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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Padang - Bukit Tinggi Babymoon : Taman Panorama, Lobang Jepang, Ngarai Sianok, Muzium Perjuangan

We stopped one “angkut” nearby the hotel and asked the driver to bring us to Taman Panaroma, where Ngarai Sianok and Lobang Jepang are located. We cramped ourselves with another 4-5 locals in the “angkut” and we had so much fun being swaying left and right in it. My nieces and nephews can’t even stop smiling and laughing quietly, looking at the doorless red vehicle that we were riding in. With Rp1500 each, we reached the Taman Panaroma in 5 minutes.  

This scenic garden is opened daily from 7.30am to 6.30pm with Rp5000 as entrance fee. There were also tour guides (locals) who were roaming around for you to hire with certain charges. Anyhow, we didn’t hire any.
TIPS : If  you want to know more on the local history, you may hire them. Ask for their fee, beforehand. You don’t want to get any surprised charges as they might charge you by hour, instead.

We walked along the roadway where we can see the famous Ngarai Sianok down the valley. Two canyons standing before us, with a river flows in between. The river can be explored by canoe or kayak under an organization called Qurays where the route takes about 3.5 hours in total. Meanwhile, this canyon stretched from Kota Gadang to Anam Suku, and ended at Palupuh, in 15km long, 100m height and 200m width. It was previously known as “karbouwengat” or “kerbau senget” as there were lots of buffalos living freely during Dutch time. From afar, I saw one small village on top of the canyon, with thousand steps leading to it.
It was a breathtaking moment, before a group of monkeys approached us. We quickly took pictures and walked down the Lobang Jepang entrance. 
TIPS : If  you want to get a clearer and panoramic scene of Ngarai Sianok, you may want to visit this place for sunrise or sunset. You may also walk down the steps to enjoy the beauty of this canyon from below. But beware of those monkeys. They are likely to snatch your belongings.

Being pregnant, having an infant and a small kid, and elderly with us, half of us decided to not join the party of hubby and my two niece and nephew. The cave looked so deep and the stairs looked so steep, whomever went down must have lights and hold the railings. Since there were not many visitors at that time, we took the opportunity to pose and capture pictures.
This cave was a bunker built by Japanese army in 1942 for their defense. They kept almost everything down here, which include war-related equipment and storage. It is believed that the cave can go up to 1400m with 2m winding width, with various zone such as maintenance room, immunization, scientific museum, conference room, café, mini theater, detention cell, and etc.
TIPS : If  you want to get a guide, the fee is around Rp20,000. Please seal the deal before you start the journey as some of them might con and charge you RM20 instead (that would be more than Rp20,000 for sure!). You’ll be taken to an exit where you can go out from Taman Panorama, or return back to the earlier entrance.

Even the guide persuaded hubby to hire him to avoid confusion and getting lost, hubby denied the offer. Hubby walked my niece and nephew slowly down the steps and used phone lights as a guide. There were wall lights but it seemed like they were under maintenance, for some of them were still on the cave floor. As they reached one of the exit, it was pretty much to explore this cave without a guide as it was quite straight forward. Overlooking the Ngarai Sianok, one of the exits was installed with steel grille and the only way down was to use the jungle trail.
Meanwhile, we (who remained outside), having our precious time with a statue. Two Japanese army whom holding rifles were standing on top of the official mark, dated 12 November 2004, where this place was officiated and opened to public. I must say that this area is clean and well-kept, clearly both general workers and visitors equally played their part in keeping up this place.
An hour later, we walked out from this place and looked for another “angkut” ride to our next destination. Opposite this place, I saw Muzium Perjuangan, but we had to pass this war museum as we were short of time.
TIPS : If  you want to know more on war history, it is recommended to visit this museum. I myself, love anything to do with past-time story, but travelling with family made me had to choose and chop certain places to visit.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Padang - Bukit Tinggi Babymoon : Royal Denai Hotel, Jam Gadang

We chose this hotel for its location and feedbacks. It is located at Jalan Dr. A. Rivai, centrally located at the Bukittinggi city, 500 meters from Lubang Jepang and 2 km away from Jam Gadang. The deluxe room price was IDR 574000 while superior room was IDR 452000. Both rooms are carpeted with modern minimalist design. The hotel served breakfast for two, which the café is located nearby the swimming pool. There were garden and other facilities too.
TIPS : If you have kids, this hotel is good enough to please them. The room is spacey and they can swim all day and night at the swimming pool. Anyhow, I find it not suitable for elderly. No lift, only walk-up stairs. So please ask for lower ground room. For breakfast, the food are quite tasty and variety. You can choose to eat inside, or outside (by the pool). Be prepared, as the café can be quite stuffy, for some locals do puff cigarettes while eating. And the lobby can be quite noisy, for some companies do held their event at this hotel.

Before we headed to Jam Gadang, we got ourselves refreshed for a while. The weather was quite chill at night, similar to our Cameron Highlands back home. Later that night, we walked to Jam Gadang via the main road. Kak Ngah was as always, without doubt, having a very good sense in direction. We followed her guide, for she saw that huge Jam Gadang before we reached the Royal Denai Hotel. Geographically, this hotel is located behind the hill, so we had to walk upwards along the shoplots heading to the open area.

TIPS : If you plan to have a night walk, do wear light jacket and do bring umbrella or raincoat, just in case. The road to Jam Gadang is quite straight forward, so you won’t get lost in direction. Ask locals if you need guidance. Though it is a walking distance, you may also use "angkut" to move around.

Along the way up, we’ve been eyeing few restaurants and food stalls for dinner. I explained to Kak Ngah what “lesehan” means and what kind of foods they served. Abah and his wife had no issue at all, for they had visited Indonesia before. But Kak Ngah would give a restaurant a try (not “lesehan”), at least, for that night. Just to test her kids’ acceptance.
We finally chose a restaurant called “Nasi Goreng Oke”. They do have both, proper shop and “lesehan” style. Having 2 months baby with us and a pregnant belly, we opted for eating inside. All of us ordered the same thing, fried rice, which clearly what the shop sell (besides soto and soup). The serving came in big portion and thank God, the taste was good! Seriously delicious! And it was cheap!
TIPS : If you have local stomach, you may try local food. Else, think about the rest whom have never been to certain countries. You don’t want them to spoil the whole trip with “cirit and muntah”. Hahaha!

After dinner, we walked towards Jam Gadang and roam around the area. Well, some people might say Jam Gadang is just a clock tower. For us (hubby and I), every places of interest has its own story. As for Jam Gadang, it is one of the two clock towers that mechanically moved, alongside Big Ben in London. And one of the ingredients to build this tower was egg white! No cement, no nails. See? Special kan? Haaaa…
Ok, a bit of local history. Gadang means huge/big, in Minangkabau. This 26 meter multi-tiered-tower has 4 symmetrical sides with four units of 80cm clock made by Benhard Vortmann, and all four were imported from Rotterdam, Netherland. The roof design had changed three times, from sphere-shape with cock facing east on it, to Pagoda-shape, to local design that is Minangkabau-shape.
TIPS : If you are lost, or lost someone, always, always agree to meet at this Jam Gadang. It is indeed, famous as meeting point. However, having symmetrical shape, you have to tell which shop you are facing to.

At the compound, there was a row of horse carts and tricycles, waiting for customers. There were street vendors selling local products too. While my niece and nephew grabbed bundles of key chains and caps, I got myself a fridge magnet, just for standby, in case I couldn’t find it elsewhere.
TIPS : If you plan to go to Pasar Atas and Pasar Bawah, you can skip shopping at Jam Gadang night market. They are plenty of souvenir shops there.

I quickly asked everyone to line up in front of the clock tower for a family photo. I bended on the floor to get a full view of everyone and the clock tower. I then looked into the viewfinder and focus on everyone. Then I saw something pinkish next to Abang Ngah! I put down the camera and saw two costume-characters posing and teasing him! HAHAHA! Where the hell these mascots came from! Hellooooo…
TIPS : If  you want to take picture, look around. These Mask Rider/Gaban/Ksatria Baja Hitam/I dunno lah, will quickly run and enter-frame into your picture (or we say “photobomb” nowadays). THEN, they will ask for money. If you don’t mind paying, go ahead. Else, don’t capture at all.
We smiled and nicely told them off. We continued taking pictures around the area. Few street vendors approached Kak Ngah and asked how old the baby was. Initially, Kak Ngah told them less than 2 months, but after getting few comments from the local that they won’t bring small baby out at night, Kak Ngah changed her statement to more than 2 months. Just to drop any serial questions. Hahaha!

It was almost midnight. We headed back to the hotel and took pictures around the area. While hubby and my dad relaxing at the lobby, listening to some local performance, my niece and nephews were in bed and one of them started to have stomach ache. Oh no...
We then had a short discussion for tomorrow’s plan. Abah’s wife and Kak Ngah had screamed out loud “shoppinggggggg!". *facepalm* We dozed off and woke up the next morning and got ready for breakfast. The foods were quite variety and tasty with local specialty and bit of usual western breakie.
"Ok. Let's catch "angkut" to Lubang Jepang." I told everyone.

"Angkut tu apa Acu?" My nephew asked me what "angkut" is. Hehehe.

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