Wednesday, July 31, 2013

West Sumatra, Indonesia

Sumatra was an adventure I could not forget. This was my first trip to Indonesia back in 2010. I was in a midst of losing my work permit in Singapore so I gave myself a 5 day trip to the western part of one of the biggest islands in Indonesia. I tagged along with my very good Indonesian friend Naga and met two other friends and locals of the city of Medan. The city is a bustling area of cars, pollution, trains and markets alive with throngs of people getting their own business day by day which makes me think of Manila in the early 90s except with the tons of motorbikes streaming around the main roads and pedestrians like they are the kings of traffic. But it is not the city we came for, we were gearing for meeting up with the elephants that lies within the deep forest in the rural town of Tangkahan. It was my first to see, touch, ride and watch as they poop their way out in the river as part of their morning rituals. The elephants in this town are well taken care of. Well it was my first time seeing them in their natural habitat so I guess this is what normal looks like. The best thing about the place is that very few people come to see this place and the presence of Caucasians is very minimal. The odd thing on this trip is that I never thought I will meet fellow Filipinos who are also on their vacation from working in Medan.

We also went to Samosir Island. It is located within Lake Toba and is considered the biggest lake in Indonesia. The lake is situated high above the mountains and it was a great feeling to be in cold weather. I really like the place although the local history is bit scary if you were living there back then. Talk about cannibalism and Dutch invasion. But behind these things, Lake Toba and Samosir Island probably has the greatest view of an island and lake combined. (and when I say this, I am only comparing it to Taal Lake in the Philippines as this is my only comparison as of today).

Around that area, we also visited Air Terjun Sipiso piso or Sipiso piso Waterfalls. This by far the highest and most scenic waterfall I have ever seen so far.

Another town not to be missed is Berastagi. Although we only passed by this place. It reminded me of Baguio City, Philippines probably in the 90s as well. Baguio is now overdeveloped and over populated but Berastagi, from what I have seen, is a cool place with a little overcrowding during the holiday season. But they are also famous for vegetation and fruits which is the same as Baguio City.

If you will notice I keep on comparing Indonesia to the Philippines. Probably because we are actually the same except for three major differences, the language, the religion and the rise of the middle class.

Medan, Lake Toba and Tangkahan, West Sumatra, Indonesia
February 2011

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