Wednesday, 2 December 2015

South-East Asian Adventures: Volcanoes, hot springs and tropical fruit in Berastagi, Sumatra, Indonesia

After Bukit Lawang, we left the jungle behind and climbed up and up into the mountains.

We trundled through villages where puppies and chicks ran round freely (I think the animals are left to breed with abandon but oh em gee so much cute) and wound our way round the mountain edges while chimps and baboons swung from the trees by the road. 

Eventually we arrived at our next destination: Berastagi. 
Being so much higher up, it was a lot cooler, but having a view of a volcano from our hotel was pretty awesome, especially when it erupted - yes, we were right next to an active volcano, eeeek!
Our main activity in Berastagi was climbing Sibayak volcano. It's a dormant one, thankfully, although dormant does not mean extinct so I wasn't totally at ease (A-level geography seems like a long time ago now.)

A very precarious mini-van took us to the base of the volcano and from there we set off on foot.

These things hurtle down the streets with kids sitting on the roof and hanging out the sides. It's mad.
Yeah, it turns out I'm not a natural hiker.

Especially when it's raining and muddy. And I mean really muddy.

The thought "why am I paying to walk through mud?" did cross my mind.

But I did it!

I climbed the volcano!
 
Oh my days, the smell of the sulphur at the top was horrendous though. As someone who doesn't like egg, that was some strong eggy stench.
And I even made it all the way down without sliding over in the mud. It was a challenge. 

It wasn't an easy hike, but we had the perfect muscle-soother afterwards: natural hot springs. 
Nestled in between the mountains, we slid into the wonderfully hot water and relaxed.

There were a few different pools, each of which was filled with naturally hot water. It was amazing! Some of the pools were actually too hot to go in though. You know when you run a bath so hot that when you first dip your toes in you can't tell if it's searingly hot or freezing cold? It was like that.

It was a very cool experience though and the scenery was incred.

Next up we went to visit a really interesting church - although Indonesia is 80% Muslim, there are areas where other religions are dominant, including Christianity. And this church was particularly fascinating as its design was such a mix of traditional Indonesian and Christian cultures.
 We also got a cool view of the erupting volcano! Not the one we had just climbed, thank goodness.
By this point in the day, however, I was utterly starving and so was more than ready for a spot of lunch. 

Tea, fresh passionfruit juice, a veggie stir-fry and some fried bananas later and I was in a much better frame of mind. Never let me get too hungry, folks. I'm not at my best. 

After lunch we went to an awesome fruit and veg market. 

Now, I consider myself to be something of a fruit connoisseur back home. And by that I mean I eat all the fruits and a lot of them.

But there were so many fruits I'd never seen, tried or even heard of at that fruit market. It was amazing!

Strawberry mangoes...
Oof, they were so tasty! The flesh and skin are bright orange and the fruit is extra sweet and perfumed.

Snakefruit...
They taste a bit like strawberries but are crunchy. I'm a fan.

White passionfruit...
The seeds are white inside and they're sweeter and less tangy than the usual ones.

And so much more! I walked round sampling and buying tropical treats to take away.
It had been a busy day and by Jove, was I ready for a shower and a chill.

So chill we did before setting off for the next destination the following day - off to an island on a lake it was!
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2 comments

  1. This is so cool! I would be crapping myself if I was that close to an active volcano, I was getting pretty anxious when I was in Catania and Mount Etna was gently fuming. So much fruit, how amazing! xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lucy! Ooh they sound cool too :) x

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