Middle-aged woman driver picked me up at “Gulai Itiak Lado Mudo Ngarai” restaurant.
Me: “Mrs, I had canceled my order because it was too long, but Ialso haven’t managed to order another motorcycle taxi, Mrs“
She: “In my application, it haven’t canceled. I was stuck in traffic because a car broke down on top. Come on, just go up, Sir. It’s hard to get signal here, you won’t easy to get a motorcycle taxi again, Sir. “
Without long thinking, I rushed to sit in back seat and refused to use a raincoat which offered by her because I was sure soft drizzle wouldn’t make me wet.
Opposing the direction which I came and turned right when it was at top of Binuang Street which was cut off by an intersection, then I traced the same street name to the name of a city park which I was going to.
She just dropped me in front of park entrance which was very crowded. I tucked USD 0.5 on her motorcycle dashboard as a tip even though she persistently tried to refused. Salute to her.
Not as much time as other visitors, made me walked in a hurry to ticket sales counter which is protected by a roof with three shoots of “gonjong“, then gave USD 1.2 to get entry access.
Japanese Tunnel was the first site which I looked for when I entered park area. I was so curious about the shape of this longest defense tunnel in Asia. Not hard to find, statue of two Japanese soldiers who stand in opposite directions is a marker of its existence.
A tour group appeared and closes gate of Japanese Tunnel because of focusing in hearing a direction from their tour guide. There is also a floor plan which illustrates path in this defensive tunnel.
While at right of entrance, park main area is dominated by ceramic floors which form a performances podium with one of its sides being a view point of Sianok Canyon and Singgalang Mountain.
In some spots, there are garden canopies with four shoots of “gonjong”. Bukittinggi topographic contours with hilly-valleys appear to be described by this park shape. One side of park appears to be higher than the other side, many stairs are provided, making it easier for visitors to access each side of park.
While on left side, there is a flat area which is used for children playground with a single pillar as centre. Also visible a small glass-walled musalla is on a side of children playground.
This is Panorama Park which closed my journey in Bukittinggi. I will come back to this city if I had a chance. I will return to enjoy delights of this town’s Kapau Rice.
It was time to pack up and heading to Padang City.
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 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.
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.
Walking through Veteran Street, I slowly approached De Kock Hotel to check-in. Cool and peaceful is an image in my head about Bukittinggi when I arrived.
1. Limpapeh Bridge
Halfway to hotel, I was fascinated by a suspension bridge. It is the Limpapeh Bridge which stretches over Ahmad Yani Street. It was built in 1992 and have function as a link between Wildlife Cultural Park Kinantan and Fort De Kock Fortress area. Stretching along ninety meters with approximately three meters in width, making this bridge so dashing visible from Ahmad Yani Street.
2. GadangClock Tower
A bottle of coca cola closed my check-in session as well as a starting marker for my exploration around Pasar Atas that afternoon. Walking through Yos Sudarso Street with up-down contour, my steps arrived at a phenomenal landmark which is famous throughout Indonesia.
Gadang Clock Tower, a landmark which was given by Queen Wilhelmina, looked dashing. Needed long time in waiting for different color lights to appear and illuminated entire this giant clock tower as a marker of switching from evening to night. Because of its fame, Gadang Clock Tower has been designated as Kilometer Zero Point of Bukittinggi City. “Gonjong” shaped roof or roof style which was commonly used in “Gadang House” (typical house of West Sumatra) makes this European architectural art possess a local customs wealth.
3. Bukittinggi Plaza
Major renovations at Sabai Nan Aluih Park, made me only able to enjoy the beauty of Gadang Clock Tower from mall courtyard which is located opposite this big clock tower.
Bukittinggi Plaza in the last few years had became the best mall in Bukittinggi. Ramayana (Indonesia’s prominent department stores) becomes main player which occupies seventy percent of overall mall capacity.
4. Bukittinggi Grand Mosque
Fun in enjoying the beauty of Gadang Clock Tower almost made me lose Maghrib Prayers. I tried to trace azan origin several minutes before. Heading north, I finally arrived at Bukittinggi Grand Mosque.
The mosque which in earthquake 2007 became a refuge for residents who evacuated because of damage which was caused by the massive earthquake.
5. Pasar Atas Bukittinggi
Grand mosque which is precisely located in the center of Pasar Atas (a famous market in Bukittinggi) made me interested to explore road towards Pasar Atas. Dark which continued to devour the day, made shop owners began to close them one by one.
Pasar Atas is a market which places several sellers of Kapau Rice, Ampiang Dadiah Ice and Sanjai Crackers which are favorite crackers for souvenirs which were bought by Bukittinggi visitors.
Hungry stomach has forced myself to immediately look for dinner. Dinner under Limpapeh Bridge finally closed my two hours exploration on my first night in Bukittinggi
6. Unknown Hero Monument
My second day exploration began with leaving the hotel on a quiet morning. Even residents’ activities hadn’t been seen. Quiet and cold didn’t dampen my steps to visit Unknown Heroes Monument.
This monument was built to commemorate heroes who couldn’t be identified in opposing Dutch Colonialism on 1905. The monument with a circular shaped ornament of large dragon and on its top stands a statue of a young man who holding a flag.
7. Bung Hatta Proclamator Park Monument
While across the front of monument, there is a park with a black statue of Bung Hatta. Known as Bung Hatta Proclamator Park, this park was dedicated to Mohammad Hatta, the native son of Bukittinggi who proclaimed Indonesian independence with Ir. Sukarno.
8.Janjang Ampek Puluah
Returning to Cindua Mato Street which I passed last night, I headed for a connecting stairway between Pasar Atas and Pasar Bawah also Pasar Banto (three markets in Bukittinggi). A steep concrete staircase with forty stairs which is 112-year-old. This is embodiment of public facilities integration in past time. At that time, Dutch East Indies Government and several local powers agreed to connect every market in Bukittinggi, one of which was by making janjang or stairs.
9. Bung Hatta Birthplace Museum
Coming out of lower gate and passing through Banto Trade Centre which looked unkempt, I headed to Bung Hatta residence when he was a child. Even though this house is actually only a reconstruction building, but its interior arrangement and exterior appearance are made as closely as possible to condition of the original house which has collapsed. If you want to know about life history behind Muhammad Hatta glory in his political career, then come to this place.
10. Fort De Kock
After visiting Bung Hatta Birthplace Museum, I intended to walk to Fort de Kock through Pemuda Street with quite a long climb walking and meanders from south to north. But apparently I wasn’t strong in middle of journey, I called for online transportation to drive me at Fort de Kock front gate.
Fort de Kock was built by Captain Bauer in 1825 on Jirek Hill as the defense dome of Dutch East Indies Government in facing popular resistance i.e Paderi War which led by Tuanku Imam Bonjol (Indonesia’s national hero).
11. Wildlife Cultural Park Kinantan
From Fort de Kock, I just needed to cross Limpapeh Suspension Bridge to a famous zoo in Bukittinggi.
Wildlife Cultural Park Kinantan is one of the oldest zoos in Indonesia and the only one in West Sumatra with the most complete collection of animals on Sumatra island.
12. Baanjuang Traditional House Museum
As the zoo grew, in 1935 the Baanjuang Traditional House was built in it.
Functioned as a museum, this traditional house is dedicated to elevating the traditional culture of Minangkabau people. Its inside were exhibited various clothes, jewelries and typical Minang art tools.
Not far away….In northeast of the zoo, there is a Zoological Museum with Sumatran tiger and goldfish as its icons. The museum was established in conjunction with a similar museum at Bogor in 1894. Two thousand species of animal are preserved and exhibited in this museum.
I left Fort de Kock from its entrance. My next destination was Sianok Canyon. A valley formed by natural fracture, has a wall which is perpendicular to Sianok River which flowing in the middle. But it was unfortunate that the rain fell so heavily. After getting off from an online motorcycle taxi, I felt like I was hopeless and just waited for rain to stop. Under a tree, I continued to observe valley in a side of Sianok Canyon.
15. Japanese Tunnel
The rain began to thin but still never let up. It caused my hope to enjoying the canyon for a longer time had to ending. I get a online motorcycle taxi with middle-aged women as the rider. Under light drizzle, I headed for Panorama Park.
Before exploring Panorama Park, I made time to explore the longest defensive hole in Asia. A Japanese tunnel made by order of Lieutenant General Moritake Tanabe, 25th Division of Japanese Army Commander. Very deep, long and amazing.
Finally the closing visit fell at Panorama Park, a large park with two entrances on edge of Panorama Steet. With a ticket for USD 1.1, I tried to enjoy this shady garden in my last seconds in Bukittinggi.
Leaving the park and returning to hotel, I prepared to go to a travel agent office to reach Padang city. On 13:00, I finally left Bukittinggi. Goodbye Bukittinggi.
So for you who intend to go to West Sumatra….Visit Bukittinggi and enjoy the cool air there.