Sianok Canyon, Perfect Natural Fracture

Bet with rain, I left Kinantan Zoo. I think it would be very disadvantage to just let go of Bukittinggi’s natural fracture charm. Going through same path as I entered Fort de Kock, Limpapeh Bridge and TMSBK, now I was standing again at front gate of that square fort.

A young age man came with a smile approaching me. He was an online motorcycle taxi that I was waiting to take me for next destination. On fast journey, he said “Brother, your signal will be bad at valley , if you want to be picked up after finishing your visitation, I’m ready to take“. Because my habit that doesn’t want to be rushed in enjoy something, especially about the beauty of nature, I refuse it subtle.

Dr. Abdul Rivai Street had finished to be passed until the end. That is the road name to remember a “Bumiputera (local people)” who had fought against Dutch colonialism through journalism realm. Next, the road started to sharply swoop when I turned to the right.

One kilometer swoop down trip presented a breathtaking view of valleys on either side of Binuang Street. Janjang Koto Gadang like a Great Wall of China miniature looked in a flash of eyes. I didn’t have time to visit it because I had to bet with travel services schedule to Padang.

Welcome to Kenagarian Sianok Anam Suku“, written at top of a gate which is located precisely in middle of bridge which connecting two valley sides which is cut off by Batang Sianok River. On right pillar told that I was in Sub-Districts IV Koto, while the left one told that I was in Agam Districts.

The shallow Batang Sianok River.

The twenty meter wide river never seemed to be angry with spilling flood. My estimation is very reasonable with existence of semi-permanent and even permanent buildings in river banks. And somehow, sandy soil deposits in the middle of river were delivered from some where by river currents.

The other side of Batang Sianok River.

I can’t imagine how two sides of cliff that were originally fused then shifted in opposite direction to form a perfectly perpendicular fracture and created an elongated valley which was then invaded by water to form a natural river.

And…. Heavy rain was really falling…..

Made me to escape from canyon and looked for a shelter. “Gulai Itiak Lado Mudo Ngarai” restaurant terrace became a comfortable place to shelter even though I was closely watched by its owner. Finally I dared myself to ask permission for temporarily took shelter .

It was true, I really didn’t get a phone signal to call a online motorcycle taxi when it started to rain. I tried to find a higher place and then get two signal cell bars. I struggled to order an online motorcycle taxi that was repeatedly rejected. Until finally, on fifth call I was picked up by a middle-aged woman with her scooter matic and delivered me to my last destination in Bukittinggi.

Sianok canyon was captured from Panorama Park.
Sianok Canyon view with Singgalang Mountain background… Isn’t it beautiful?

Janjang Ampek Puluah, Integration Manifestation in Colonial Era

Moving from Bung Hatta Proclamator Monument Park, I moved down along Istana Street, across Plaza Bukittinggi, greeting Gadang Clock Tower, treading on Minangkabau Street and then entering Cindua Mato Street.

A step later, I entered Pasar Atas. Most of stalls were still closed because I was too early to visited it. There was nothing I could do, only a few stalls which were preparing to open, marked by its owners who was busy arranging their trade goods.

Quiet.

Now I was at a gate with a view of steep steps, two tigers guard it on either side, while at lower end was seen a bit of trading crowd, maybe that was Banto Market.

I slowly descended while my mouth muttering count numbers….It’s true, forty steps. These rows of stairs are known as Janjang Ampek Puluah. It is said that forty symbolizes number of Niniak Mamak members.

Legendary connecting stairs.

Brilliant thinking for Louis Constant Westenenk (Agam Resident Assistant/Controleur Agam) who collaborated with Niniak Mamak (Minangkabau Customary Institution) in sparking an idea to integrated of Pasar Atas (Upper Market) – Pasar Bawah (Lower market) – Banto Market in early 20th century. At that time, Janjang became a popular facility in market connectivity. The thinking power of leaders at that time was really squeezed in order to organize Bukittinggi city which had a hilly and uneven topography.

I arrived at lower gate with four poles and European style, also with a large signboard “Janjang Ampek Puluah“. After all, I finally knew that this lower gate was a new construction, complementing the upper gate which had already existed.

Colonial style lower gate.
The Lower Gate was seen from T-junction of Pemuda Street, Perintis Kemerdekaan Street and Soekarno Hatta Street.

While at inner side of lower gate, there is an inscription which contains a brief history of legendary Janjang existence as high as 5 meters and 4.6 meters in wide which was built in the past.

I was still staring at the elegance of this colonial era integration facility, while residents seemed to be moving up and down at Janjang. I really didn’t want to leave this area quickly, stunned to think of how form of this area when Janjang hadn’t been built, maybe where I stood was still in the form of steep hills which separating three market activities.

Janjang Ampek Puluah is just one of many Janjang in Bukittinggi. Apparently Colonial Government was quite serious in integrating all city economic spots at that time. You need to know that there are still Janjang Saribu, Janjang Koto Gadang and Janjang Pasanggrahan in the town which called as Fort de Kock in its past time.

At outer side of gate, public transportations start to generating city pulse. The appearance of imperious Banto Trade Center increasingly shows that the surrounding area can be relied upon as a driving force for city’s economy.

Okay let’s continue….If you go straight ahead, what else is there?