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.
I shook off the oppressive feeling and hiked across Sianok Canyon to climb steps up the opposite slope that never seemed to end. When we reached the top, the valley stretched out below, but the journey wasn’t over. My daughter bounced ahead with all the enthusiasm I lacked. Past a mosque in a uniquely Indonesian style, were rice paddy fields. Our guide pointed towards some trees in the distance and promised there’d be elusive giant bats.
My daughter was satisfied once she spotted the bats, so we returned to the friendly town relishing our final moments because the following day lay a fourteen-hour bus ride.