Most people who read here will know that I have close connections with Indonesia, especially Sumatra. My husband is from North Sumatra and this is where we met, while I was living there some years back.
In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking a LOT about Sumatra, partly because my husband has been back to visit his family, but also because of the terrible earthquake that struck West Sumatra on September 30th.
I travelled through this area of West Sumatra in Jan 2001 and it’s a beautiful part of the world. The photo below was taken at Lake Maninjau, not far from the city of Padang which was badly damaged in the quake.
I was travelling with a friend who I discovered not far into the trip had far different expectations from travel that I do. The mudslide on the road to West Sumatra from North Sumatra that kept us stuck in our bus overnight until they cleared the road terrified her, the typical Asian squat toilets horrified her and when we arrived at the gorgeous, yet primitive lake side huts that we were to stay in at Lake Maninjau, she promptly burst into tears and insisted we relocated to the much more upmarket guesthouse further along.
All the time that she struggled with the less ‘luxury’ travel that she had been used to, the locals were so sweet. Always smiling and encouraging and finally close to the end of the journey I think she’d adapted somewhat and finally relaxed into the location and the adventure.
Lake Maninjau has a particularly special place in my heart. It’s a beautiful and mysterious place with wonderfully friendly locals and the most spectacular views you are ever likely to see. I hope to go back there some day.
My heart goes out to the people of West Sumatra. I hope that the experts are wrong and that there IS NOT a bigger earthquake to come. There’s already been too much loss and devastation in this wonderful part of the world.