|The miss mashed streets of Bukittinggi, West Sumatra|
|The towns clock tower|
We stayed at the Orchid Hotel purely because it was one of the only hotels listed in the lonely planet guide. If you come here looking for hostels your going to be disappointed as there aren't any. The digs at the Orchid were cheap and basic but the staff were helpful, friendly and offered great advice. They even agreed to let us change rooms after we discovered our first room was infested with a backpackers worst nightmare "BED BUGS". The staff even went as far as to remove and incinerate the mattress which is a first for us in Asia. The guys at Orchid are well known in town not just for the accommodation but the tours on offer as well. Roni Putra runs "Ronis Tours" from the hotel lobby who offer trips around the region ranging from treks, motorbike tours and snorkeling trips at real cheap prices.
|Baloo's compound is the BARE NECESSITIES|
|Not really a Disney story for little Dumbo|
|Japanese tunnels under Panoramic Park|
|Amazing sunset skies near Panoramic Park|
This amazing feat of engineering contains living quarters, ammo stores, kitchen and tactical headquarters. A great escape from the intense heat of the day and a reminder of just how far the Japanese Empire stretched.
|Sianok Canyon from Panoramic Park|
|A slightly cloudy view of Lake Maninjau|
|Mr Roni and Jono on an unusually quiet stretch of road|
Despite enjoying a great scooter trip in Laos a few months ago we decided that we would travel as passengers this time to get the most out of the day. Mr Roni opted to guide us himself with a colleague and as he grew up on the shores of the lake he was the perfect human encyclopedia. We certainly saw much more than we would have on our own with stops at the home of a family who make brown sugar for a living (not the kind the Rolling Stones sing about) and a village famous for precious rocks and silversmiths. The brown sugar production was particularly interesting and this sweet commodity is an important ingredient in many locals dishes or a tasty snack on its own. Although after two helpings you may contract diabetes.
|A landscape very reminiscent of Vietnam|
|Bruvs with Beards......well kind of|
Despite the initial confusion and despair Bukittinggi was an important pit stop in Sumatra. It confirmed the reason why we made such an effort to get here in the first place. It wasn't because we had to for transit reasons, it was due to the rumours regarding the outstanding natural beauty and isolation from the well trodden tourist trail. as it turned a potential bad experience of a country into a good one although maybe I speak too soon as we prepare for a huge jump to the capital of Java, Jakarta.
|One last look from Sianok Canyon|
Hendrik Merkus de Kock