After the long journey all the way from North Sumatra we finally arrive in West Sumatra, the beautiful highlands of the Minangkabau people. This is a unique society as the matrilineal system and heritage goes via the wife. It is the husband who has to follow the wife and her family. It is even more interesting if we consider the fact that the Minangkabau people follow Islam, a religion considered to be dominated by men.
Before we enter the beautiful city of Bukittinggi, we pass by the small village of Palupu. In the jungle near this village we can see the Rafflesia, the largest flower on earth. Depending of the location where the flower grows, which changes several times a year, you have to walk approximately one hour through the jungle to reach the location of the flower.
The centre of the Minangkabau highlands is Bukittinggi, formerly known as Fort de Kock. From this pleasant cool mountain city, people can make excursions through the region like to the Harau nature reserve, the Minangkabau palace in Pagaruyung, and to lake Singkarak. In the 1920s the Dutch built a fine clock tower in town, called the Bukittinggi Big Ben, which is still a landmark in the city. Another peculiarity of Bukittinggi is the Sado, (dos a dos or back to back) a small horse carriage and very practical mode of transportation in town. Located besides Bukittinggi is Pandai Sikat village, famous for its handicrafts, woodcarvings, and weaving industry.
The city is located besides a deep canyon, the Ngarai Sianok or ‘Karbouwengat’. During the Japanese time between 1943 and 1945 an underground tunnel network was constructed by forced Indonesian labourers. These tunnels are open for visitors.
If we cross the impressive Ngarai Sianok we enter the picturesque village of Kota Gadang. As in Bukittinggi was the first secondary school of West Sumatra many of the Sumatrans leading intellectuals came from this city. Some of them lived in Kota Gadang like Sutan Sjahrir, the first prime minister after independence and Agus Salim, former minister of foreign affairs. Kota Gadang still breathes the atmosphere of the bygone days, having many authentic cultural houses. Another attraction in the village is their silver handcraft productions.
Only a few hours drive from Kota Gadang is the mystical Lake Maninjau. This lake is located in a valley surrounded by high mountains. To arrive at the lake you have to descend via the road with the 44 curves from which you have beautiful views all the way over the lake. The author Madelon Szekely Lulofs lived during her youth on the shores of Lake Maninjau. Later she remembered these years at the lake as her childhood paradise.
If you are in mood for a Sumatran adventure, Tri Jaya Tour and Travel has the best packages available for you. Your Sumatra tour is made even more special by their cultural and architectural tours. They introduce you to everything that’s worth knowing about the local culture and history. The capable Indonesian crew, working under Diana Pardamean and her husband the Dutch historian Dirk A. Buiskool, develops all kinds of special programs through unspoiled Sumatra, to create an unforgettable experience for the tourists.