food people

canyon walk

the next day we went down the sianok canyon that we looked upon from the panorama spot the day before. it is amazing how close to the city the life of the village there is seemingly unaffected.

after leaving the village and making some warm up moves at a volleyball net, we quickly found other players from the local school.

one of the students was first following us like a stray dog, but after he shook off his nervousness, he switched to being our guide.

we had to cross the river and as it was so nice to walk in the shallow water, we strolled along.

we ended up at some village up the mountain and went looking for a place to get lunch. we found a stall offering gado gado, the indonesian version of salad with a delicious peanut sauce. most food is quite spicy and in most restaurants you will find sambal, a chili paste which tastes good with almost everything. we enjoyed some bakwan with it, one out of many deep-fried items to get on the streets. on our way we had already seen where the chili for the sambal comes from.

it feels a bit like in the alps, or at least as close as it gets on sumatra. the climate is a lot cooler on 1000 meters above sea level and the scenery with the surrounding mountains and local villages is perfect for a walk.

on our way back we stopped at a bridge over the river to watch the nightly fly from the fruit bats along the canyon. it starts with a single one until it is a constant stream of thousands flying past the darkening sky.

just after the bridge we received a friendly smile quickly followed by an invitation to the house of  a local family which pampered us with tea and bananas. despite the language barrier we entertained ourselves for a half an hour without too much difficulties.

food locations


i took the bus as the traffic was slightly mad and sumatra is too big to cycle entirely with just one month of visa and plans to visit other parts of indonesia as well. i arrived during the night some five kilometers outside town at a typical bus stop. as it was raining and i didn’t know if i could check into the hotel at that time, i stranded there for a while and had some tea and coffee while a tv was showing the soccer match between sweden and the netherlands. at 5 o’clock i cycled into town, checked in and immediately went to sleep. karin, whom i met couchsurfing on penang, arrived some hours later and we just tried to get over the sleepiness from the bus ride.

the next day we explored the city. bukittinggi itself has not much to show for and it is rather the surroundings that attracts tourists. still it is nice to walk over the market, try out some new things and snack ones way through the day. for desert we ended up at a martabak stall and watched while it was prepared.

we chatted with another customer and changed our order to her recommendation: corn, cheese and chocolate. sounds unusual? it tastes great! even though we shared it, we easily skipped lunch and had just a lite dinner. remember lembas, the bread of the elves that gives you enough energy for a long time even if you eat little of it? wonder if tolkien ever visited indonesia?!

we were told about a panorama spot and the bus line going there. but when we asked one of the drivers, he told us we could easily walk there in 5 minutes. just some hundred meters away and totally unexpected, the city ends at the sianok canyon.

some monkeys populate the view point and get by with what the tourists feed them. but they don’t neglect a cool drink either.

the sunset was colourful…

and sometime later a parade of flying foxes moved along the canyon from their sleeping spot to their dining places. we met a nice guy from one of the souvenir stalls taking his time to tell us about the canyon, the culture of the villages there and on our way home we were given a small introduction into herbalism. cinnamon, lemon and mint, everything growing just along the path. he recommended to take a walk down the canyon and along the river to some villages on the other side.

locations people


just across the strait of malacca lies dumai, the port on the indonesian side. with the fast ferry the crossing takes just over two hours. i applied for a visa on arrival as i could not apply for a visa up front without a ticket out of the country.

i had a bad time at the immigration office ending with the officer in charge threatening me to send me back to malaysia as i refused to pay more than the us dollar equivalent of the visa fee in rupiah, which turned out to be a 20 percent surcharge. i got the visa eventually but felt quite battered after the argument. i didn’t had such trouble with the immigration procedure since i don’t know when. a new country is always challenging and the last thing you need is such a mess as a welcome party. my plans to go on cycling where soon put to a test as a guy on the exit reminded me of mr. muchsin’s english school from which i heard over warmshowers, a hospitality club for cyclists. it’s a private school which invites foreigners to talk to the students. in return mr. muchsin offer those travellers a place to stay. i decided to have a look and had a pleasantly different welcome there.

i talked with four classes. it was challenging every time to get their attention, to get a feel for their skills, to speak slowly and to keep them entertained. i was too busy answering their questions to think about getting my camera, so just a photo of the empty classroom:

it felt good to stand in front of the students. the board helped a lot to guide through the lessons and the pen to hold on to something. or to do a supportive drawing.  every class was different from another as were the students within. some where just there because their parents wanted them to learn english. they mostly occupied the last row and, like back in my days in school, there is an agreement that the teacher does not bother them and in return they don’t bother everyone else. but the majority was encouraged enough to get the class going….

mr. muchsin started this school 20 years ago to improve the english skills of the people, as it is not widely spoken in indonesia. from time to time he spices up his lessons with excursions into politics and is trying to raise social awareness among his students.

one of his students took me around town and helped me to find a good map of sumatra and some fine food. there is a lovely vegetarian restaurant not far from the school, offering chinese cuisine and for cyclists i can recommend martabak. something like a thick pancake filled with coconut, peanut or chocolate. mmh, maybe not just for cyclists…

locations people


malacca became UNESCO world heritage site in 2008 along with georgetown of penang. with a long colonial history, first the portuguese then the dutch, the city has many buildings left from these days in the historic centre. the city draws its charms from that colonial history combined with the influence of the peranakan, a term mostly used for the chinese immigrants during the colonial era along the strait of malacca.

the st. pauls church on the hill bearing the same name.

the dutch square with christ church and the stadthuys is the central place of the old city.

over two hundred bicycle taxis are rolling through these streets. most of them equipped with a sound system which would fill a stadium with sound. because of the tough competition, the drivers compete for the flashiest vehicle in town.

i had a recommendation for a guesthouse run by a bunch of nice guys. with sometimes unconventional methods of reaching their goal.

if you are wondering what these two gentleman are doing, they are trying to clean the pool with that vacuum cleaner. the fish were caught from the canal which you may be able to see through the back door.

sitting at this canal is especially nice in the evening hours or at night.

these were really lazy days. sightseeing on the first day, the rest of the time was spent with, well, it was spent eventually. i decided to skip singapore and bought a ferry ticket directly to sumatra.


radio interview

DasDING Interview (in german)

the interview was broadcasted on september the 12th.

the song ‘mystique’ was played but is not included in this file. you can listen to it in full length here.

music people travel

the east coast

back on the coast means one less thing to worry about: the shower in the evening. i’d rather be salty from the sea than from my own sweat. i camped again after asking at a nearby restaurant if it would be okay.

it turned out to be run by lovely people. i had a tasty vegetarian dish and since there is usually a little hunger left after a meal, roti canai is the perfect way to get that cleared.

after finishing the roti, the cook  got his small electric drum kit and some friends together and soon we were jamming with ccr and eric clapton through the night.

food and drinks were on the house, i left my album and with the music still in my ears, i was leaving with the feeling everyone went home a richer man this night.

i continued the next morning never too far from the shore and the next swim. i didn’t stop too often and maybe it was just good to know that i could jump into the sea anytime i wanted to.

wouldn’t it be for the heat, the self-made football fields along the way would be also inviting. we could have another swim as celebration of a goal!!

at night i switched back and forth between camping and low budget places. one was outstanding. run by an old chinese couple which spoke no word of english. they occupied one of the rooms which is decorated like a temple. the hotel looked in some corners more like a wooden booth than a house and the smell was, well, ancient. travelling back in time at the medo hotel in dungun.

next destination: malacca.

food travel

chasing the rain

after a week in penang, it was time to leave… rather wanting to keep moving than wanting to leave. i cycled back into georgetown and arrived at the pier just before it started to rain.

there are a couple of boats which shuttle between penang and butterworth. it’s the oldest ferry service in malaysia and operates since 1920.

once on the mainland, it is a unpleasant drive out of butterworth. i didn’t feel save within all the traffic and passing an accident with an unmoving body of a scooter driver lying on the street didn’t help to shake off that feeling. but after a while there is a separate lane for small two wheelers and it felt a lot better with just an occasional scooter passing by. the rain was becoming more and more intense as i was not only riding towards kulim but also towards a blackish clouded sky ahead. it was every day a challenge. after some time the rain and i agreed on a compromise. one day i caught some rain and on the other the rain caught me.

i checked into a homestay, which in malaysia is rather a form of hotel with a/c and tv. as there wasn’t much to do in the evening, i just checked the further route  to the east coast.

even though i had a big day of cycling ahead of me from gerik, i just couldn’t get myself to get up early enough. it was going uphill for the most part of the day and soon it became obvious that i would have to camp as i would not make it to the next town. i arrived at the top in the evening and was soon surround by a class from the perhentian islands who wanted to take a picture with me. they later helped me to translate when i asked if i could pitch up my tent for the night. the people from the restaurant there were very friendly and agreed. i even got a shower and was ready for dinner. i don’t know when i had a burger the last time. mine turned out to be a folded omelette. it was quite a messy affair with all the ketchup and mayonnaise they squeezed inside. made me wonder why this thing became so popular. the rest area was a busy place and i felt quite happy about the company as i expected a lonely campsite for the night and i am kind of in a social mood lately.

in the evening the sunset was again cut short by an approaching storm. which bathed the scenery in a peculiar light…

and provided a good lightning show at night. that was a very short one, as my camping spot was also a favourite with trucks which came in during the night. so i had a running engine around me most of the time. well the next morning i just had to roll downhill and the lack of sleep didn’t matter that much. i made it to tanah merah and looked forward to get to the sea again the following day.