A Travellerspoint blog

March 2012

Sumatra

The animal kingdom

all seasons in one day 30 °C

Devastated by frequent natural disasters, and occasional terrorist attacks, the island of Sumatra has had a violent history. But tourism numbers are starting to register as the ecosystems rebuild and attract the nature enthusiasts. The locals are happy and hopeful for a brighter future.

Our flight arrived in the polluted capitol city of Medan late in the night. We were egar to get out as soon as we arrived there, especially after searching for what seamed like an eternity for a decent (ridiculously expensive) room to sleep in. Early the next morning we set out to find the islands most popular destination, Lake Toba. After a hot, sweaty, 6 hour smoke choked bus ride with the locals, we finally set eyes on the volcanic crater lake.

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The volcanic eruption that created this crater lake is said to be the biggest in recorded history and actually altered the earths climate. The surrounding mountains are vibrant green and lush with fertility. They make a gorgeous back drop for the lake that is uncomprehendingly huge.

We stayed on Samosir Island in Lake Toba which was created by another volcanic eruption. For nearly two weeks we soaked in the fresh lake water and tremendous amounts of rain. We found a lovely family run restaurant Joe's Cafe just outside of Tuk Tuk. The husband Joe and wife Uli are amazing people and have the best food around.

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Lush green rice patties surround the lake with the traditional Batik style houses.

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Next we decided to head into the jungles of Bukit Lewang in search of Orang-Utans.

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in recent years Bukit Lewang was victim to a horrific flood that wiped out the entire village and killed hundreds of people. The locals are still emotionally recovering as efforts are still underway to rebuild. Bukit Lewang is a beautiful river side village deep in the Sumatran jungle. It is home to rare wildlife including the Bohorok Orang-Utan.

We trekked through the jungle with a guide and were ecstatic to see the abundance of life. We visited cautiously with 200 pound Orang-Utans and photographed the beautiful Thomas Leaf monkeys. Around every corner was another surprise. The storm however, came with a warning of heart stopping thunder directly above and all around us. Rain in the jungle is merciless. I guess I shouldn't have sent my rain coat home.

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Jungle peacock

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Strange jungle bug

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Thomas Leaf Monkey

After Bukit Lewang we took a cheap domestic flight to the north tip of Sumatra. Bande Ache, which you may recall, is the epicentre of the 2004 boxing day Tsunami that wiped out a large portion of Asia. We took a short boat ride from there to an island called Pulau Weh.
Pulau Weh sits at the meeting point for the Andaman Sea and Indian Ocean. This meeting point creates a unique abundance of sea life found no where else in the world and attracts many people eager to explore its waters.

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The balcony of our bungalow stretched over the clear turquoise water. It was easy to spend hours just sitting in the hammock, watching the schools of colorful tropical fish swim underneath you. We spent days snorkeling and diving in these beautiful waters, following big octopus around, watching sea turtles and enormous tropical fish surrounding the colorful coral reefs.

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We took day trips to Rubiah Island, which is a small Island adjacent to Pulau Weh, well known for its magnificent coral gardens. We met a good group of people from Erick's Green House and were able to get a few good volleyball games going.

Our time in Sumatra was well spent. To see how natural phenomenons flourish with beauty and diversity was a mind blowing experience. The people who have suffered come around smiling and help remind us not to hold on to the past. We decided to make a cheap VISA run to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia ($20 return with AirAsia promo!) before heading back to Indonesia for another month. Stay tuned for the next update on another paradise island.

Posted by H-Dizzle 20:12 Archived in Indonesia Tagged animals monkey jungle sumatra pulau_weh lake_toba Comments (0)

Koh Phangan

Paradise Island

all seasons in one day 30 °C

It's amazing how fast 3 weeks can go by like no time at all. This seams to happen every time we go to Koh Phangan. When we look back and ask ourselves 'what did we do'? The answer is always the same, not much at all. Our days were spent visiting with friends on the Islands many beaches and laughing the time away. Koh Phangan is truly a timeless paradise.

This is my favorite beach, the location is TOP SECRET!
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Eric and I dedicated this time as our 'social time' considering we had spent the majority of the last few months with only each other. We arrived in Koh Phangan with our friends from home Richard and Michelle. We were soon joined, for a short time, by Jim and Kate (friends we met while traveling in Nepal). The first week in Koh Phangan was a bit hecktic with full moon party goers ruling the island. A week later once the chaos diminished, a good friend from home Karatron also joined the crew and brought with her the serenity we had been waiting for. Its amazing how quickly the day goes by, after a few games of cards and some laughs on the beach the day is over. Often at the end of the day, we would find ourselves at Pooh's Vegetarian Kitchen. A devout Buddist who makes the best Papaya Salad; you can taste the love. We eventually found a good Yoga teacher and were able to stretch our lazy muscles out.

Koh Phangan sunsets
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Our Yoga teacher Paula and her boyfriend Pascal knew the ins and outs of the island and were kind enough to take us to a hidden river bank in the jungle. We spent the day wading in the river and playing cards as Paula and Pascal cooked an amazing meal on the BBQ for everyone.

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Not the best photograph I know but after traveling all day through the muddy mountain off roads with scooters, we were just happy to arrive in one piece. A feeling of triumph at Bottle Beach.

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I try not to think much about the past or the future but for some reason I cannot get this dog out of my head. She was truly a loyal companion during our stay in Koh Phangan. I miss her dearly and think every day about how I can bring her home.

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We are now in Sumatra experiencing the natural and historic island. The lush greenery and lake front cottages are very relaxing... if you can handle the rain. Remind me again why I sent my rain jacket home?

Posted by H-Dizzle 20:37 Archived in Thailand Tagged beaches sunsets phangan phangan_beaches Comments (1)

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