Under Bukittinggi and far above

Bukittinggi had a dark, hidden past under its town. During the war, the Japanese used local Indonesians as slave labour to build underground tunnels where they stored their ammunition. We found the bunkers disturbing, as if a cloud of pain and death still resonated off the stone walls and rushed out.

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Minangkabau territory

The architecture of this region was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Roofs were shaped like pointed buffalo horns. Close by Bukittinggi, we visited the largest house in all of Sumartra where once the king had lived. The huge main room was relatively empty, but the building itself was an architectural masterpiece. Behind was an equally beautiful small building that may have been for servants.

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Bukittinggi and it’s famous mountain

Through jungle, mountains and over a winding road we left Pekanbaru and arrived six hours later in Bukittinggi near Sumatra’s west coast east of Lake Maninjau. Because of the altitude, approaching the Equator was relatively cool. Our Bukittinggi hotel was on a hill, but even higher was Mt Marapi not far away—smoke rising from its summit. This was Sumartra’s most active volcanic peak aptly named Mountain of Fire. The volcano had erupted more than one hundred times and was last active in 2020, but on our visit it merely signalled with a puff of smoke. 

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Stinkin’ Pekanbaru

More than a year after our trek through Java, I handed my daughter an Indonesian guidebook and said she could plan our trip to Sumatra. It was two years since our last Indonesian visit before we flew to Singapore, caught a ferry to Bantam Island in Indonesia, then flew to Pekanbaru—the closest town in Sumatra.

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The remaining delights of Bali

I was glad we stayed in Sanur Beach because it hadn’t reached the tourist fever pitch of Kuta. Our accommodation was right on the beach where we sat sipping coconut water and enjoying the last of our holiday. 

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Bali’s monkey forests

The things we do for children. I’m sorry monkey lovers, these animals do nothing for me, but the thought of going to a monkey forest was a dream come true for my nine-year-old.

We walked through the forest when an Indonesian man ahead screamed before racing into the trees. We weren’t sure what was going on until he returned with a wad of money. Apparently, the monkey whipped the notes out of his shirt pocket. This was just the beginning of what the monkeys of this forest would do. 

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Return to Bali

From Probolinggo, we took a scenic bus ride east, ferried across to Bali and down the coast to Denpasar before we arrived at Sanur Beach after dark—our last stop where we’d stay for ten days. I caught the dreaded Bali belly and while I ran between the bed and the bathroom, my daughter ordered prawn cocktails and swam in the hotel pool. 

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A day in Surabaya

We travelled the hundred kilometres from Probolinggo to Surabaya to check on snail mail. I was hoping from news from my other daughters’ travels in Canada. Stepping out of the post office with our letters, a local student befriended us and convinced us to visit the city’s zoo. I’ve never found zoos appealing, seeing animals confined, but my daughter was keen.

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My travel diary

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