After a few months of travel-less the time finally came for me and the beau to go out and see the outside world again. His mom, Grace and her partner, Patrick came to Indonesia earlier this August. Like most westerner, Bali shall be on the list, of course. The couple booked eleven nights in a nice, beautiful resort in this land of paradise. However, the beau and I were in charged for the non-Bali-days-agenda. Therefore, we decided to go to North Sumatra.
The choice was made based on my wish to see the magnificent Lake Toba, but given the chance of North Sumatra being the home of orang-utans, I thought why not make them on the list?
I have never been to Sumatra before, and me trying to avoid the travel hassle decided to book a 5-day tour to see orang-utans in Bukit Lawang and Lake Toba. Based on my past experience, when you come to a new place in Indonesia and when you have the money, using a tour is the easiest way to do and see most things in the local area. However, I broken-heartedly declare that I regret doing it this time. I won’t say too much details in here, suffice to say, the tour I took deserves a very bad review that I will post later online somewhere.
The journey from the airport to Bukit Lawang took around 4 hours going through the suburban areas and palm oil plantation. When I went to East Kalimantan in 2012, I thought the palm oil plantation there was terrible, but turned out that 60% of palm oil plantation in Indonesia are located in Sumatra and 30% of it is in Kalimantan.
The first two days in Bukit Lawang was amazing, beside all the worries about the place, food, and facilities that might not suit Grace and Patrick, things went quit well. The place was beautiful, the food was decent though the jungle trek was hard, extremely hard. Our room was located right in front of the river.
Jungle-trekking to find orang-utan reminded me of my old days at Mainichi when we went to Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan and did the same thing for photo purpose. Except, the trekking I did that day was so much easier. The trek in Gunung Leuser National Park took about 6 hours. We went through the local village and crossed a terrifying bridge over the Bohorok river to reach the forest.
Climbing up and down steep ground, and hanging on to rock by the waterfall with nothing protecting us from falling… was crazy, but we did it. Trust me, climbing down was more challenging. At some point I almost cried myself wanting to go home, but I didn’t show it to people and just kept on going. Well… when you stuck in a place like that, there is no choice but just to keep on going, right? And I must say it was actually very fun. We found an orangutan, and cutie monkeys in the forest.
Simon, our guide, has been working as a tourist guide for four years and has excellent English, but I dare say he has spent his life playing around in the jungle since he was kid since this was the place he was born. Oh, I shall mention that we had lunch in the jungle. Indonesian fried rice, fried chicken, and fried egg. It was yum.
Our last stop of the day was the Bohorok river. The river was very calm, very clear and surrounded by the rainforest. From here, we rafted back to the hotel with rubber tubes tied together, so much fun.
The third day was disastrous. Our trip to Lake Toba turned to be almost 9-hour in the car only for us to miss the 5-o’clock ferry to cross the island. We ended up staying in Parapat. It was too bad that we missed it, but at least I saw what I wanted to see and the beau and I have promised ourselves to go back here and stay in the island next time. Also, we stopped for a few minutes in Karo area to see Sipiso-piso waterfall. It was awesome.
After stopping for the night in Parapat, we travelled back to the capital city of North Sumatra: Medan to stop over for two nights before flying to Bali. We all were exhausted and knackered from the car journey and decided to just stay in the hotel for the two days with me having a few swimming lessons in the pool. My dear friend, Rudy, visited us at the hotel and took us to eat and brought us dinner later in the night. I also forced the beau to have a little stroll with me around town. We found the Old Town corner in the city.
After 5 days in Sumatra, on day 6 we flew to Bali to stay in Grand Mirage Resort in Tanjung Benoa. I went here last year to report a dispute between the locals and government’s plan to build islands on Benoa Bay, which will caused bad effects not only to the environment but also to the local people’s life. The dispute is still going on until today. Anyway, a peek to our place:
It was too bad though Grace fell sick on her first day in Bali, throat infection it was. She and Patrick were also being very kind and treated me and the beau for the all-inclusive package. Unlimited food and beers for two days, Pete was never sober. We only had two days in Bali because of course, we had to go back to work. Grace and Patrick were very lucky to be able to spend another ten nights there. For my last half-day in Bali, we decided to go to my favourite area: Ubud, in Central Bali to see the market and buy a green tea latte from my favourite Kopi Bali House in Monkey Forest road. Some photos are below.