Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 1 February 2014 • Destination
I opened my eyes, startled.
“Oo..oo..oo..oo..” I heard the sound again and it was followed by the swoosh of wind. I wanted to close my eyes as it was midnight, but there were too much unfamiliar sounds around my wooden cottage. I’m not the bravest person in the world, but I’m used to sleeping alone, I’d even lived alone for years. But I have to admit that I wasn’t all comfy with these nocturnal sounds. Let alone, there was a loft above my bed, which I had no idea what was in it, since the stairs were too steep and I didn’t want the hassle to climb it in the dark though I was curious what was there.
I was staying at Abdi Homestay, and the cottage actually sleeps 4 people. I was traveling with Diyan, then my boyfriend. The homestay owner, Ikbal, wouldn’t allow unmarried couple to stay in the same bedroom. We had expected that, since West Sumatra (and many other places in Indonesia) is quite strict on applying Islamic rules. So Diyan was sleeping in a cottage 10 meters from mine. And no, nobody snuck in to nobody’s room at night!
After a while, I got used to the “oo..oo..” sound, which later I found out came from gibbons, and slept soundly until morning. Then I woke up to the sound of rooster and the sunlight that peeped through my window. Birds were chirping cheerfully and the first thing I saw upon opening the door was a wide spread of green paddies. It was like the perfect picture of a “vacation at granny’s” minus the granny. Huge granite wall backdropped the cottages. A waterfall was supposed to gush down, but I guess January (2013) wasn’t the right season.
Breakfast was served on the porch of each cottage. Well, I joined Diyan on his porch. The menu was either fried rice with egg or ketupat sayur. We had each for the two mornings we were there. Both were actually too heavy for my breakfast, but I needed to make sure I had enough energy for roaming about town. The food tasted so-so, but I enjoyed eating while watching an old lady in her colorful outfits, shooing pest birds off of her rice fields. She had a stick that she poked to strings to which cans were attached to, making noise that made the birds go away.
Ikbal and his wife Noni started this accommodation a few years ago when he decided to quit working at a bigger lodging nearby called Lembah Echo (or Echo Valley). They had 4-5 cottages built to accommodate travelers from around the world. There was a Caucasian couple, a small group of Jakarta girls checked in at Abdi Homestay other than us. We had a little chat with them on an afternoon, when we passed by their cottages after a walk, and they were enjoying hot tea that’s served every afternoon by the staff.
Abdi Homestay didn’t have motorbikes to rent. But Ikbal kindly lent us his, and we decided to pay anyway, IDR 50,000 per day, as the common motorbike rent rate. There was no gas station in the village. Gasoline was sold in a kiosk, poured to the tank from jugs by the seller. This kind of “gas station” is a common practice throughout Indonesia, especially in rural areas where normal gas stations are hard to find, and they charge slightly more than the normal gas stations.
Electricity was non-existent in the cottages – I’m not sure if it is now. We knew about it when we booked the rooms via phone. And we were so ready to be detached from the “modern” world. Turns out, we had our gadgets charged in Ikbal’s house, which was behind one of the cottages, only 2 minutes walk from my cottage. So, yeah, we couldn’t resist the temptation of bragging about such sweet homestay online!
Abdi Homestay is located in Kabupaten 50 Kota. I have no specific address of it, but can contact them through email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: + 62 852 6378 1842.
Usually Ikbal would arrange a pick up by motorbikes. It helps if you have a mobile handy, so you could let him know when exactly you could be collected in Payakumbuh, the closest town, should there be any delay.
We paid for IDR 100,000 / person / night, and that was in January 2013. Prices might have changed now.
Abdi Homestay’s blog: click here.
To see our favorite activities in Harau Valley, click this link.
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