Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bukit Tinggi, Danau Maninjau and how to get friends to be jealous

From the busy of Padang, (where nasi Padang originated) we went into the central mountains towards Bukit Tinggi. Along the way, we detoured into Danau Maninjau. Its a lake in the mountain.
The chair that i'm sitting on is just outside our room and we have a perfect view of the lake. Cool, quiet and breezy.
One of the view. Nice?

Going down to Danau Maninjau, we have to swing through 44 hairpin curves and it's numbered on every curve.
A night in Danau Maninjau really peaced our mind off. The next morning , we shifted to Bukit Tinggi, which is only 90 minutes away. We stayed in Rajawali Homestay with Ulrich, a German Sailor that fell in love with Sumatra when he first visited some 40 years ago. Ulrich organized some out of touristy site tours to the outskirt of Bukit Tinggi. He brought us to local paddy fields and hidden caves.

Ulrich explored the areas around Bukit Tinggi and finds hidden trails. I don't think there are any tours from the commercials that will lead us here.

View of Panarama Park, walking distance from our base. There is also a very deep cave fortress built by the Japanese during World War 2.

We walked around Bukit Tinggi and found a nice neighborhood. Can only be accessed by motorcycles and foot.
The houses are clean and beautifully painted with extraordinary colors and we felt like walking on the street in Europe.

View of the main junction from our hostel.

Central Market.

Tower clock of Bukit Tinggi.

Sharp blade just above my neck for a shaving session. I understand the meaning of 'never argue with your barber'.

It's actually quite cooling in Bukit Tinggi. On every morning, Sam and I would walked to a porridge stall to have our coffee and breakfast. The young lady that was handling the shop is of Chinese ethnicity. She speaks less than 10 words of Mandarine. The way we observed her working in the shop is so special. She is very attentive to every order, treated every customer equally with her best courtesy. To all old and young, to all men and women, to all cars and bikes and to all rich and poor, she gave her fullest attention to her customer. It was a small shop but the service standard she gave was more than a 6 star hotel. Base on her qualification university education, she could have work in the office of big companies but she has other priority in life.

She loves traveling in Asia. She told us that its affordable and there are many rich culture that she could see. When we asked about her busy schedule being in the food industry where she needed to run the business 7 days a week, how would she have the time to travel for few weeks in a year?

She told us that it was a tough job. She needs to start preparing all the ingredients from 3am and the food would be finished around noon time. then she needs to clean up and prepare for next day's operation. On every Ramadan (fasting month on the Islamic calander), there will not be anybody buying food on the street so she will shut her stall and go for her travels.

To us, Singaporeans, working in a small stall selling porridge may seems to be a 'low class' profession. waking up at 3am to many Singaporeans is almost impossible rather, most of us sleep at 3am, especially on week ends. When it comes to class gathering, selling porridge is definately not the most 'ideal' jobs that most Singaporean would be proud of.

Com'on, does it sounds nicer when you tell your classmate: 'i'm working for Temasek Holdings' rather than 'i'm selling porridge'.

I respect this young lady very much because she put in her best in her work and she treated every one with respect and best of all, she made us of the situation in Indonesia, where Ramadan is a big hinderance month to the non-muslims in Indonesia to travel. The places she traveled to are not for shopping or to take pictures to put in facebook to get friends to be jealous of.

Sam and I wanted to invite her to Singapore and she commented something about cost verses experience. Would anyone like to 100% sponsor this young lady to see Singapore? Her name is Maria.

I had found that the motive of travels from many people is to go and take pictures of themselves infront of a famous building or secenery, or holding on to big paper bags from the expensive shopping outlets, put these pictures on the blog or facebook to make friends jealous and tell people:

'i have done it, don't be envy about me, can you do it? this is my lifestyle, i travel a lot to xxx (some branded countries). I fly here and there.'

Is there a meaning to such travels? I am not saying that it is a wrong thing because different people has different ways of de-stressing. Some like to drink a beer, some like to go shopping, some like to smoke, some would go for a motorcycle ride, some would go fishing, some would sleep as long as they could and many many more methods. What i'm trying to say here is that Maria is a very special person we met in Bukit Tinggi and she really deserved a visit to Singapore as she had been to other parts of South East Asia except for Singapore.

Can we, Singaporeans show her how we would like to invite her (as a neighbor).

Stop talking to the world media about how much did Singapore help the Tsunami that happen in Ache.
Stop telling the world on how much money Singapore helped to the XXX countries when they have disaster.
Stop 'gaining points' for the good things that we help our neighboring countries.

It shall not be done because of fame.
It shall not be done because we are a member of an international organization.
It shall not be done because we want to built better relationship to gain benefit.

Helping people shall not be classified into: how much is that person going to return my help.

Sorry, it's a bit out of the topic, lets go back to Maria. Anyone interested to host Maria, please let me know.

I have removed the Cbox on the right of our blog because there are many spammers. Do leave me a message on my comments link.

View of the town from a high bridge.
The Bridge.

Does anyone knows where to get a proper kid's size helmet?

We went to the zoo in Bukit Tinggi. The animals there were fed by visitors with potato chips, mineral water bottles, plastic bags cigarette buds and any other things we can think of. The above is an Orang Utan. The plastic bags are all over his body. I think he is used to it. The moment we walked close to it, he looked at us. The eyes of this Orang Utan tells us that he needs to see Hope Too.

The fierce aligator got frustrated about his life there. I would recon he would find his way out of the zoo someday.
The playground in the zoo reminded me of the 'fun-fair' in Singapore when I was very young.
We would never see this kind of technology again in Singapore. Does this reminded you about your childhood? If it does, you must be not less than 30 years old now.

A stray cat went into the deer's territory. The deer is curious about what a cat is and tries to sniff the cat. the next moment, the cat stretched out his pussy craw towards the nose of the deer and the deer ran away.

Ulrich has made servral GPS maps of Sumatra. These maps are the real maps that he had traveled to and up to date. He has very good knowledge of the area and very informative. The stay with them was really great! We would like to go back to Bukit Tinggi again to stay with Ulrich, to meet Maria and enjoy the place.

We told Ulrich that we are going to ship our motorcycle from Dumai (Sumatra) to Malacca (Malaysia). He told us:

he had met many motorcycle travelers that had shipped their bike into Dumai and had a lot of problem. At this time, we may not be able to get out of Indonesia from Dumai. The road to Dumai is really bad.

Sam and I would still want to try to ship out from Dumai, which is a 2 days bad road riding from Bukit Tinggi. If unsuccessful, we need to return to Bukit Tinggi on the same 2 days bad road and go north to Medan, which is about 7 days riding to ship our bike over to Malaysia.

how bad can the road be?

At this point, I would like to interrupt the Sumatra posting. I really have to mention an issue that happened in Singapore 3 days ago (October 15, 2010).

I had 2 Swiss friends that came to Singapore to visit and travel. They are on budget too. They stayed in backpackers hostel and they need to set priority on what they want to see base on their budget.

They are those that can sit on the back of my dirty truck and tour around Singapore with us.

Sam and I recommended them to the night safari as our night safari:

Is the world’s first wildlife park for nocturnal animals is an eight-time winner of the Best Visitor Attraction Experience, awarded by Singapore Tourism Board. This internationally acclaimed leisure attraction embodies innovation and creativity in products and services, and service quality, thus attracting more than 1.1 million visitors yearly. Over 1,000 animals from 115 species (of which almost 30% are threatened) inhabit the 40-hectare park.

(Extracted form

My Swiss friends would love to see night animals and they went on their own.

Somehow that night, Sam received an SMS from them and we rush down to the night safari to rescue them.

When we reach the night safari at 830pm, it was very crowded. It seems like everyone was going into the night safari to party. It is exactly the same like how party people queue up outside St James or the bar at Clark Quay. Many of them are dress in Halloween dresses and party poppers.

We asked our Swiss friends what happened:

They have to pay S$45 each into the night safari instead of the usual S$22 because it is a Halloween Special night. Refer to

They paid the S$45 each and went in, they could not see any animals because the place was filled with party people (or party animals?) and many visitors just want to go in to get the feel of being ‘attacked’ by the dressed up Halloween costumed staff.

The place was a little messy. Our Swiss friends saw more spooky things than the animals that they want to see. Feeling very disappointed, they got out of the area and went back to the ticketing office and requested for a refund, which was rejected. Along side at the ticketing office, there were some other foreigners hanging around seeking for refund too, feeling disappointed and did not get any refunds back.

Sam and I feel so ashamed, so ashamed that we are adopting our Singapore way into the western festival. Wanting to increase more visitors to the night safari to increase the revenue for night safari by doing the Halloween thingy, we had lost our reputation, turning the authentic night safari into a party place!

Can we have a feedback from the relevant authorities?


Desmond Kong said...

Haha..I noticed 'xiao xiong' in the 3rd photo.
As for Maria,we can help show her around too if she's here.
Piangz!Didnt know they paid S$45.00 for entry into the Night Safari that fateful night!Damn not worth it!
Lastly,thumbs up for your Disclaimer at the bottom of the blog. (",)

Atticus said...

Bukittinggi, Lake Maninjau and the 44 turns, one of the few places mentioned in your blog which I had visited before.

Quite a nice place, especially the weather. :)

singaporedream said...

hello Atticus!

thanks for being there.

Its nice right? not so far from singapore and yet we can enjoy lots of things.!

hows things going on your side?

do we have the honor to meet up with u?

Mumun said...

I enjoyed this post much. I can see how Singaporeans can enjoy Bukittingi and its surroundings, and how it's very different to Singapore. It really is, isn't it? It's great insight. I hope to see you in other parts of Indonesia, too.