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Berestagi

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Now given that the only real drawcard for coming to Berestagi was to climb one of 2 of Indonesia's most accessible volcanoes, you might have thought that the towns emblem would have been obvious. And so what did the Berestagi's bigwigs choose to represent local prestige? A giant cabbage. It was sited on a junction right opposite my guesthouse and gave testimony to the fact that despite being a default travellers haunt, Berestagi had other things on its mind. A subsequent foray revealed a sizeable wholesale fruit and veg market, swimming in mud and whickerware baskets, with photogenic locals hauling trolleys of the stuff around, wearing more often than not what was essentially a Sarong wrapped around their heads with the excess cloth left to hang down their backs. It doubtless afforded protection from the sun as they tended the many market gardens squeezed into any scrap plot of flat land about. It was as though travellers at least nowadays were a rarity here, certainly not a priority, and there was a palpable absence of the "Hello mister" brigade despite occasional spontaneous greetings. Up early then, I hoofed it up Berestagi's one main street back to the other hostel, hoping to hook up with another wanderer with climbing Gunung Sibayak in mind. When I got there the hostel was bare though, and with the overcast weather mustering the odd shower for good measure, it wasnt conducive to trekking that day in any case. Paining initially at the loss of another day, it actually proved fortuitous in allowing me a much needed rest of sorts, as well as tackling a multitude of pressing chores. After overdue ablutions and laundry, it was a priority to burn my photos to disc to free up over 3 Gig of camera memory, charge up my depleted batteries in the same vain, before hunting around for an elusive Bahasa Indonesia grammar book. One was not forthcoming but I did settle for a small dictionary whilst declining a humungous but poorly detailed map of Indonesia. The old boy at the souvenir shop was well travelled and had good English, and took pleasure in showing me his extensive banknote collection, including quite impressively pristine examples of 1 pound notes of the 3 Scottish banks. In taking a pit stop at a teenagers tea joint, the girls there wanted photos and kisses which was a laugh, then a haircut was the order of the day. The Indonesian interpretation was interesting, with the boy simply sculpting my head with an electric shaver then cut-throat shaving the back of my neck, he didnt lift a pair of scissors once. Bobbing around town I had also been able to check out some of the interesting local Karo architecture, with some of the many local churches being a quirky hybrid of square based pyramid topped Dutch influenced steeples, with longhouse stylised entrance portals and overhangs. Even the local bus shelters were a fantastic overindulgence of "bullhorn" appendages and elaborate gables. There was also a notable presence of horses in this town, a cowboy culture of sorts, and others were hooked up to garish chariots awaiting non-existent tourists. Back to pick up my photo CDs, no DVD burner in these parts, the boy continued the superfriendly vibe by having very neatly and comprehensively labelled each disc, he didnt know it but he had just saved me an hour at the only net terminals in town at the Telekom office doing the same. Just as well since the connection proved so ropey that I had to retype an email 4 times until I got it to go through, it wouldnt even let me save it. Back at the big cabbage, a newly arrived couple scarpered to remain disappointingly aloof, but young Gweryn from Carnarvon had also shown up to save the day. Overloud and initially not seeming the full 9 bob note, he was somewhat dubiously still the man I had been waiting for to accompany me up the mountain. Though not ostensibly requiring a guide, a list of MIAs at hostel no.2 detailed how periodically, some poor unfortunate had ventured forth never to return, even a brother and sisiter duo had been lost without trace on the volcano.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Indonesia

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