Thursday, April 24, 2008

ENCHANTING MINANG EARTH

Bukit Tinggi , a scenic hill town in the Western Province of Sumatera (Sumatera Barat or SUMBAR) is a 2 hrs drive away north to Padang, the capital city of SUMBAR. It is one of the many Sumateran tourist attractions and our decision to spend a 5 days 4 nights holiday was well worth. With moderate traffic flow and a population with laid-back pace, the cool and quaint Minangkabau town exudes charming warmth that embraces you the instant you enter it.

The place we stayed


Mid way to Bukit Tinggi, is a small town called Padang Panjang, a popular stop to delight your palate with the local Minang dishes, visit a ‘rumah gadang’ which is a minang house converted into a museum and also shop for embroidered telekung and head scarves. The ‘rumah gadang’ is a truly unique building with distinctive roofing architecture that resembles the bullock’s horns. In a way, it’s similar to a long house with a row of rooms and a large hall.

Rumah gadang

At both ends of the large hall are extended areas with graduated platforms, almost like a balcony. This is where they hold family discussions with the family head sitting top most.
According to Minang tradition, once a son reaches age 10, he has to leave the house and pursue Islamic studies either in a mosque or a madrassah. Thus the rooms are mainly occupied by daughters, each to a room. The family head occupies the right most room with his wife and children less than 10 yrs of age. Once a daughter is married she can occupy a room with her spouse and as more gets married, they shift rooms from left to right, till they reach the last available room which signals for them to leave the rumah gadang.

The Minang tradition are divided into 2, the pepateh or the temenggong. Those observing adat pepateh, give priority to the female family members when it comes to family inheritance. However they defend this rather ‘outlandish’ tradition by pointing out that it only involves main family loom like the rumah gadang and that sons are always being taken of and other family assets like paddy fields can be mortgaged for the expenditure for a son’s education etc. Also, as opposed to adat temenggong, the female members have strong hold in decision making. In the patriarchal adat temenggong, the family head has veto power and female ideas need not be sought. Inheritance is divided following the fara’id method.

If you’re interested in historical land-marks, then Bukit Tinggi can provide you with endless sites to visit and study. Smacked right in the centre is the jam gadang, the town clock. Opposite is Bung Hatta’s palace with his statue and bust decorating the vicinity. Then there’s Fort de Knock, a Dutch remnant down the road. From here, we can view the majestic Merapi mountain (not Jogja’s Merapi) to the south and the Singgalang mountain to the west.

Silhouettes, sunrise behind Merapi


Statue of Imam Bonjol


Jam Gadang


Interestingly, the town is rather precariously situated at the edge of a hill that sweeps into a small canyon, called Ngarai Si anok where a river meanders through the deep valley below. Strategically during the Japanese occupation, they (the Japs) chose to build tunnels at this particular edge of the hill with secret exits into the canyon, aptly called Lobang Japang by the locals. Forced men labor was imported from Jawa and Sulawesi and killed once the tunnels were completed.

Ngarai Si anok

After a short respite at the hotel, we decided to explore the town on foot. Unknown to us, Boogey had made acquaintance with the hotel owner’s son who had brought him to their other hotel and their beautiful minang house, surrounded by vast paddy fields, in a village, peripheral to town.

Bukit Tinggi town, early morning

We found a shop that offers foot reflexology and full body massage only for men and after maghrib prayers, hubby immersed himself for 1 and half hours in what was to be his best ever massage experience. He had only praise for the young masseur. After a very heavy Minang lunch earlier, we opted for a simpler dinner at a road-side gerai, incidentally run by a guy and his son, of Indian descendent. We had murtabak and nasi goring. Unfortunately he doesn’t know how to prepare teh tarik and when I suggested that he should learn how to, he politely retorted by saying, “tak tekejar saya”.

Next:

Visiting and praying in Indonesia’s oldest mosque, Masjid Bingkudu

Lembah Harau and it’s enchanting waterfalls, a spectacular sight to behold.








9 comments:

Jamil said...

I bet Mum and Dad - especially Dad - will be talking of plans to follow suit in the near future. I'm just praying that if that happens, the budget won't come out of my Macbook fund -.-"

Did you come across those ladies who wear buffalo horns on their heads?

dith said...

No I didnt come across those ladies. Are you related to them by any way?

Btw, does the Macbook fund exist in the first place? hehe

kulo said...

tengok tu...polis trafik dia stat very early, walaupun takdak keta. kat tempat kita???

Jamil said...

DITH - Only if I happen to sprout some buffalo horns myself.

And yes, the fund exists...in my wonderful imagination!

ikelah said...

kulo

tempat kita dia keluar pukul 7.40 am masa trafik dah sendat kalau di kuantan.

tak nak poco poco ke kat malaysia?

Count Byron said...

DITH

Nice to be back.. and to see so many new entries.

Your write on this tour is wonderful. Love those pictures. Imam bonjol on the horse looked so very contemporary.. good for a cowboy film.

May you have great life, you and your family, DITH

CB

dith said...

CB,

Thanks for the dua. And how are you doing sir?

pycnogenol said...

Halus sekali senibina Rumah gadang itu, sehalus dan seenak memakai sarung tenun buatan di sana.

Pycno tidak sabar untuk bergaya memakainya ke Masjid Jumaat ini...hehe...;)

Terima kasih.

dith said...

Glad you like it. Sorry couldnt get for everyone. Faham jer la, budget holiday, beli barang pon kena limit, hehe

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