Sunday, August 17, 2008

In love with Lake Maninjau

Have bike will travel - to see glorious sunsets & more

44 crazy bends - could be fun on the right bicycle!
Lush green ricefields everywhere

Ira's extended family in Maninjau - Latifa, the sweetest little gal!
The spice of life
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We started early at 0730 and drove on meandering country roads carving through rolling hills and emerald green rice fields. Its an easy 38km to Danau Maninjau and the famous 44 hairpin descents came all too soon. It was almost like a step by step introduction to the beauty of the 8 x 17km crater lake. Tempted to take the Carry Me out to cycle down, prudence reminded that small wheels and rough roads are not good companions. Much smaller than Toba, some say Maninjau is more stunning. I concur.
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The first order of the day was to see Ira's "Mak Tua" (Elder Aunt) who is a retired Doctor living in Maninjau. She lives there with her daughter's family in a kampong house. Their hospitality was gentle and warm as per all the Minang people I met. This being a Wed was market day and we headed straight there. Bustling with fresh produce, fish and meat, it was truly a meeting point for the villagers. Mak Tua seemed to know everyone and the respect she received impressed. Her finely horne skill in durian selection saw us having a delicious morning feast. As the ferry across the lake was made obsolete due to the new roads build, we took a delightful drive around Maninjau.

Ira & Mak Tua bonding over shellfish
The plan to do a short hike was scuttled due to the recent spotting of a tiger in the vicinity. It had eaten a cow and we weren't sure if that had been fully digested. We visited a museum of a famous Minang Writer Prof Dr ?. The museum is managed by his distinguished nephew and overlooks the beautiful lake. Lunch was at a park within the Hydro Electric station and I enjoyed a dish of small fried fish with egg, covered with the chillies and spices, among many other fiery dishes.

We took many breaks covering the 70km circumference. Ira visited a brand new mosque for afternoon prayers and we also stopped for a calcium fix. Shell fish boiled in salted vegetable is a "pick me up" for the locals. I regretted not trying as my stomach was still getting accustom to Minang fare.

Maninjau shell-fish for your daily calcium fix!

Hotel Mutiara, a lovely newish hotel at the lake's edge was our abode for the night. The very spritely manager, Renel, welcomed us warmly and gave us a room with a priceless view of the lake and mountains. The golden sunset was absolutely glorious! Dinner at Bagoes Cafe (means very good) proved rewarding with its ambience and delicious rendang. Jack, the friendly owner, also did his rendition of Hotel California on his guitar and that was a fitting "dessert".
Help, I've fallen in love with this enchanting lake! Don't know when I will be able to shake off Maninjau-tis. Sigh...

Crystal clear waters teeming with fish!

1 comment:

Paul said...

Your photos are fantastic! I am an anthropologist and was recently in West Sumatra doing research with some of the communities. I would like to ask you if I could use your photo of the hairpin bend on the way down to Lake Maninjau for an article I am writing. If so, could you please let me know how you would like me to attribute the photograph?