Padang West Sumatra
Sumatra is composed of three regions: volcanic highlands, a long
coastal plane and a series of jungle-covered islands just offshore.
Much of the province is still wilderness; virgin jungle inhabited by
elephants, tigers, leopards and rhinos. It is the traditional
homeland, of the Minangkabau, who are known far and wide through the
archipelago for their shrewd business sense, their firey-hot dishes
and ancient matriarchal customs. The women own property and the men
leave home to seek their fame and fortune. Traveling is considered a
mark of success and West Sumatrans and their Minang or Padang
restaurants are found in all major towns across the nation. The
people are hospitable and eloquent, with a poetic style of speech.
West Sumatran days are filled with colorful ceremonies and
festivals. Legend has it the Minangkabau are descendants of the
youngest son of Alexander the Great, King Maharjo Dirajo. West
Sumatra’s center of culture and tourism is Bukittinggi, nestled in
the highlands north of the provincial capital of Padang. Surrounded
by high mountains, picturesque valleys and, lakes, Bukit tinggi is
considered by many tourists: to be the most hospitable city in all
MINANGKABAU PEOPLE CULTURE
The people of Minangkabau used to leave their country and live at other areas of Indonesia, even in Malaysia. If you see a restaurant named “Ruman Makan Padang” it is a Minangkabau restaurant, and sometimes in short called “Rumah Makan Minang”. Many experts say that matrilineal system of their society that force Minangkabau men to leave their land.
Minangkabau people speak Malay with some slights different, which can be grouped as dialect /a/ tends to use /a/ as the first vowel, and dialect /o/ tends to use /o/ as the first vowel.
The original house of Minangkabau is a high house, built on poles with roofs shaped as horn, almost similar with that of Torajan in south Sulawesi. The house is called “Rumah Gadang”.
Basic economic activities are farming, trade, and small part also introduce handicraft such as weaving and silver works. Most of the trades activities have been handled by Minangkabau people themselves, and very few outsiders that can participate in this economic activities.
Padang West Sumatra tour Program:
Places of Interest
Within the Nagari organization system it is introduced 2 basic
systems. Firstly is Body-Caniago, a democratic system, and
Koto-Piliang system, an autocratic system. Today these 2 systems
have become more and more disappeared due to the application of
Almost all people of Minangkabau is Moslem. In the past many rituals that had relation with religion now already discarded or simply forgotten. Some people are still believe in invisible being or holy spirits that could effect human life.
In Minangkabau, the centralization of power is never in the hand of a family leader, but the authority is usually vested in a Senior Woman (Mother or Grandmother) or a mamak (the mother’s brother — Uncle-). In the Minangkabau kinship system, the grandmother if she is still alive has a higher status than the mamak. Both men and women are involved in traditional ceremonies. In the processing of marriage, the role of women is very dominant. Generally, they have the right to supervise the ricefield management and the harvest including the supervision of the earnings, trading, sewing, etc.
The heart of the highlands, Bukit tinggi is a pleasant small town in AGAM Plateau, Located 930 metres above sea level, Bukit tinggi, (formerly called Fort De Cock by the Dutch), has a cool climate and is surrounded by three volcanoes: Tandikat, Singgalang and Merapi.
The central landmark is the town’s clock tower, referred to by the local people as Jam Gadang. it overlooks the market square, a beehive of activity and fantastic place to do some souvenir shopping. Also worth visiting is the Rumah Gadang Museum, a traditional extended family house built in the 19th century. There are dance performances on the museums open stage every Sunday and on public holidays.
The famous bullfights at Padang Lawas (6 km south of Bukit tinggi) are every Tuesday at 05.00. p.m, where the antics of local owners and bettors are as much fun as the lights themselves! Nearby Kota Gadang is renowned for its fine silver filigree and hand embroidery.
Fort De Kock and the Museum
Fort De Kock is an old fort built by Dutch with a footbridge leads high over the main street of Bukit tinggi to the Museum and the Zoo. The museum has a nice collection of Minangkabau art and culture to exhibit. The Zoo isn’t worth a visit, it’s small not well kept and the animals do not have much space to live.
The Sianok Canyon or Ngarai Canyon stretches out for about four kilometers southwest of the town. It is a valley with not more then a river and rock walls rising up to 120 meters at some places. It is possible to walk trough the canyon and at the end climb up along a small steep trial after which you can walk through the rice fields and Kota Gadang back to Bukit tinggi. Because you have to cross the river a few times in the canyon it is worth to take, next to a good pair of walking shoes, some plastic sandals because the river is full of sharp stones.
Start your trip south of Bukit tinggi near the bridge over the canyon which leads to Kota Gadang. From here go to the left into the canyon and just follow the river. For some parts you will have to follow a small trial leading through the vegetation and over some rocks. After some minutes walking you will see a small house of an old Indonesian man who lived here all his life alone with his family. Sometimes one of his sons is there who can guide you through the canyon. After a few hours you will reach the end of the canyon near a waterfall. From here you can walk back or climb up to Kota Gadang. A little bit back from the waterfall the trial leads up at the right side of the canyon (when you are faced to the waterfall). It is a heavy climb but when you are at the top you can walk through the rice field and the main road to Kota Gadang from where it is about two hours walking back to Bukit tinggi.
The village of Pandai Sikat is 10 km from Bukit tinggi and famous for its hand-weaving and carving industry. The village has thousands of looms and turning out richly colored cloth. Carved wooden ornaments and furniture are also made here. Ngarai Sianok (Sianok Canyon), This 150 meter deep canyon lies on the out skirt of Bukit tinggi. It is an incredibly picturesque area, lush green with a river winding through the bottom of the steep-walled canyon. West Sumatrans claim it is unrivalled for natural beauty in all of Indonesia, and locals frequently take visitors and friends on outings here.
50 km southeast of Bukittinggi, this is the largest town in the Tanahdatar area, and a center of the ancient Minangkabau culture. Fascinating historical sites abound, among them Pagaruyung, home to ancient inscribed stones at Batu Basurat, literally meaning ‘Inscribed Stone’.
Legend has it that this is the cradle of the Minangkabau culture, the first village of the Minang ancestors who descended from Mt. Merapi. It is a village of traditional houses, some said to be over 300 years old. The surau, or men’s house, is one of the last of its kind still in use. Make sure to visit the open council grounds with ancient stone seats, the mosque and hot spring.
36 km from Bukittinggi is another ideal Place for recreation and water sports at Singkarak Lake, the longest in West Sumatra. There are several hotels and restaurants in the area. A nice side trip from the lake is up to the village of Sulitair, where there is a huge 64-meter communal house now occupied by four families.
Ngalau Kamang and Ngalau Indah
North east of Bukittinggi is the cave Ngalau Kamanga, a cave with stalagmites and stalactites. There is also a small lake. For the rest this cave isn’t so impressive, there are better ones. Also the cave Ngalau Indah on the road to Payakumuh is not worth a visit. Local people ask a lot of money for a five minute walk through some halls with a few stalagmites and stalactites.
On the road from Medan between Bonjol and Bukit tinggi is the village Palupuh where you can visit the Rafflesia sanctuary. The Rafflesia is the largest flower on earth and also famous about its disgusting smell. Because the flower blooms between August and November it is worth to ask the tourist information in Bukit tinggi first if you have to make the 16 km trip to the Rafflesia sanctuary.
Rimba Panti Nature Reserve
Rimba Panti Nature Reserve, 103 km from, Bukittinggi, is a refuge for the Rafflesia Arnoldi, the largest flower in existence, blooming only once a year. A guide can be obtained from the office at the reserve. The provincial office of the Directorate of Nature Conservation (BKSAA) at Padang can give you complete information.
The Harau valley is about 45 km from Bukit tinggi to the north east and a real hassle to get. You first have to take a bemo from Bukit tinggi to Payakumbuh and from there to Harau valley. But the place itself is worth a visit. From a flat land the cliffs of about 100 meters high rise up and through a narrow opening the road enters the valley. In the valley you can walk around and visit many waterfalls which fall down from the cliffs. The highest waterfall drops its water from 110 meters high.
Kota Gadang is eight kilometers from Bukit tinggi and famous for it crafts. Here you can see the silversmiths at work with filigree or see the weaving of shawls. It is a small village and famous about the number of professors who were born here. Because the children had to walk the eight heavy kilometers to school at Bukittinggi twice a day, only the ones who really wanted to learn something did this year after year until graduation.
To visit Kota Gadang walk to the bridge over the Sianok canyon. At the other side of the bridge steep stairs will lead up to Kota Gadang. It is also possible to catch a minibus from the bus station in Bukit tinggi.
One of the most beautiful spots in west Sumatra is lake Maninjau. It is a crater lake about 40 km from Bukit tinggi. To get there is quite impressive because the road from Bukit tinggi first goes up to Matur from where it twist and turns down through 44 hairpins with spectacular views over the lake. It is also possible to walk down from Matur or Lawang to the lake but that is a heavy steep trial and very slippery in the wet season. The lake itself is a good place for swimming and relaxing. At the north west side of the lake are some hot springs and if you like to walk you can walk around the lake because there is a small road all around.
The capital of west Sumatra, Padang is the largest port on the west coast of Sumatra, its bustling harbour a crossroads for rubber, cinnamon, coffee, tea and nutmeg.
The excellent Provincial Museum is built in the traditional Minang style and houses prehistoric artifacts, ceramics, manuscripts and modern art. In Kampung Cina (Chinatown) you wander streets lined with turn-of-the-century houses, Chinese herbalists and coffee shops. Good hiking and wonderful views of the city can be had a Bukit Monyet and Gunung Padang.
Taman Hutan Raya Bung Hatta
The 70,000 hectare botanical garden lies at 1,000 m above sea level, on the way to Solok. Monkeys and other indigenous are protected by the Park Warden, as are the innumerable varieties of exotic flora. The cool mountain air and panoramic views make this area a popular resort for both the young and old.
Four islands make up the Mentawai cluster off the West Sumatra coast: Siberut, Sipora, Pagai Utara and Pagai Selatan. The people of these islands still live in comparative isolation, maintaining their age-old ways. Siberut is becoming increasingly popular Eis an area for trekking and visiting these ancient cultures. It is well known for its virgin rainforest, inhabited by a number of animal species not found anywhere else in the world, among them some rare monkey species. Beautiful coral reefs are found offshore.
Kerinci-Seblat National Park
Sumatra’s largest national Park, the Kerinci sprawls across four Provinces. It is home to rhinos, tigers, elephants, bears and orang-utan. The scenery is magnificent, dominated by volcanic cones, including the highest peak in western Indonesia, Mount. Kerinci. Lake Kerinci is the best place to sight the Park’s famous bird life: hornbills, banded broad bills and drongos, whose tails give the illusion that the bird is constantly being chased by two black butterflies.