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Heaven and Hell
Rating : ( 4.8 ) ( 2 votes )

Heaven and Hell
Bukkitingi, Lake Maninjau, Lake Toba, Indonesia
Feb 01, 2004 16:06

Pros: amazing and heavenly place
Cons: bad transportation

Sumatra, Indonesia

Indonesia felt like the old Wild West of the states. Lawless, mysterious, amazing landscape, hardy people and adventure laden. It was literally a last minute decision to hop the 4hour ferry from Malaysia to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. I couldn't resist, I had already passed up Borneo because I was running out of money and couldn't stand the thought of missing out on this exotic land. Traveling Indonesia is a 100 Percent Adventure. The Asian economic crisis of the late 90's, terrorist attacks in Bali, and political unrest in Jakarta and Aceh has rocked and destabilized this once booming economic nation. Though the US dollar is still very strong here, I saw few foreigners on the apparently once hardened tourist route.

Travel in Sumatra, Indonesia is crazy. The distance between tourist meccas are long, winding and slow. I took two separate 14hour overnight bus rides that were equivalent to spending the night in HELL. Non-ventilated compartment that led to a suffocating plume of cigarette smoke all night long (no windows to open!), COCKROACH infested, cramped, non-reclining chairs, nauseating twists and turns around the numerous wrinkles of every mountain, flat tires in the middle NO WHERE, blaring techno music at 5am in the morning.... never again.

Heaven/Atman/Nirvana/Big-Bang awaited me though. Bukkitingi, Lake Maninjau, and Lake Toba were all slices of heaven/atman/nirvana/bigbang. The two lakes sit in once active volcanos, with a visible rim and lush green forest/vegetation surrounding both. Driving the switchback road down into Lake Maninjau really gave you the feel that you were going into a volcano. The rim was intact for most of the way around, except for where locals cut a pass into the western corner to allow more light to come in during the sunset. Lake Toba is the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia. You actually stay on an island that sits at the center of Lake Toba. Both places are ideal places to take a Vacation from your Vacation.