Sunday, September 6, 2009


We woke up to a cool fresh morning, quiet and serene. We were eager and ready to move early. I usually pay for the room at the time of checking in. This allows the flexibility of leaving early and avoid the need to disturb the hotel staff still in deep slumber.

Today would be the same. We would leave early and would take breakfast along the way. A quick photoshoot, and off we go.

The first part of the journey would be along the lake edges until we reached Ombilin, roughly 18kms away. At Ombilin, we would turn right, heading for Batu Sangkar. The ride to Batu Sangkar would be that of rolling hills until we reached a peak of 500 metres above sea level, then it would be downhill to Batu Sangkar. From Batu Sangkar, a good 30kms of uphill awaits us to reach Baso. Baso is only 7kms to Bukit Tinggi. Bukit Tinggi stood at 900 metres above sea level.

We passed the restaurant where we had dinner the night before. The lake stood still and calm. A gentle breeze brushed our face. Moments like this, I feel I could just cycle on and on and on. A lone boat at the lake's edge captured Muhamud's attention.

Cycling along the lake's edge in this early morning was just pure exhilaration. On a Sunday, there was very little traffic along the road. Again, we could just cycle on and on.

We found several mosques dotting the lake's edge - indeed very ideal for "iktikaf" and to find solace in prayer.

Some distance after, a lone boat by the lake's edge broke the vast emptiness of the lake. The man was up early for his first catch of ikan bilih. He continued his chores of untangling the net, oblivous to two cyclists capturing his activity.

We found a restaurant by the lake's edge, opened for breakfast. The ambience was just right. Unfortunately the breakfast menu did not do justice to the ambience. Maggi mee was what was available. The lady owner sat down for a short chat, proudly showing her Minangkabau roots in the picture on the wall. We had no Minangkabau roots to share. We just told her we were Malaysians, here on a cycling holiday. It would be too much fantasy to tell her our descendants originated from Yunan, came down through the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand, on to Pattani and settled in Kelantan!

Just as we were leaving, Muhamud realized that his rear tyre had another flat. Just his luck, 2 flats in 3 days.

Muhamud became an expert tyre mechanic very quickly. His pumping skills also improved many folds over. I became an expert "flat-tyre" photographer. Ha...ha...

Tube replaced, it was not long before we arrived the small kampong of Ombilin from where we would branched off to Batu Sangkar.

The morning market at Ombilin was busy, just like any pasar pagi. Here, we noticed loads of hunters with their rifles and their hunting dogs. They were either in fully loaded vans or in pairs on motorbikes. There were a lot of excitement in the air. This was the hunting season for wild boars. This is an annual affair and judging from the number of hunters, the wild boars should have been extinct long time ago. Regretfully, we did not take any shot of these hunters with their rifles and hunting dogs, some of them in cowboy hats!
Exiting Ombilin, the road began to climb. The coolness of the lake was gone. The heart quickly adjusted to the task ahead, the body perspired quickly. In between huffing and puffing, I just have to snap this commercial signboard. The services provided was way out of this world. The commercial advertised services for both tailoring ladies clothes and repair of air rifles! You go and figure that out.

Passing through several villages, we were greeted by golden brown landscapes of padi in harvest - the hopes of the villagers here.

A kindergarten girl giving a pose to me distracted me momentarily from the landscape. She was so cute and was not shy to be photographed. I wished I had my telephoto to crop a potrait of her.

We arrived Batu Sangkar about 10am, bought 2 spare tubes and proceeded on to Pagaruyung to visit the Minangkabau palaces. Pagaruyung is about 5 kms from Batu Sangkar and this would be my second visit here. So I had Muhamud to pose for a shot in front of the first Minangkabau house we came across. This one seemed deserted.

Then we proceeded to the second one, Istana Silindung Bulan where a caretaker was around and helped visitors with some information.

From Wikipedia, I reproduce below information about theMinangkabau house or Rumah Gadang

'Rumah gadang (Minangkabau language: 'big house') are the traditional homes (Indonesian: 'rumah adat) of the Minangkabau. The architecture, construction, internal and external decoration, and the functions of the house reflect the culture and values of the Minangkabau. A rumah gadang serves as a residence, a hall for family meetings, and for ceremonial activities. With the Minangkabau society being matrilineal, the rumah gadang is owned by the women of the family who live there - ownership is passed from mother to daughter.

The houses have dramatic curved roof structure with multi-tired, upswept gables. Shuttered windows are built into walls incised with profuse painted floral carvings. The term rumah gadang usually refers to the larger communal homes, however, smaller single residences share many of its architectural elements.

Entering this palace, I caught Muhamud intensely checking the family tree. Was he hoping to find his roots here? If he did find, then I am automically one of them too!!! Forget it la brudder. Please remember our ancestors are from the Yunan Province (I think).

In my earlier blog, I had posted this colorful interior of the palace. The vibrant color perhaps reflect the colorful lifestyle of the royalties of Minangkabau in those days.

The intricacies of the carvings reflected the pride of their work of art in the Minangkabau culture.

And they have 2-wheelers too in those days, purely run on human power.

By the time we backtracked to Batu Sangkar, we were ready for lunch. We were just too lazy to scout around the town for a restaurant. Not finding one along the route we took, we decided to proceed on towards Baso, 30kms ahead. The sun was high up and the road was slowly but surely inclining up. We found a small warong for lunch and almost regretted our decision to stop here. However, worried that there might not be another one too soon, we had to eat there, which we did, rather very quickly.

There were actually 2 other restaurants a few kilometres away, bigger and cleaner. Just our luck. After another 5kms of gradual uphill, we decided to do another ride on a bus. On my first trip, I did the same.

It took about 20 mins of waiting before a rickety bus slowed down. Up went the 2 bikes on the roof and up we hauled ourself in the front seat together with the driver. Since the bus was going to Bukit Tinggi, we decided to complete the rest of the journey in it. Very convenient, very lazy!

We chatted the driver up who was also very chatty. His bus plied Batu Sangkar to Bukit Tinggi daily and he could do 2 trips a day. That's not very often considering the distance between these two places is about 40kms one way.

So we arrived Bkt Tinggi in good time. The trip cost IR25,000. I gave IR30,000 and told the driver to keep the change. What a great feeling, tipping 5,000 and not feeling a dent in your pocket.

We made our way to Hotel Bagindo, the hotel I stayed on my previous trip. This time, we opted for what the hotel classified as VIP Suite - IR250,000 (RM70) a night. We would be here for 2 nights.

Fully rested we made our way to Pasar Atas. Dont be mislead to think that Pasar Atas is an "upmarket" establishment. It is the usual pasar malam. Muhamud bought some souvenirs. I bought a javanese loose pants. The lady at the stall told me "sepuluh ringgit", momentarily suprising me. She must have received busloads of Malaysian before, after all Bukit Tinggi is popular with Malaysian tourists.

As we moved out of Pasar Atas, our ears were intently listening to a beautiful Minang instrumental number from a CD shop. With the haunting flute sound echoing in the loudspeaker, the stall owner knew he had captured us. We ended up with 5 CD's and a pose at the shop.

Tomorrow is R&R day and we were looking forward to our sumptous Nasi Padang dinner tonight at the famous chain restaurant Restoran Sederhana, ideally located besides our hotel. Nothing 'sederhana' about the restaurant --- BSM (Bersih, Sedap, Murah)


Hotel : Bagindo

Rate : IR250,000

Ride Distance : 48kms (excluding bus ride approx 35kms)


oops did I just say that? said...

Bah, are you sure that our forefathers came from Yunan????? I highly doubt it..But considering how "fair" my skin and big my eyes are.......hmmmm :D

ARZ said...

Err...what about the wavy hair??? Not from the hinterland of Malaysia I hope...ha...ha...

cakapaje said...

Salam bro,

Foremost, apologies for not greeting you on Ramadhan al-Mubarak; I have not been online long enough to visit any friends at all. Then...

Wow! You travel - cycling - even during Ramadhan? Tabik spring!

Al-Manar said...


It is the peace and tranquility of the whole region that get into me. I suppose being a seasoned warga mas I value these more than anything else.

ARZ said...

Sdr Cakapaje.

Lest I be misunderstood, this travelblog is reported history, i.e. if one can consider an event happening in late July this year as history.

I usually carry a small journal on my cycling trips and later back home, I will upload it to my blog.

So my friend, this trip was not done during the fasting month. Ramadzan is after all a much bigger journey.


ARZ said...

Indeed Pakcik, even at "my" wargamas age, I too place peace and tranquility very high on the list.
Alhamdulillah, on my cycling tours, more so on solo journeys, I appreciated it much more.

Your abode in Batu Rakit offers that. We in the city often struggles to get peace & tranquility.

Dancing Ciken said...

mana gambar nasi padang kat restoran sederhana? sorry la, i pantang kalau orang sebut/tunjuk makanan. mesti nak aje

oops did I just say that? said...

bah y u stuck at day 3 only wan?? faster laaa..after no kuala gula for you!

ARZ said...

Hello "anak ayam berjoget",
We were so engrossed with the nasi Padang @ Restoran Sederhana sampai lupa nak ambil gambar. Sorry bro

ARZ said...

Hello Ms Oops,
Day 4 arriving by express train via Sugar Kuala

Ardy said...

I believe we all come from the same place, the North; once a close friend sent a picture she took "in a village just outside Beijing", she said the design/sculpture of the window reminded her of my mother's house in kotogadang, I think that's proof of origin (not very scientific though, ha ha). North it must be, but not Russia.

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