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    Tropical Storm Tour: Sumatra Part 21

    Monday, August 24, 2015
    Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia

    A banana tree in Baso village near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A banana tree in Baso village near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A beautifully weathered wall on a traditional Minangkabau house in Baso village near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A beautifully weathered wall on a traditional Minangkabau house in Baso village near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    My guide, Armando, and a cacao fruit in Baso village near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    My guide, Armando, and a cacao fruit in Baso village near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Banana chips drying on a rack in Kiniko, near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    Banana chips drying on a rack in Kiniko, near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A woman cooks up something delicious in Kiniko, near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A woman cooks up something delicious in Kiniko, near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    I'm sorry, but my rooster is all tied up at the moment in Rao Rao, near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    I’m sorry, but my rooster is all tied up at the moment in Rao Rao, near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Since it was my final day in Bukittinggi, I had to make it count! So, I paid the guide Armando 250,000 rupiah ($18.00) to take me on an eight-hour tour on the back of a motorcycle to points of interest in various villages out in the countryside. At our first stop, Baso village, we encountered a whole host of plants that provided the local population with various kinds of fruit like bananas and cacao (which is used to make chocolate), spices like peppermint and cinnamon, plus clove, coffee beans and even medicinal plants to cure health problems. I was blown away by the sheer variety of foliage on offer that benefitted humans in so many ways. Next up, we stopped by a restaurant and shop in Tabak Patah, where people made homegrown traditional Minangkabau coffee, banana chips and other yummy snacks. The whole place overlooked a huge, scenic valley full of rice fields.

    Traditional Minangkabau houses in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    Traditional Minangkabau houses in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    The interior of a traditional Minangkabau house in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    The interior of a traditional Minangkabau house in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Gorgeous textures galore on traditional Minangkabau houses in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    Gorgeous textures galore on traditional Minangkabau houses in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A close-up of a beautifully weathered wall on a traditional Minangkabau house in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A close-up of a beautifully weathered wall on a traditional Minangkabau house in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Traditional Minangkabau houses in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    Traditional Minangkabau houses in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A close-up of a thatched wooden wall on a traditional Minangkabau house in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A close-up of a thatched wooden wall on a traditional Minangkabau house in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Stop number three saw us enter a small village called Roa Roa, which was chock-full of traditional Minangkabau houses–many of them nicely weathered and a few either renovated or brand new. It was fun winding our way through the narrow back lanes amidst a veritable wonderland of aged and distressed surfaces. Armando pretty much knew all of the locals by name and answered their questions about the bule (foreigner) he was with. I had a wonderful time interacting with them; they seemed quite amused to see an outsider in their midst. (Armando told me not many tourists come through Rao Rao.)

    Armando stands amid the pointy rooftops of traditional Minangkabau houses in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    Armando stands amid the pointy rooftops of traditional Minangkabau houses in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A close-up of a beautiful wooden wall on a traditional Minangkabau house in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A close-up of a beautiful wooden wall on a traditional Minangkabau house in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A woman brews up a meal in her kitchen in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A woman brews up a meal in her kitchen in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A gnarly weathered structure in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A gnarly weathered structure in Rao Rao near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A yummy lunch at a cafe near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A yummy lunch at a cafe near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    The giant Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    The giant Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    The peak of the whole tour arrived when we pulled into Tanjung Emas, near Batu Sangkar, to visit the Pagarayung Palace. Originally constructed in the 17th century, the entire structure was rebuilt three times after being destroyed by fire in 1804, 1966 and most recently in 2007, when it was burned down to the ground after a lightning strike! Right after we arrived, Armando filled me in on the history of the place as a former royal palace and present day museum and tourist attraction. Although at times it was hard to decipher his accent, I pretty much got the gist of it. The whole shebang–inside and out–was completely smothered in intricate patterns, making for one heck of a collection of eye candy.

    The gorgeous interior of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    The gorgeous interior of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    The gorgeous ceilings of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    The gorgeous ceilings of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A display of traditional Minangkabau costumes in Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A display of traditional Minangkabau costumes in Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A view out the back of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A view out the back of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    The gorgeous interior of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    The gorgeous interior of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    The gorgeous interior of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    The gorgeous interior of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Spanning three stories, the building was anchored by the ground floor, which was chock-full of modern reproductions of vintage Minangkabau artifacts, including furniture, weapons, jewelry and traditional costumes. A short video clip played on repeat featuring a history of the palace, as well as snippets of cultural events that have taken place there. The perimeter of the interior was festooned with layers of brightly colored curtains that created deep bedrooms lairs. On the second and third floors, large, open windows provided dramatic views out over the tall, pointy rooftops and the vast grounds that spread out in all directions around the palace.

    A couple tries on traditional Minangkabau costumes in front of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A couple tries on traditional Minangkabau costumes in front of Pagarayung Palace near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A small village full of traditional Minangkabau houses near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A small village full of traditional Minangkabau houses near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    This is someone's smokey kitchen in a small village near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    This is someone’s smokey kitchen in a small village near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Some locals pose for a photo in a small village near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    Some locals pose for a photo in a small village near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    A small village full of traditional Minangkabau houses near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    A small village full of traditional Minangkabau houses near Batu Sangkar, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Beautiful countryside near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    Beautiful countryside near Bukittinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    After a half hour of exploring, I had to head back out front and hop on the motorcycle with Armando, as I wanted to make it back to Bukittinggi before dark. I definitely did not want to be out on a motorcycle at night. Hell, it’s dangerous enough in the middle of the day! After one more brief stop in a village full of traditional Minangkabau houses, we hit the road for a long 90-minute ride back into Bukittinggi. About a half hour before we arrived, the clouds went dark and let loose with a drizzle from Hell that lasted until we pulled up to the Hello Guesthouse. Luckily, it was not a torrential downpour, so I didn’t get soaked to the bone. What a fortunate ending to an epic day!

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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