Lake Maninjau

Lake Maninjau

After one night in Bukittinggi we mustered up the energy to push on to Lake Maninjau, in West Sumatra, for some much-needed r ‘n r. After hauling our packs over rice paddies and busy country roads we eventually found a place with some vacancy, and our own lakeside hut. The place we ended up was called Lili’s. Vacancy was hard to come by because many locals were there celebrating the new year, along with some volunteers from nearby (which Mark will explain in the next post).

Hard at work

Maninjau definitely feels a long way from home. Outside our door were fishermen in dugout canoes stringing nets, water buffalo, rice farm workers in their rice paddy hats, a trained monkey harvesting coconuts, and a plethora of tropical plants, insects, birds and, oh yeah, durian. Inside our hut were ants and geckos. At first we weren’t sure what to do with the geckos so Mark tried to sweep them off the ceiling. Then we were told that they were good luck and would eat the ants, so we became friends. In and around the lake are many fish farms. The larger fish go in the lake, the babies are grown in little ponds in the rice paddies nearby. The harvesting of the fish was fascinating to watch. A big truck with half a dozen workers fill up clear plastic bags with 80% fish, 20% water. Then they add some pressurized air to the bag, tie it up and roll it into the truck for delivery. I have no idea what type of fish they were. I tried to ask but communication was tricky. Some of them looked like gold fish. On Sundays, the boys go out to hunt wild pigs. They get into the rice paddies and destroy property, so the solution is to kill them. Indonesians in this area are mostly Muslim, so they don’t actually eat the pigs. They let the dogs at them and then bury the rest. Too bad — I’m pretty sure Mark could have gone for some bacon. The food has started becoming a bit repetitive here. It’s delicious but lots of frying and MSG involved. The banana pancakes are my favourite. These might just be an invention for the tourists, but I don’t care, they’re delicious, and they’re not like the pancakes back home. They’re like thick crepes folded over some fresh banana in coconut milk with cinnamon. Cynthia, the cook at the hut we were staying at first used fresh cinnamon carved from the bark of a cinnamon tree right in front of us. It was the most divine-smelling tree ever.

How fast is my helmet?

After celebrating New Year’s Eve, we moved down the lake to the Beach Inn. We rented a scooter for a day of exploring the lake. How much fun are scooters! It’s kinda scary to be on the back, but the roads around Lake Maninjau are nice and quiet, and we kept our speed in check. It was interesting to see that there was quite a bit of earthquake damage to the buildings across the lake from were we were staying.There had been two big earthquakes nearby back in September, and they caused some damage and also a few landslides, one of which was still blocking the road. The people we passed on our ride were so friendly. Friendly to the point of exhaustion actually. Every person we see shouts out ‘hello mister’ (even if they’re talking to me) as we walk past. Some children like to yell out ‘boulay boulay’ which is their word for ‘whitey’. We stopped at a lakeside gazebo for coconuts with some local workers, and had a great time trying to communicate half in English and half in Indonesian.

We spent two nights at the Beach Inn, and made some new friends there as well. It was there that the next leg of our adventure was set in motion…


    Happy New Year boulay boulay!

  1. Mother Goose

  2. So interesting you two very boulay boulay sweethearts. I’m so happy to have read this blog, knowing how your adventure has calmed down since your ferry ride and crazy drive across Sumatra. Stay safe and happy…

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