Padang Tabing airport

An enforced delay: my plane leaves at 14.40 and not 12.50; I could have been informed about the rescheduling, so why wasn’t I?

The sign at the ‘gateway’ says ‘Selamat Jalan, You Are Now Leaving West Sumatra‘, and this I do with a smidgeon of regret.

Firstly, for a strong Muslim area there is little sense of moral strictures such as is found, as I’ve discovered to my cost at times, in Jakarta. Minang folk are very welcoming and unfailingly courteous. The same old questions that every westerner gets asked umpteen times a day, here are asked with a genuine interest in the answers. I have not once felt suspicious – “How much do they want?

There is far less overt poverty, with concrete replacing the large wooden Dutch houses to be found, for eaxmple in Kota Gadang, the silver jewellery village on the other side of Sianok Canyon which cuts it off from Bukittinggi. The traditional buffalo horned roof styles are to be seen in the traditional houses throughout West Sumatra, and on the government edifices.

What is a pleasure to see are houses with front gardens – for flowers. Dogs are walked on leashes, which may be just as well as these are working wild boar hunting mutts.

In Bukittinggi, there is time to spare. Shops close between 7 & 9 pm, and the whole town seems to go to sleep at 10pm. Yet it isn’t until 9 or 10 in the morning that the market and shops are alert and open. I like the town; its name means ‘Tall Hill’, but it’s easy to walk around and to capture the cultural flavour, much of it heard on cassettes of local music used in dances emanating from the shops.

I shall revisit; there are more treks I want to go on, to Siberut, up a volcano or two, and the lakes within easy reach.

And to once, twice, again eat dadih campur – avocado, fruit salad, oats and buffalo yoghurt.


A photo of my painting of Harau Valley based on a photo I took.

And this is a video I didn’t shoot.


About Jakartass

A Brit Abroad
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