I just got back to Jakarta after spending a week with Colleen and Steve (their last in Indonesia, boo!) on Sumatra in the small town of Bukit Lawang. The name "Bukit Lawang" translates to "doorway to the hills," which is accurate, as the town is the jumping off point for folks like us keen to see the Sumatran orangutans in Taman Nasional Gunung Leuser (Mt. Leuser National Park).
After a few hours of driving through the unfortunate palm oil plantations that dominate the landscape between North Sumatra's main city, Medan, and Bukit Lawang, we arrived at the guesthouse we had booked, Indra Valley Inn. Since it was Saturday night, the town's weekly party (consisting of all of the 20-somethings in town, a handful of backpackers, a live band, many beers and a couple of joints) was bumping in the restaurant just below our rooms, so we joined in:
The next morning we got to see the river that we could hear rushing nearby the previous night. Also, while we ate breakfast we watched people marching up the town's main drag carrying big rubber tubes that they would later ride down the river:
Our hammock hang out area:
Apparently Bukit Lawang is a local hotspot on the weekends, with lots of Indonesian tourists day tripping from Medan and surrounding villages to picnic by the river and tube/swim/play in the cold, refreshingly clean river water:
Taking photos with us was also a favorite activity of the local tourists... I think we probably took photos with over 50 people after this couple broke the ice:
Since Bukit Lawang is in a valley between 2 big hills, there are lots of pretty waterfalls:
Here is the craziness that was going on downstream... looked like people were having fun!:
In general, though, I would say that we really liked Bukit Lawang... the people there were quite possibly the nicest and genuinely friendliest people I have met in a while. They loved to hang out and chat, play board games, sing... good stuff. We were particularly fond of our trekking guides, Jakka and Simon:
More on them and our trek, coming soon!