Bukit Lawang, Indonesia

Medan is the third largest city in Indonesia and most tourists visit the city not for any of its own attractions (it’s a very rough city – industrial, polluted, noisy…), but because it has an international airport and it is close to several of Sumatra’s best destinations, including, arguably, its top two.  Bukit Lawang is one of those.  It is home to “Taman Nasional Gunung Leuser” where people go trekking in search of orangutans.

Bukit Lawang - Becak 1The becak is a common form of public transportation
in Indonesia.  We used it to get from our hotel in Medan
to the minibus that would take us to Bukit Lawang.

Bukit Lawang is only about 50km away from Medan, and yet it takes a good 4 hours to get there.  Why?  Well, some of the roads are in decent condition, but some stretches rival what we’ve experienced in Mongolia.  Potholes aren’t exactly an appropriate term anymore when the area covered by the potholes exceeds the area of paved road.  The ride is bumpy and long.  And in our case, hot and crowded too – think about 18 people crammed into a minibus that is designed for maybe 11 or 12, no air-conditioning of course, and locals who, for some unknown reason, don’t like to travel with the windows open.

Bukit Lawang - Becak 2Here we are enjoying our first becak ride, still in Medan.

The long trip was worth it though, as upon arriving at Bukit Lawang, we were greeted by a small village right on the river and nestled in the middle of the jungle.

Bukit Lawang - JenJen and I took a little stroll up river.

Bukit Lawang - Chicken FightingBack at the village, some children were playing in the
river while their mothers washed clothes and bathed
their little siblings – apparently chicken fighting is a
universal water sport practiced by children around the

Besides the main attraction of the orangutans, Bukit Lawang is a nice place to spend some time because of the peaceful atmosphere.  As Jen liked to put it, “this place has a good vibe.” 

Bukit Lawang - JeffHot and humid, we put our feet in the river to cool
down and watch the locals go about their daily
routines – washing clothes, bathing, playing games.

Bukit Lawang - BridgeThe bridge that we crossed many times throughout our stay.


~ by dawseng on July 7, 2009.

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