Tuesday, September 15, 2009


25th July 2009

Today would be another interesting ride. There would be 1 fast downhill followed with 1 uphill push and another 1 fast downhill as we make our way from Bukit Tinggi to the lower altitude of Danau Maninjau. In between would be rolling hills through several villages.

The drizzle yesterday was gone. It was a great day for cycling. Today's destination Danau Maninjau, is a short distance of 32kms from Bukit Tinggi.

The altitudes recorded on my Polar (below) shows the terrain we would cover over the 30 odd kms. The sharp drop at almost the end of the journey is the winding downhill of Kelok 44. Kelok 44 is the famous 44 sharp downhill corners from 1060m above sea level to 422m when where Danau Maninjau is.

Elly Kassim, the famous Indonesian singer of yesteryears has a song penned for Kelok 44.

Bidding farewell to Hotel Bagindo, we pushed off heading towards Lubang Jepang for Ngiarah Sianok (Ngiarah Canyon) where we would have our first downhill. It would be a mini version of Kelok 44. The village we passed before the descent was already alive with parents sending their kids to school. Traffic was just slowly building up. We had our hands constantly on the brakes to slow down the speed as some parts of the road was wet, always careful not to jam the brakes to avoid skidding. The canyon whizzed past rather quickly and in no time we were down to the bottom of the canyon. Had a quick stop for a photo shoot on a bridge before we moved on.

Selamat jalan Bukit Tinggi. Sampe ketemu lagi.

From the valley, it was a steep climb of 3kms. So, we did what was sensible to do - push the bikes up the slope.

And after the push, the poor bike needs the rest. Ha...ha

Continuing on, we passed several more villages along the route. I recalled passing Kampong Pisang. It is obvious what the main crop here is, except that in the early morning, no one was enterprising enough to open a stall yet. We continued on the rolling hills and just 6kms after Bukti Tinggi, we climbed back to 935m.

We passed a milestone indicating we were 11kms from Maninjau. Padang was a cool 151kms away. We would reach Padang 2 days later.

I came across this man washing clothes by a pond. The pond was fed by running water but the water was murky. Just wondering whether he would have a good wash. Also wondering where was his wife to do the washing?

The much anticipated Kelok 44 finally came to view. We were at 1057m, higher than Bukit Tinggi. There was fair warning to drivers at the beginning of the descent. First on its list was to give priority to the oncoming (climbing) vehicle. Second notice was to horn at every corner (bunyikan klakson setiap tikungan). Waduh Pak, speda saya ngak ada klakson. Kalau gitu, guna aja klakson asli.....

Muhamud caught me making taking some notes on my journal before the descent.

The journey downhill starts at Kelok 44, hence its name. Danau Maninjau came into view the moment one starts the downhill. We did not immediately start the descent though. We first stopped at a warong for a bottle of coke each and some local delicacies. We were in no hurry, after all we were going downhill. On downhills speed can reach 60kms/hour if we dared. On tight corners, it was crazy to attempt it. I have reached such speed on my racing bike doing the Ulu Langat route.
We stayed at the warong for sometimes. We were absorbing the panaromic view of Danau Maninjau down below. There were occasional cool breeze passing through the warong. This cool peaceful feeling glued us longer to our seats. Just enjoying this moment was bliss. I could sit here for hours and write my thoughts.

Reluctantly, we bade goodbye to the friendly owner and his wife and started our roll down. Corner after corner we took, hands firmly on the brakes and eyes ever watchful for on coming vehicles. Every corner is numbered and as the number drops, so does the altitude.

And within the confines of the narrow strips of land in between the corners, padi was ripening. This is one industrous aspect I noticed of the Indonesians. Land is usually maximised for cultivation.

And Danau Maninjau welcomed us at almost every corner.

Villages dotted the slopes and at one corner, these kids caught my attention. Initially, they were shy to be photographed but the parents gently urged them on to pose. And when you show them their pics on the camera screen, they laughed. Simple joys. They braved a wave at us as we started pedalling and we waved back.

At one section, I told Mahmud to go ahead while I took position to capture him negotiating a corner. It was a wrong corner to choose. There was diesel on the road. No sooner after I captured this shot, he was sprawled on the road. I was too surprised (and worried) and did not capture another shot of him sprawled on the ground. Otherwise it would have been a great shot to blackmail him in future. Ha..ha. Anyway the brotherly concern was too spontaneous. Lucky there were no vehicles following him. Just a minor scratch.
Soon we were at the foothill and heading for the Hotel Tan Dirih by the lake which I stayed in on my earlier trip.

We were unlucky. It was fully booked. We cycled further up and decided to stay at Hotel Pasir Panjang Permai. This is a bigger hotel, and with size comes the price - IR230,000 a night for a lake-view room. Tan Dirih was IR175,000. Either hotel, we had these views by the balcony.

Danau Maninjau is smaller in comparison to Danau Singkarak. Both are volcanic craters, filled with water fed from various streams in the mountain. It is 8kms at its widest and 16kms in its length.

Later, we had a slow lunch. I do not mean we took our time to eat. The food took its time to arrive! However the view cooled our patience and we could still gave a smile when the food finally arrived.

Next on our must visit was Bapak Hamka's musuem, about 8 kms from the hotel. We cycled there but the weather was threatening. We managed to find a shelter at a warong and waited out the rain, a good 45mins of heavy rain.

So Muhamud got to visit Bapak Hamka's residence-cum-muzuem and I was hoping to meet the caretaker I met on my earlier visit. I was disappointed. Anyway, the write-up on the muzuem can be read from my earlier blog.

We cycled back to the hotel in the drizzle with a great reminder that this world is for us to plant for harvest in the world after.

Hotel : Pasir Panjang Permai
Rate : IR230,000
Ride Dist : 32km
Avg Temp : 26 degrees C


oops did I just say that? said...

bah so nicee lah the view..anyway, dont think u should be doing any indo cyling trips anytime soon! dangerous lorr..kecuali lowh bisa ngomong bahasa indonesia!!

ARZ said...

Yes Mimi, the Bukit Tinggi - Danau Maninjau route is one of my favorite routes.

This trip anyway is my last trip for 2009.Early next year I may do Lake Toba via Medan. Enough time to sharpen my Indon slang kut

Al-Manar said...

Some of the scenes remind me of those I used see in Sabah way back in 1965-69,the 'confrontasi' years. Driving along the narrow winding roads from JESSELTON (do you know where that wss?)to places like Kota Belud, Ranau,Beufort etc with Kinabalu peak in the background.

ARZ said...

Pak Chik,
Would Jesselton be Sandakan today? Back in the 60's, traversing the roads must be an adventure of sort. Can imagine AK Hassan, a young executive then, working and exploring the interiors of Sabah.

Even today, places like Kota Belud and Ranau conjure images of remoteness though it is not necessary so now.

I passed through Kota Belud in Mar 2006 on my TransBorneo ride and passed through some hilly terain. Must be real tough those days.

Al-Manar said...

Tak luluslah geography! Jawabnya, Kota Kibalu. Dulu dulu, masa Pakcik disana orang kampong lebih suka panggil 'Api Api' kerana itu nama pilihan mereka. Kita dari KL panggil Jesselton, sekarang KK.Mana ada lagi Telok Anson dan Port Swettenhem?

ARZ said...

Pak Chik,
Actually after I hit the "publish your comment" button baru teringat that Jesselton was KK then.

Finger faster than brain sometimes!!

On the same note, there is no more Port Weld too. I believe the first railway in Malaysia was at Port Weld.

May failed Geography, but passed history..ha..ha