Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shades of Death Road (Weird NJ Readers will get it)

Day 284
I woke up extra early to wash some of my clothes and because I had to wander a bit for breakfast. The plan was to go to one of the Western backpacker places, but they were all closed. Instead I ended up at a Chinese place getting chicken portage at the waitress's suggestion. It doesn't sound like breakfast all all, but it was really very good.

Eddy met me at my hotel, it was just about 20 feet from his shop anyway. I felt more confident about getting on the bike this morning, but it didn't take long before my body began to ache again.

The first place we stopped at was a gorge just out of town. It was beautiful, but there was garbage everywhere, it really bothered me. Garbage is really an unfortunate theme for the day. Indonesians seem to have no concept of using a garbage bin.

After getting up a really steep hill we took a break at a scenic overlook. The next stop was lake Maninjau. Eddy said that this was no normal crater lake and that it was the most beautiful in Sumatra. I will have to take his word for it as my stupid foot prevented me from visiting Lake Toba as I had planned. A long time ago there was a family with 10 children, 9 boys and 1 girl. The parents died leaving them to fend for themselves. As the ancient Indonesians had a matriarchal society it was very important for the brothers to protect their one sister to pass on the family history. Their sister grew to be very beautiful and had many suitors. One of the suitors that she did not care for was very persistent. When she rejected him he spread really nasty rumors about her. The towns people wanted her family to leave. She said that she would prove her innocences by jumping off the top of the mountain, if nothing happened she was guilty, if something did happen she would be proved innocent. Her brothers knew that this would kill her but she insisted and they all insisted on following her. When they jumped the ground caved in and the lake was formed. I told you it wasn't a normal crater lake!

After a few more look out points we stopped by a brown sugar plantation. It was pretty interesting to see how it was made. I got to taste some to, it was teeth rottingly sweet.

The next stop was to go down to Lake Maninjau. To get there you have to take a super curvy road with 44 intense bends. Well, those are only the bends that get counted. There are lots of others, just not so curvy. Eddy stopped for me to take pictures along the way. The road was laced with rice patties and some monkeys in bits of jungle.

At lunch we took a nice long break which was good because I was exhausted and really achy. I had a massive fruit platter for lunch and that helped me get back some energy. The bill for both of us to have lunch was less than $2 and I paid again. The restaurant was right on the lake and really pretty.

When lunch was over we headed back up the windy road. It was a bit more scary this time because I thought I might fall off the back of the bike, but this never even came close to happening. not quite half way up we stopped to feed the monkeys some peanuts that I had picked up earlier. Well, Eddy fed the monkeys and I took pictures. The monkeys were rather lazy and if they missed the peanut when it was thrown to them they refused to go and look for it. A minute or two later I would hear some other monkeys fighting over it. One of the monkeys was missing an arm, but he was such a good catch that I didn't notice it until we were about to leave. The monkeys seemed just as scared of us as I was of them and kept their distance.

After driving through some more rice field we went looking for some bats. Apparently someone had been hunting in the area earlier and had scared them all away. Instead I got to see some of the end bit of the rice making process. Everything was very friendly and offered to let me help. I declined and just took a couple of photos.

We weren't far from Bukittinggi and lucked out by just missing the rain. I thanked Eddy as I paid him the last of what I owed him plus a tip. There had been some communication issues but he was a really fabulous guide. He was very friendly and seemed to really just want to make sure that I had a good time. Plus, he pulled over whenever I wanted to take a photo and I wanted lots! If anyone is reading this and planning to come to Indonesia I can pass on his information to you.

Once I had rested a bit and waited for the rain to pass I headed to a street side food stall. I finally had some proper and very cheap nasi goring, the national dish. I then spent a couple of painful hours on the internet.

As I hobbled back to my hotel people yelled out "Obama" to me. I had met a lot of people here but I don't think that I had met most of these people. I guess word had gotten around in this small town that I was here. I kinda stand out a bit in Indonesia. Back at my hotel I read a book about a time traveling Danish prostitute before falling asleep.

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