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15 February 2009

Tracing my roots: Bukittinggi

By Lokman Hakim

I was born in Negeri Sembilan and when talk about Negeri Sembilan, people always relates to Minangkabau. Though I was born in a community which still strongly holds to the “adat pepatih” in this 21st century, I knew so little about my ancestors.

Last week, I had the chance to get a little closer looks of my roots. A colleague of mine is getting married with a Minangkabau-an from Bukittinggi – Indonesia and when I heard about it, I see the chance for me to have a better looks on my roots (sounds like an excuse to go on holiday eh… :P) Straight away I book AirAsia flight to Padang, Indonesia and make arrangement with my other colleagues (20 of us, include my bosses… (^^!) ) for the ground handlings.

Bus in Padang, Indonesia

We took early morning flight to Padang (7.50am) and reach around 8.00am (GMT + 7). I heard a lot of nasty things about AirAsia On time Performance but to my surprise, the flight was on time and on schedule. A good start for the day :)

View from Kelok 44 Bukittinggi, Indonesia

After finish all the procedures, we are greet by our local tour guides outside the airport terminal, which later bring us to their “mobil” and off we go to Bukittinggi. Bukittinggi is a highland, like our Cameron Highland but much bigger and better, IMHO. It’s 95Km from Padang took us about 2hours to reach there. On the way, we took a quick stop at Lake Maninjau, 2nd largest lake in West Sumatera and make way to Kelok 44 (named after the number of sharp road corners) to the top of hills which held one of the most breath taking sites I’ve ever seen. When drove up the hill, do remember to open your windows and feel fresh breeze of the nature. It’ll wash away your problem :)

Songket Weaving Bukittinggi, Indonesia

During the 3 days stay in Bukittinggi, we have experince a lot of things. We went to Pandai Sikek to experience Songket Weaving, Woods Cratfing and also shopping. A lot of different varieties of textile can be found here as Bukittinggi is the center of the textile industry around West Sumatra.

“Sarang Semut/Ant Plant Papua” In Aur Kuning Bukittinggi, Indonesia

We went to the overcrowded market in Pasa Aur Kuning the next morning. You can find a lot of things here, fruits, vege, fish, eel, “kerepek”, Kebaya, telekong and many more. Highlights of the group today is to shop for textile products such as kebaya, telekong and kain batik. Since I’m not really into shopping, I just leave the group and explore the area myself. I had a few first time moments during my personal exploration there. First time seeing “Sarang Semut” plant, live eel, taste “kerepek” from pumpkin, giant pumpkin(which weight more than 10Kg each) and a many other things.

Minagkabau’s Wedding – “Anak Daro/Bride” Bukittinggi, Indonesia

Minangkabau’s wedding is not so different from our local’s Malay wedding except they strongly practice their tradition, which is “adat pepatih”. In Malay’s wedding, the event start around 12 when the bridegroom arrive to the brides house. But in Minangkabu’s wedding, they start’s around 10 a.m in the morning, where the elders in both clan (Minangkabau’s usually weds people from outside their “suku”/clan) discuss things about the future of both.

It kicks up a notch, when the brides, in her wedding outfits came out and all the “dayang-dayang” are line up behind the brides for the parades to the bridegrooms house and with the band of local musician playing out traditional wedding parades music all the way. It’s kind of like a big fiesta going on.

There’s a meaning behind this. In the past, it’s not common for a man or woman to meet each other and nasty rumors are bound to arise. This parades is done to let the people’s know that these two are together and avoid all those nasty rumors about these two and preserving the family honours.

Once the parade reach the grooms house, the brides mates or dayang-dayang will invite the groom to join the parade back to the brides house. It’s a really full of tradition. If I were to describe it, it’ll take a full page only for the wedding (I might as well take a Master in Culture study and write a thesis for this :P)

Malin Kundang/Si Tanggang Bukittinggi, Indonesia

One of the attraction in Padang is the remains of the stone ship and it’s content from the Legend of Malin Kundang which similiar to Malaysian Si Taggang. I was a bit disappointed when I reach the site. It was completely rebuild and none of the original shape are seen. Most of the shape are now being “preserved” using cements and give it a shape which I find quite unreal. The even imitate the ship ropes to make it surreal. There are original pictures of the site sold by the locals, before it being rebuild and it sure look convincing. The original really looks like a stone ship with a deck and cabin which are now buried under the sand.

With abundance of local resources, friendly locals, uniqueness of the culture and a lot of greens, Bukittinggi is the place for backpackers, nature laving person or even people looking for quick gateway from city life.

P/s: I forgot to mention that Minangkabau-an people are mostly farmers and from the Padang Airport, you will see a vast padi fields and vegetables farms by all the way to Bukittingi. To top it off, it was surrounded with hills making it looks like a drawing you done during your standard one. hehe.

  • Amirah Kausar

    did u manage to trace ur roots, ur ancestors ? besides attending d kenduri kawin ??? just kidding ..

  • Lokman Hakim

    well…it seems like mine was not from there but a colleague of mine was find a clue on his. hehe

  • Muqaddis

    I strongly urge you to take the opportunity further to explore Indonesia due to the abundance of attractions, islands, mountains, cultures and etc. The list is too long…

  • Lokman Hakim

    Hey muqaddis, that’s would be a great idea. My colleague actually suggested me to go on roadtrip/backpack from Padang To Jakarta and I think it’s a good idea. My next trip will be the Silk Road. Got to start saving now. hehe

  • Naim

    I agree with you whole-heartedly, Muqaddis. Indonesia is the world’s best-kept secret – pls browse my various Indo trips documented here: http://travel.nuraina.com/

    [Most travels by AK. :D ]

  • Amirah Kausar

    Very interesting experiences !!! We are off to Padang/Bukit Tinggi in May, still long way to go but right now, out of nothing, got so excited already .. wat are other things dat we can explore, besides the ones mentioned here, since we are prefer exploring our own rather than paying a tour agent ??? not forgetting food besides nasi padang ??? ..