and you can also find kitchen utensils. The house has horse carriage garage.

Bung Hatta was one of Indonesia’s delegates in Konferensi Meja Bundar in Den Haag, and he was tge first person to announce Indonesian foreign policy : Freedom and Active, which becomes the base of current policy of Indonesia.

He was born on 12 August 1902 from Mr H Muhammad Djamil and Saleha. He lived in this house from 1902 till 1913. Though he lived relatively short time in this house yet, it shaped his character, especially by the discipline, punctuality, hubmleness and love from his grand father, Haji Marah, who was a freelance post office contractor. 

Bung Hatta studied in elementary school in Bukittinggi, Europese Lagere School (ELS), and then continued to Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs (MULO) and then went to Prins Hendrik School (PHS) in Batavia. He then continued education to Handels Hooge School in Rotterdam from 1921 till 1932. 

He was an activist since he was at school. He established Jong Sumateraned Bond in Padang and Batavia, Perhimpunan Indonesia in Holland and Pendidikan Nasional Indonesia. He was exiled to Digul, Bandaneira and Bangka. 

Visiting this house is not merely seeing the personal life and his career and achievement , yet also see the local architecture. 

Los Lambuang: A must visit for culinary lover, Bukittinggi, Sumatera, Indonesia

Los Lambuang is located at the upper market of Bukittinggi. Los Lambuang derives from the minang, los means alley and lambuang means stomach, so it means the alley to fill stomach. 

It is where you can find Nasi Kapau, local menu from Bukittinggi. The taste is similar to nasi padang. Nasi Kapau consists of many kinds of menus, from chicken, eggs, beef and fish with vegetable and sambal. The menus are arranged on display table that the clients can choose whatever they want with rice and vegetable and sambal. As in Padang restaurant, you you will be provided a bowl of water to wash hands and a glass of water for free. It is a culture to eat with hands here, yet if you want spoon and fork you can ask. 

There are many stalls to pick for Nasi Kapau in Los Lambuang. However there are many other food you can find here, such as soto, Cindua Langkok  and katupek pical. 

 

Aek Natonang Lake: A Lake on A Lake

This 100 hectares lake is located in Samosir Island, this can be called as lake on a lake. Located about 1 hours drive from Tuk Tuk or Tomok, this lake has small number of visitors.

The road is winding and can be foggy, in the morning or noon or afternoon, especially in rainy season. You can rent scooter to get here. For your information, there is no public toilet in the location.

Aek Natonang Lake  is surrounded by forest, and on the edge is grass where bulls grassing. Along the ride to the lake, you will pass scarcely inhabited area, and also  pond to wash bull.

 

Mount Sinabung, the active volcano erupts for long term since 2013 until now (2017)

Mount Sinabung has been long active and endanger people living in the vicinity. Due to its activity, inhabitants of the village must leave their house to evacuation area.

Visiting Berastagi, you can see this volcano erupts ash, almost everyday. This becomes very popular view among travelers. I went closer to the slope of Mt Sinabung, Berastepu village, where the ash can be seen destroyed the plants on the slope and many houses were abandoned because of the volcano. I find it very sad, seeing houses, churches and schools left and damaged.

Until today, villagers are not allowed to return to their house, as Mount Sinabung activity has not back down. Even this August, the activity raised, the volcano erupts 4.5 km ash.

Mt Sinabung had slept for 1,200 years, and then in 2013 it starts active. According to Matteo Lupi and Stephen Miller, the volcano activity might have been triggered by quake in Nias in 2005 and Mentawai Enggano quake in 12 September 2007.

For me it was kind of a bit nervous visiting the Red Zone (Zona Merah) where people may not live. However farmers work  in the red zone in the day time. They plants cabbage and potatoes on the fertile soil.

Mount Sibayak, Berastagi, Karo Regency, North Sumatera

Located in Berastagi, this active volcano is now still safe to climb, unlike its sister, Mt Sinabung, who has been erupting for almost 4 years. Located not very far from Brastagi city, climbing Mt Sibayak can be an option for visitors to see a beautiful view from Mt Sibayak Peak.
Mt Sibayak is 2,094 m, and to reach the peak only take s about 1 hour walk. I think this is very convenient for beginners. I heard there are other climbing trails to the peak which take longer.
As other mountain which is most convenient hiked in the morning before sunrise, i climbed early morning about 04.30 depart from hotel in Brastagi and then drive to foot of Mt Sibayak.
I was not prepared with warm clothing, so i just had two layers top and trousers. After walking about 10 minutes i felt it was not cold anymore. The climb was a little steep in the beginning and then passing tall pandanus plants, afterwards no more steep path.
At the peak, you can hear the loud hiss of from the crater and if you go down to the crater, you can see bubbling hot water. And the view from the ultimate peak is very beautiful. The ridges of nearby peaks, and Mt Sinabung which still active and smolders ash can be seen from here. On the other side the view of Berastagi and nearby village twinkling down there.
Even though the trail is not long, still recommended to have local guide to go with. Do not forget to bring small backpack with water and maybe bread or snack or banana. Comfy shoes will be helpful for the trail.
About 07.00, you will finish climbing and then drive to Sedebuk debuk hot spring located not far from the base camp. I find it perfect to relax after the hike. You can also choose the various temperature of the sulfurous water.

Bukit Lawang: Jungle Trail to visit Orangutan, North Sumatera, Indonesia


Bukit Lawang is located on the other side of Gunung Leuser National Park, about 4-5 hours drive from Medan. However if you are already in Tangkahan, there is a a shortcut , about 2 hours drive from Tangkahan to Bukit Lawang.
Bukit Lawang is famous for its Sumateran Orangutan ( Pongo abelii), one of the endanger mammals living in Gunung Leuser National Park. There was a rehabilitation center for orangutan here which was built for orangutan conservation, where young orangutans were taken care off and trained before released into the wild.
Now visitors can see orangutans in the wild, and must do trekking to the jungle for some hours to few days. I joined 3 hours jungle trail to see orangutan, started nearby Bukit Lawang Ecolodge and then walk uphill passing rubber plantation owned by private , and then proceed to the national park jungle. We met mother orangutan and the baby. They were so graceful climbing trees, and swing from one tree peak to another and hanging on lianas. Their balance and flexibility amazes me.
Before doing the jungle trek, be sure you wear long trousers and sleeves. And recommended to put mosquito repellent. It will be safer if you put the trousers end to the socks. Long sleeves are good to prevent leeches. And do not forget to bring water.
I do not think that feeding the orangutan is necessary, but usually local guides will use fruit to attract orangutan to come closer. Do not play or touch the orangutan.
Seeing orangutan in the jungle is not guaranteed. When there are abundant of food/ fruits in the jungle, usually not easy to find orangutan.
Other animals that visitors can see in the trail are: gibbons, kasuari bird, thomas leaf monkey.
If you love water activity, you can do rafting or river tubing in Bukit Lawang.
Most of the lodges are located nearby the river, my favorite place to eat in the area is Bukit Lawang Ecolodge Restaurant. It is tranquil and overlooking Bohorok River which is used by locals and even tourist to bath and enjoy.

Tangkahan: Elephant Conservation at Gunung Leuser National Park.


Tangkahan is very enticing. It is a village located in Gunung Leuser National Park. Administratively located in Namo Sialang village, Batang Serangan District, Langkat Regency, North Sumatera Province.

It takes about 5-6 hours drive from Medan to Tangkahan. Along the drive, we passed farms, villages, and also large area of Palm Oil Plantation, which has been infamous for its conflict with nature sustainable of Gunung Leuser National Park. I went passing Stabat area, which sometimes i saw some Rumah Panggung (wooden-stilthouses). I find them beautiful and just the right size for a house, not to big, not too small. And often with a vast garden in front of it.

There are two major rivers in Tangkahan, Buluh River and Batang Serangan River. Both are very clean and blueish and source of local community life. They also enjoy relaxing at the river banks which local call as pantai (beach).

The most popular attraction in Tangkahan is Elephant bathing. The elephants are already tame, they were caught after several times raiding farms. And it is said that now the elephants favor illegal logging patrol. And locals who were previously illegal loggers shift their occupations to tourism. Some visitors consider the Elephant activity is an animal exploitation.

Everyday there is two schedule of Elephant bathing, morning at 10.00 at afternoon at 16.00. There are about 9 elephants in this group in this elephant bathing. They walk from the other side of Batang Serangan river and crossing beautifully to towards visitors. Before bathing started, the elephants must defecate first so that when bathing they will not poo in the river that will not cause river dirty. That was what the guide said. Elephants then bathed and visitors can also involve brushing and bathing them. When i said brushing, it means really brushing using brush, which i thought was too too rough for the elephants. But the guide told me that it was okay, as usually elephants swiped their body to a tree which is more rough than the brush. After bathing then visitors can feed elephants, make sure one washes their hands first, in case of lotion of mosquito repellent still applied on hand can make this susceptible animals suffer an illness.

Other activities can be done in Tangkahan is Jungle Trail, where visitors will be taken to see the jungle and if lucky, will be meeting gibbons, siamang, or other wildlife.For this one will need to prepare with mosquito repellent, comfy footwear, clothes which blends to nature, camera, some snack and water, hat, sunscreen and recommended to wear long sleeves and trousers.

And visitors can also explore the rivers, by river tubing. I myself enjoyed the river-tubing. As i went alone, the local guide, Nopa, tied the tubes therefore we could enjoy the tandem river-tubing and have small talk along the tubing while enjoying the view, sometimes we saw grey monkeys and snake on trees on the river bank.

We stopped by at Buluh River and walk to some beaches there. And pay a visit to a waterfall at the bank of river. Not far from the waterfall, located a hot spring. The hot spring is located in the crack of rocks that only 3-4 adults can fit at the same time. This river, hot spring and waterfall locations have visitors on Saturday and Sunday but on weekdays, very quiet.

The big waterfall located in Buluh river were damaged totally by landslide. So i went to two small waterfalls.

All in all, Tangkahan has potentials for tourism and it gives enriching and experience to visitors, whether they look for nature, knowledge, tranquility.

PICTURES : Kertagosa Court of Justice, Klungkung, Bali, Indonesia

If you head to Besakih Temple or East Bali, Kertagosa is worth a visit. This building was  built in the 17th Century.  Initially the building was functioned by some leaders to discuss, however after the advance of Dutch, the building was used as court house.  

At Bale Kambang, a gazebo building has replica of the chairs, the real chairs can still be seen kept in the museum.  The building in the middle of the pool is bigger, and used for king’s event, such as wedding. The roof of both buildings are decorated with paintings, made by local painters and still in good condition. 

The entrance to Kertagosa include: Puputan Museum, Kertagosa, Museum and also trip to weaving and painting village.