Thursday, September 20, 2012

Selamat Datang Di Danau Maninjau!

Lake Maninjau proved to be one of the oddest places we traveled to.  The Minangkabau people living in the communities ringing the lakeside were generally guarded, serious, and non-engaging.  The water was thick with aqua-culture chemicals yet simultaneously refreshing like a childhood watering hole.  Our days, long and languid, were spent sprawled across well-manicured lawns in the sun reading weathered novels or setting up mini-photoshoots with the tiny snails that littered the beach and lake.   

This unidentifiable mollusk appears to be from outerspace.

This cat had the temperament of an angel, but was ravenous.  This quintessential runt of the litter had a rough time of it as her larger siblings would outmuscle her and quickly devour the baitfish that fisherman tossed on the shore after an afternoon on the lake, leaving her with slim-pickings and a hungry mewl.

The small part of the coastline we stayed on was thankfully clear of aqua-culture farms.  Beginning in the early 1990's, fish-farming was introduced to supplement locals' income (farming and the trickle of tourism are the other major industries). 

Most of the young men in the area spend their days hauling, bagging, and shipping tilapia fish that are raised in the ubiquitous karamba, the floating cages shown below.  Twenty years on, the antibiotics and waste from the farms have polluted the lake's once-pristine waters and left the water greasy and thick on most beaches and inlets.

The rich forests surrounding the lake are used for rice farming and fruit-tree gardens on the lower slopes.  Thick montane forest begins soon after and continues to the edge of the caldera.  We took a hike through the forest to a waterfall.

We also drove about a quarter of the way around the lake one day.  With rough roads and increasingly angry skies, we embraced prudence and turned back - avoiding a repeat of our Lake Toba incident.

The twin pillars of industry.  A modest rice paddy stretches to the water's edge, where an aqua-culture farm hovers on the glassy surface.

 There's no doubt that Danau Maninjau provided some of the most breathtaking views of our trip.

I loved the architecture in the area: predominantly wooden houses with lots of windows and stained glass.

And we were blown away by the beauty of the local mosques, completely unique and distinctive.

Another Padang-style meal.  They certainly get this right in Maninjau!

Enjoying spicy sambal and palai rinuak, a small local fish.

Danau Maninjau is in West Sumatra about 40 km northwest of Bukittingi.  The nearest international airport is a few hours to the south in Padang.

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