|Proper Travel Blog Post
||[Mar. 15th, 2011|05:01 pm]
So, I take it most of you already got a good look at the pictures of our weekend trip to Berastagi. (Psssst, they're here: https://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=289888&id=527312356&l=4068983032)
We finally managed to get away from the stinking maelstrom that is Medan. Don't get me wrong, the city is fascinating. But it's very hot, very crowded, very dirty and very loud. So we were looking forward to a weekend in a small town.
Berastagi is located in the highlands of Sumatra so the climate is much cooler. On Friday afternoon we took an Angkot (Minibus) from the university to the bus station, where we would catch a bus to Berastagi. We knew the name of the bus station and told the driver, but en-route the driver changed and the new one didn't knew where we wanted to get out. So naturally we managed to miss the bus station and rode til the end of the Minibus line. When we noticed that, we told the new driver and he managed to flag a big bus to Berastagi down for us on his way back (the end of the minibus line is the same as the first part of the Berastagi-line...).
The ride to Berastagi took us two hours and cost about 65 cents 0_0 The driver tried to short-change us first but we are no stupid Bules (= Foreigners, derived from the word vor Albino, because of westerners' white skin) and so we got our change eventually. The road to Berastagi is steep and winding. Our driver nevertheless used every opportunity to pass every bus, car and lorry we encountered on the road, only slowing down to let people hop on or hop off (literally!).
When we arrived it was already dark, raining a bit and deliciously cool. We checked in our guest house (room w/ bathroom, 100000R = 8€), and equipped us with a map to one of the volcanoes surrounding Berastagi. We decided against the route through the jungle since that would've required a guide (150000 to 250000). We opted for the „easier“, „clearly marked“ route.
We set of at 8 o'clock but were brought to a halt before we even left town by two girls on their way to school. They wanted to interview us for school, a popular homework given by language teachers.
The first half of the way went along a paved road, so no much jungle feeling there. It was, however, pretty steep in parts and we got some good looks of the plains behind us. Then we were supposed to get to a turn-off, which we only found be accident. The path improved a lot from meaning that it resembled our expectations of a jungle path much more. After some heavy brush wandering (yes, I made up that expression) we emerged below the crater. The crater itself was vegetation-free and we arrived there around noon. No shade, on a mountain, near the equator, around noon, forgetting to use sunscreen... all this spells sun burn in pretty big letters and even though I rolled down my sleeves and hunched in the shade of a rock for a bit it was pretty obvious that we would have a nice lobster tan this evening.
The crater itself was everything you expect an active volcano crater to be. The smell of rotten eggs, steam emerging with loud hissing noises from holes in the ground, ground and water warm from the magma lurking below (I suspect), yellow spots where the sulphur condensed on the stones.
We stayed there for an hour before we looked for a way down. The lady at the guest house recommended we take the same way down that we took uphill, since the other way was a little washed out because of rain season. Naturally, we ignored that advice. Not foolishly but because our guidebook said it wasn't to hard a path even without a guide. And boy, were we in for a treat! It was Indiana Jones-esque with paths almost becoming tunnels because of the vegetation, 1.5 meter drops, steps that didn't deserved the name and backtracking because the path was sometimes completely grown over. At one part we even had to climb down the roots of a fallen tree! Finally back in the plain we were very sun burned and exhausted but also very happy :) Even though we had to wait 40 minutes for the bus to take us back in the city. The driver just wouldn't be rushed.
On Sunday we just visited to markets in the morning. Berastagi is famous for it's fruit market and the fruit from the plains is sold all over Sumatra Island. I bought passion fruit, avocado and mangosteen, Patrik went for bananas and mandarines. After that we checked out of our room and took the bus back to Medan.
Today (Tuesday) the back of my hands and my nose still look pretty red/purple-ish, despite heavy creaming. I think at least my nose will peel :( But I learned my lesson, I won't forget to screen up the next time.
Next weekend we either want to Tangkahan where you can wash elephants or Pukit Lawang where you can watch Orang-Utans. We'll probably do both anyway it's just a question of what to do first :)