Staying at De Kock Hotel, Hunting the Gadang Clock Tower

Driver: “Donny, just get off here, okay? This car will turn to right, then car will run further away from downtown“.

Me: “Oh Okay, Uda. No problem for me

I was lowered by Annanta Travel on Veteran Street, I sat for a moment and stretched muscle stiffness after sitting in the back seat for eight hours. The white statue of Tuanku Imam Bonjol on his horse became the first sight which entertained my arrival in Bukittinggi. The “Paderi War” Leader spreaded charisma, valiantly without sound.

T-junction of Veteran Street, Pemuda Street (left) and Ahmad Yani Street (right).

After two days felt scalding heat in Pekanbaru, now I enjoyed Bukittinggi’s cool air. Now I was free to direct my camera to every where without sun sting. I had to occasionally stop because city contours which are up and down, making me gasped for breath with backpack’s burden on my back.

Entering Teuku Umar Street, which began to decline.

From a distance, I continued to look each other with a young blond girl who was sitting to enjoying the afternoon on big motorcycle. I predicted that she was precisely sitting in front of De Kock Hotel where I would stay in it.

It was true, arrived right at the big motorcycle was parked, I was confronted to hotel lobby in the form of a cafe, then young girl followed me and hurried to reception desk. It seemed like she was a hotel staff on duty that afternoon.

I would sleep on second floor of that simple dormitory.

Me: “Hi. Were you in Samosir four days ago?, I think that we stayed at a similar hotel, Bagus Bay Homestay”.

Noah: “Oh really? Yes, I was in Samosir four days ago”.

Me: “I’m Donny. I am an Indonesian traveler. What is your name?”.

Noah: “I’m Noah form California”.

Me: “Are you on vacation, No? What do you do in America?”.

Noah: “Yes, I’m on vacation. I am an engineer at oil company. What is your job in Indonesia? “.

Me: “Marketing”.

Noah: “What marketing?”.

Me: “I work in field, meet customers, and sell products”.

Noah: “Oh, you aren’t marketing. You are a sales. How about your income? Good income? I work with good income but with high risk in America … hahahaha”.

Me:” Yes, of course, I’m a salesman. I got a lot of money from my work”.

That was Noah, my new friend in Bukittinggi. Incidentally we were the only two who staying in the dormitory room with five single beds.

—-****—-

I sat in the lobby, a medium-sized bottle of Coca Cola managed to freeze my sweat after walking in a kilometer. That afternoon I intend to visit Gadang Clock Tower which is only half a kilometer to northwest of hotel.

Around 17:30 hours, I started to moving and carrying camera towards Gadang Clock Tower. I chose to walk through Yos Sudarso Street which tends to be flat and then descending on Istana Street.

Novotel’s old building.

Directly across from Novotel is Bukittinggi Plaza. I just quietly stood in mall courtyard to enjoy the beauty of Gadang Clock Tower. Sabai Nun Aluih Park, which was under the clock tower, was covered with a tight project’ iron sheeting. Apparently, There was park renovation.

96-years-old clock dedicated to secretary of Fort de Kock (old name of Bukittinggi).

As its name “Gadang” which in Minang language means “Large”, this clock tower is twenty-six meters in high with four 128-years-old twin clocks which was directly brought from Rotterdam via Bayur Port.

Operated by a Brixlion engine whose its twin is in Big Ben, London.

Was designed by Radjo Mangkuto, Gadang Clock Tower was made with 4 levels. The lowest level is the officer’s room, second level contains a clock’s ballast pendulum. Clock is placed on third level and the uppest level is tower top where clock’s bell are placed.

I was happy, being able to see Gadang Clock Tower which since I was a little boy, I only knew it through my elementary school textbook.

Black Taxi from Toba Lake to Pematang Siantar

I entered Eloise’s room to pick up my backpack which I had entrusted since morning. I checked out in the morning and continued to exploring Samosir all day with her. I said good-bye to her and prepared to go to Pematang Siantar, while she was still overnight at Samosir.

Bagus Bay Homestay staff directed me to wait for a ferry at the nearest port. Turn left after exiting the hotel, a few tens of meters later, I entered a alley at left side of road. Keep stepping until I reached a stall, right on port edge.

Tigaraja, Sir? Wait for half an hour, okay?“, Said a timer to me. Half an hour which was more than enough to ate a bowl of instant noodles with egg topping for USD 1.1 in stall corner.

Ferry looked approaching and the timer was silently pointing my face, then his index finger was pointing toward the ferry. I understand what that means.

Not even perfectly leaning yet, I jumped into the ferry. All passengers on the left deck shouted. “Watch out, Sir!” I waved like an artist. It turned out that my ability to maneuver with motorboats in Jatiluhur Dam when I became a fish farm salesman was still good.

Zoe’s Paradise Hotel (white) and Dumasari Hotel (red) stared at me when leaving Samosir.
Heading to Tigaraja port in 50 minutes.

The man in a faded blue jeans was intently staring in the distance when I descended the ferry. There isn’t other way to avoid it. I looked like waiting for a thug who was ready to hit me.

Siantar, Sir. Forty thousand Rupiah (USD 3)?“, He said while shadowing my steps. “Oh, taxi service“, I said. Chasing INTRA Bus which would leave at seven o’clock in the evening, I said yes. And I was taken to Bagus Taxi’s office.

Dying for a pee but didn’t getting a toilet, someone took a shower too long….Huftt.
Driver and passenger were hostile through a wooden pawns fight.

Looked like I was the last filler in taxi manifest. So fast, I’ve just sat on right side of middle row seat.

Right on my left, an old man who liked smoking during journey.

Black Avanza (one of Toyota type in Indonesia) swirled to measure street and picked up passengers one by one. pickup was ended with one incident when a woman missed her wallet in the fifth kilometer of our trip. It was annoying but can make me a little bit laugh. There wasn’t choice, the taxi turned back to get her wallet.

Leaving Toba Lake, the taxi speed forced me to open my eyes. It invited me to snaking and enjoying beautiful natural scenery of Simalungun Regency. Oil palm plantations, fields, hills and valleys were passed one by one. Occasionally the driver created humors, one of it when he frantically installing a seat belt which he didn’t wear in unison with a passenger next to him, even failedly installing it, until we passed the police operation area….Luckily, he didn’t stopped by police.

Within an hour and 20 minutes, taxi started to entering city edge, then headed to downtown via Gereja Street and Merdeka Street with two monuments as city landmarks.

Adipura Monument. Siantar has won this environmental award for four times.
Wahana Tata Nugraha Monument in President Soeharto era, an award for the excellent of transportation management.

Brother, once you get to Parluasan area, just go to the bus office, be careful“, said Erwin (my backpacker friend who accidentally met on KL HoHo Bus on 2013). Maybe he was worried about me when entering Parluasan area who was famous for its thugs. But I casually responded because I knew that I would be dropped right in front of the INTRA bus office.

I arrived…..

Let’s waited for brother Erwin to pick me up for getting around Pematang Siantar for a moment.t

Bus “SEJAHTERA” from Medan to Toba Lake, North Sumatra

I would tell my journey by Bus “SEJAHTERA” from Medan City to Toba Lake. The distance was 170 km and bus fare was IDR 40,000 (USD 2,85). The special thing wasn’t on got into the bus but in curiosity along the trip to immediately met the largest volcanic lake in the world.

dhazong

Yes that is the Dazhong Backpacker’s Hostel lobby….Bored.… became a first guest who woke up on early morning, but my plan failed to catched the first departure Bus “SEJAHTERA” on 6 am. One hour pacing, I made noisy sound with a hope that hostel owner would get up. Starting by pushed bell many times at reception desk or got in and out the door so the “WELCOME” sound sensor rang. Crazy activity aimed to got back my deposit money in hostel.

6:10am He woke up.…but, I didn’t immediately get GORIDE (online base transportation in Indonesia) because of a weak signal, I decided to got close to center of Little India area, precisely at Shri Mariamman Temple. Around 6:34am GORIDE picked me up. Didn’t breakfast yet I immediately went up, I would definitely arrive at Amplas Terminal 5 minutes before bus departed. It was true that GORIDE hadn’t entered yet into terminal. The bus looked out from terminal, I rushed down from GORIDE and waiting for bus to approached me.

Here, I got a photo of Amplas Terminal on a day before when I arrived from Kualanamu Airport:

amplas

10 minutes into bus, drizzle turned into heavy rain. This economy bus often stopped for raising passengers before entering into highway. Rain requires all windows to be closed. It was the challenge.… how to set my breath so didn’t inhale much smoke along the way. With closed windows and many passengers smoked, when they finished one cigarette then they would smoke other ones.…crazy.

When starving, no one food hawker came into bus. I was only occasionally chatting on Facebook Massanger with “The Beauty” Eloise who kept asking how I was going to Toba Lake, She was an Australian solo traveler who met me at dormitory in Medan City. She would go to Toba Lake in the day by copying what I did. Also, She asked where I got a guesthouse in Toba Lake for IDR 60,000 (USD 4,3)… Later I would tell to you how finally we were both riding a motorcycle on exploring Samosir island.

bus sejahtera

Noisy sound of worn wipers together with Batak songs accompanied me to enjoyed view of streets, villages, and oil palm plantations.

At 11:25 my eyes were stunned on appearance of wide waters after bus descended a ridge somewhere. Yesss … it was Toba Lake … It was cool.

Driver’s change to bus return trip to Medan was did before arriving at Tigaraja Ferry Port. I almost went too far from drop point because bus conductor didn’t tell me where the bus was, I just monitored “Your Position” on Google Maps. It looked like I stayed away from Tigaraja Port. I decided to get off from bus and walked in a drizzle to port.

Didn’t want to lost the moment of photo hunting along Tigaraja Port then I bought umbrella for IDR 50,000 (USD 3,5) in the market around the port.

tigaraja

Several corners of Tigaraja Port

Toba Lake … I came!