33: Indonesia > Sumatra Barat > Hamka’s Maninjau

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Early morning, Sunday 8th July 2007.

See, I told you our rooms were virtually above the water, and what a beautiful sight Lake Maninjau is.

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Looking west, the early morning sun rays illuminate the high clouds.
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The fish get their breakfast. Incidentally this man falls into the water soon after this photo is snapped, but no problem, he saves himself. Unfortunately I am in the toilet, so no pic of the drenched man.

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As the run rises, the mist lifts and I can clearly see the northern rim of the crater.
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Curious, I go to the retaining wall, and dip my foot into the water. It is invitingly warm, but this water could be menacingly deep. I hear a story of a car full of people which accidentally fell into another volcanic lake, and nothing was ever found. Maybe they slid all the way down to the murky bottom, 100m+ deep.
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I notice pink snail eggs [thanks to Jan Stuivenberg for pointing this out] growing on the wall, close to the waterline. Cute.

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We have breakfast on a veranda above the water. Just simple fried rice and coffee, but the view is worth everything.

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Aina admires the calm lake. It was choppy when we arrived last night.

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Full-scale fish-farming is a major income for people living around Lake Maninjau. Lorries come from Bukittinggi to fetch the fish, transported out live in oxygenated plastic bags, for export elsewhere.

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In the hotel reception, a map of Lake Maninjau is displayed: 460 m above sea level, 100 sq km of surface, and max depth of 165 m. Formed by a volcanic eruption 52,000 years ago.

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Zoom-in on the road from Bukittinggi with its 44 bends. This is the only decent way in and out of Maninjau. Our hotel is the orange boxes.

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In the restaurant, a poem from legendary Hamka, an Indonesian icon, also a local boy.
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And Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president, also recommended Maninjau.

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I also spot a familiar face, Dr Mahathir. Looks like photo was taken in his KL office, but how it ended up at Lake Maninjau, I have no clue.

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Nearby a map of Sumatra Barat, showing places we have touched.

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A lady returns to shore with her morning’s work on the lake.

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She has been scooping this little critters off the lake’s surface, since dawn.

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The only road which encircles Lake Maninjau, but most of it is gravel.
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Dogs are freely reared by the Muslim Minang folks. They use it for hunting on weekends, such as today.
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The canine is everywhere, normally minding its own business.

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Maninjau is the birthplace Hamka (1908-1981), a great Indonesian.
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He was born at this site on 17th Feb, 1908. I bet he had a dog or two.

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My old folks are fans of Hamka. The only time Dad met him was when Hamka went to his teacher’s college in Tanjung Malim (Perak) more than 50 years ago, to give a talk. He has been a devotee of Hamka ever since. Today he reciprocates the honour.

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He could not believe it that he’s at Hamka’s home at last, and being hosted by Pak Hanif, a nephew of Hamka’s.

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Collection of Hamka’s countless books. Secular novels and religious books, plus more.

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Dad used to have a collection of Hamka’s books when he was a young man, all written in the old Indonesian spelling, which I found hard to read. I was a small kid then.

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All meticulously kept for posterity.
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Posing with Hamka. This is a pilgrimage.

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The obligatory group photo with Pak Hanif. Mom remarks he looks like Hamka.

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We leave Hamka’s house and we see trees where cinnamon comes from. Slender trunk with white spots, and red leaves.
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The trees are cut, and the barks, which are cinnamon, are removed. This is one reason why the Europeans came all the way here many centuries ago.

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Here they plant rice all the way to the lake’s edge.

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Any strip of land is not spared. Freshly-planted paddies grow next to paddies ready for harvesting.

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I say, the Maninjau people need not leave this heavenly place – they can plant their own rice, and rear their own fish and livestock, and stay here forever. But Hamka had to leave.

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Multipurpose coconut palms are also everywhere. This place is surely self-sufficient.

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This Maninjau mosque is built by the Dutch, in a campaign to win the hearts of the natives.

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The minaret is of old design.
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Built 8th October, 1916. Another Dutch era.

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And of course, the ubiquitous man-and-best-friend-on-a-Sunday-hunting-trip.

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We depart Maninjau by retracing our route last evening, i.e. uphill road to Bukittingi, all 44 hairpin bends of it.

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As we climb up the crater rim, the view gets better.

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Even on the slopes they won’t stop growing rice …

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… on terraces. How do they get the water so high up?
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And to top everything off, this pretty spot takes the cake.

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One last splendid view of Lake Maninjau before we reach a pass in the crater rim to descend to Bukittinggi, to make our way back to Padang. It has been a breath-taking experience.
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> TO BE CONTINUED …

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