Sumatra is the place to go if you want adventure – guaranteed. While it is true you won’t be met with the pointed spears of scantily clad natives who have a mind to serve you up for dinner, as the explorers of yesteryear were, and it’s also true that the lush rainforest is but a showdown of its former self, there is still adventure to be had – in abundance.
Sumatra is much larger than Japan – it’s about the size of Spain, and is divided into the ten provinces of Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Bengkulu, Riau, Riau Islands, Jambi, South Sumatra, Lampung, and Bangka-Belitung Islands.
Within its borders you will find the Sumatran rhinoceros – one of the most endangered animals in the word, the Sumatran Orangutan – also on the verge of extinction, and the Sumatran tiger – it too is in peril.
You will encounter Bataks – formerly a very fierce cannibalistic people – who have always had a sophisticated culture. Don’t worry! Cannibalism has been out of vogue for 200 years, so do come and enjoy their architecture, culture, arts, crafts, music, and food.
The Mentawains are another of Sumatra’s ancient peoples. They too had a very sophisticated society which was based to egalitarian ideas. Today, there is still much to behold of this traditional way of life.
Sumatra spans over 2000 km from north to south and from sea level to over 3800 meters. It has volcanoes, hot springs, lakes, rivers, and untamed jungles. It has modern cities and traditional villages. It has a history that is both rich, and tragic. Most importantly, it holds an opportunity – a final opportunity to see what is left of a former world.
Traditional Sumatra is disappearing at an alarming rate. Her rainforests are being destroyed and her native peoples are being assimilated into modern Indonesian society.
The generation reading this page will be the last to witness live, that which out ancestors will be left with only books and museum exhibits of – the authentic Sumatra.
Sumatra Food & Drink
What to expect on your plate. ‘Selamat Makan’, Bon appetite
Food from Sumatra is, spicy with a touch of spice and sprinkling of spice, needless to say there are a lot of chilies used, lemon grass, ginger, garlic and coriander. If you like to walk on the moth burning side the Padang is your dream home in the West Sumatra.
Some popular dishes are :
- Beef Randang or Rendang (dry beef curry which is quite spicy but delicious with the most tender beef pieces)
- Soto (traditional Sumatran noodle soup very similar to a Laksa with coconut milk and spices. Usually served with Ayam / chicken)
- Sumatra Chicken Curry / West Sumatran Fish Curry (colourful dishes with a fresh flavor with the combination of coriander, chilli, ginger and lime)
- Bubur jagung (a popular dessert made with corn which can be served hot or cold)
- Sambal (Indonesia chilli paste and is used in many different dishes or added to noodle soups while eating)
- Durian Sambal (an old Sumatra dish combining the unusual flavor of the Durian fruit and spicy chilies)
- Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng (an old favorite for young and old, fried rice and noodles)
- Ayam Tangkap (Achenese, a spicy chicken dish cooked without coconut milk like the Padangese food)
- Gulai Merah (Red Short Ribs of Beef)
- Bawang goreng (fried, dried onions and is used extensively for garnishing Indonesian food like Nasi goreng or soups)
- Ayam Kacang Bukitinggi (Peanut Chicken)
- Ayam goreng (fried chicken is traditional all over Indonesia but especially tasty in Sumatra)
- Gulai Daun Singkong Tumbuk (Grilled Fish with Green vegetables)
- Gulai Merah (Red Short Ribs Of Beef)
- Rujak (Pungent Fruit Salad)
To wash it all down try….
Sumatra is the cultural and emotional home of Kopi Luwak, Coffee Luwak, the world’s most expensive and tasty coffee. Where does it come from and why is it so special you may ask? Are you sure you want to know? Let me introduce you to the Paradoxurus, that’s the scientific name, Indonesian’s call them luwaks. Little mammals that live in the trees, and it just so happens they love red, ripe coffee cherries. They eat the cherries, and the rest is biology. Through a chemical reaction in the luwak’s stomach it fermentations. It then passes through the digestive system, and exits. The beans is then collected by the most under appreciated and loved person in the working world. Then cleaned, roasted and packaged to find its way to your breakfast table.
This all produces a coffee that is like no other. With a rich, heavy flavor with hints of caramel or chocolate and with undertones of earthy musty and exotic aromas.
How to make a perfect cuppa the Indonesian way…
Step One : a heaped spoonful of ground coffee in a cup. Step Two : add boiling water with no filtering process. Step Three : leave to allow the coffee to sink to the bottom of the cup. Step Four : Enjoy the very gritty texture and feel the kick. For those with a sweet tooth add some condensed milk which then makes the coffee extremely sweet.
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