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Jalan Hutan to Berastagi

By: Magus Kutabarat –

While Billy Bob was in Bukit Lawang, he heard about the 2 famous volcanoes close to Berastagi. Sinabung had been regularly active for over 4 years, spewing hot ash over nearby villages, and drifting across to Berastagi. Sibayak continues to spurt sulphur steam from its crater but causes no danger and creates geo-thermal power.

He thought he would have to travel back to Medan to get to Berastagi, but he met a bule traveller who had rented a motorbike at Lake Toba, and now wanted someone to deliver it back there. He said he had ridden the forest road from Berastagi instead of the main road from Medan, so Billy Bob could take the same road back.

The dirt road was rough, but Billy Bob enjoyed riding through the forest, plantations and villages. At one place only motorbikes and 4WD cars could pass,  and further along he got a flat tyre, but a local pick-up truck stopped and took him to the next village ‘tempel ban’.

In English Billy Bob thought this sounded like a religious protest, but learnt it meant tyre repair service. Next to the this was a warung kopi and he met locals playing chess or catur, and he lost a game and bought everyone coffee.

The tyre repair only cost him Rp 10,000 , less than $1, and soon he was back on the road. And soon he was approaching Sinabung, still puffing smoke into the air,  but no ash was falling. He was shocked to see villages and farms covered in ash-mud and realised its destructive capability.

Closer to Berastagi, he passed the fertile farming land Berastagi was famous for, including jeruk oranges and cabbages.

Berastagi town still has a colonial style to its architecture, a cool temperature and a cool vibe from the local people. Billy Bob found a losmen to stay at and a doorsmeer to wash the motorbike.

At the night market, having barbeque fish, he met a local man named Smiley who offered to take him trekking up to Sibayak volcano. (to be continued…)

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