Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pantai Bungus, West Sumatra

We met an interesting couple while in Lake Maninjau, a frustratingly cheerful young tour guide from Bukittinggi named Tom showing around his latest Western girlfriend (Indo dudes + backpacker gals = common theme in Sumatra).  At this point our Indonesian visa was running low on days and with West Sumatra getting old quickly we sprung on Tom's idea of beach bliss. 

The punch-drunk youngsters organized us a place in their car so we could all split the cost.  We should have known by the name alone it was a dead end, but he seemed to think it was heaven on earth.  With a few days to spare and a flight out of Padang (only an hour away from Bungus) in a few days, we went ahead and joined them.

We had a fabulous Padang-style lunch just outside of Bukittinggi.  This one was complete with dozens of dishes including local specialties like boiled internal buffalo organs and crispy lakefish.  I stuck to the vegetables and curried fish.  Delish!

My favorite part was the dessert!   Sticky rice, coconut milk, condensed milk, sweet mystery sauces, syrups, fruit and ice all piled on top of one another.  I never got your name, but I will never forget thee.  It put Vietnamese Che to shame...

Once we arrived at Bungus, our jaws dropped.  It was possibly the worst beach we have ever been to in our lives.  No wonder, after all, it does rhyme with FUNGUS... and we did hitch a ride with lover boy and his quixotic romantic ideals. What did we expect?  What was once a beautiful tropical cove was now a toxic soup.  The shores lined with trash and the locals listless and menacing with fishing and tourism on a perpetual decline.

Below are the ONLY photos I took while we were there.  The first is of Gavin helping the local fisherman drag in their net during a monsoon rain storm.  It was a devastating sight to watch their reactions when the driftnets were finally dragged in after four physically straining hours of work.  The effort of ten men procured them only one crab and a couple mid-sized fish to sell at market.  Defeated they trudged into the twilight...

This is the monkey who lived at the rotting, malaria-infested bungalows we flopped in.  She was ecstatically neurotic, but you would be too living on a short chain in Bungus Beach for your entire life.  She thought this kitten was her baby and Gavin claimed to have briefly communicated with her one night.

  She groomed and loved her darling cat, but I'm afraid the love was unrequited.

This is the sunset from our final night in Bungus.  It was the best of the whole trip.  Unfortunately, we missed most of it as we were battling the thick layer of mosquitoes covering any piece of exposed flesh. 

There is one reason to visit this part of the world, the isolated isle of Pagang, an hour boat trip down the coast.  Think of the ideal tropical beach and your description should match up.. but we'll save that for another post. 

1 comment:

Carol said...

I loved the way they displayed all the dishes on the table by stacking them and the "D" looked amazing.