In Berastagi, Niki immediately signed up to climb Mt. Sinabung, the taller and more sinister of the two local volcanoes. This time, we wised up and actually hired a guide, which is highly recommended in the guidebook and at the hostel, as they have a list of hikers that have absconded or perished whilst on the volcano. In the village at the base of the volcano, we chanced upon a wedding party, which basically consisted of two groups of people facing each other and the bride and groom’s group doing a little dance towards the other group. They were on “stage” for about 30 seconds and then it was done. The women were dressed up in ornate hats and all had red-stained teeth from the ubiquitous betle nut that they love chewing so much in this part of the world.
Our hike started out on a dirt road winding between cabbage fields and as we climbed, the view was just stunning. Then, we turned off the dirt road and for the next two hours, climbed straight up – at most points we were scrambling on all fours to get up. It was difficult, but we were rewarded with the strong smell of sulphur at the top. So, we had some fried rice for lunch and then went exploring the top. We saw some spewage – bright yellow sulphur emanating from within. The air was full of a sulphur-y chalk and very harse on the lungs and eyes. We climbed to the tippy-top and then headed straight down – again, mostly on all fours. We’re glad we had a guide, as we actually made it to the top of the volcano and we didn’t die! We drove back to town on the top of the taxi – that seems to be the way to travel around here, since we did it in Bukit Lwang after tubing as well. It’s quite fun – all the locals love it when they look up and see some foreigners on top, and it’s way more comfortable than sitting inside the tiny bus/taxis.
Ric and Monique stayed back, but we had our final dinner with them. After nearly 3 weeks of traveling together, the 4 of us sadly parted ways. Fortunately, we’ll meet up with them in Bali again in about 2 weeks. Niki and I then hopped on a local bus. Holiday season was ending today (it’s Sunday), so all the buses were jam-packed. We sat on an 18-inch bench in the doorway. Pretty much the whole ride, I was touching 6 people and we had 6 of us in the doorway the entire 2.5 hour ride – we were lucky enough to sit, but everyone else just hung out the door.
In Medan, we wandered around and went to the mall – it’s always fun checking out how people live their everyday lives in other countries. We stocked up on toothpaste, candy and other essentials. Then, we went to the top floor where there was basically an indoor amusement park. We were as much part of the entertainment for the locals as were the rides. The best part was when we were on the roller coaster – which was totally not scary, but there was a power outage in the middle of the ride and it definitely made the kiddie roller coaster more fun. And now we’re heading to Bali. I’m definitely excited for some R&R, some $4 massages, changing up my wardrobe a bit and checking out this oft-raved about paradise that is Bali.