8. Mt Kerinchi

Posted: April 6, 2015 in Mountain Bike Touring West Sumatra 1998
Tags: , ,

Subandi’s home stay has just 3 guest rooms but a large cosy living room. That’ll take 6 guests in those rooms and up to 20 when high season approaches and the village is swarmed with hikers wanting to climb Kerinchi and Letter W. With room # 1 always locked I thought that we might have another guest. Mr S told a sad tale of this perpetually locked room. What else to do but exchange tales on long dark nights here while nursing a pot of hot black Sumatran coffee.

Room # 1 had a young Swedish guest who decided against better advice to climb Kerinchi alone. After a few days there was no sign of him, except for some personal effects that a search team, Mr S included, found near the summit 3 weeks later. Lost for good his family makes an annual pilgrimage to Kerisik Tuo and the mountain to pay their respects. Mr S sighed a lot when recounting as he put it a sad chapter in his life, as he felt ‘a heavy responsibility’ for that 21 year old Swede, being his guest and all. He wasn’t afraid of the repercussions from his own authorities, and there were quite a few, the usual threats to his business and trekking guide license etc etc,. Those were nothing compared to his immense burden of guilt, so much so that he neglected his family and farm to continue searching for the next few years, climbing to the peak two or three times a month, a mean feat in itself, for any sign of human remains, but to no avail.







300 mm zoom




The weather got even better on the 3rd morning as I reluctantly left the guest house. Sure the UV was high, but UV again is an alien western concept to the locals here. By now I too, was trying to adapt and forget that this far in the trip I was totally sunburnt but happy, and in life, happiness is paramount. I am also lucky in that I usually fade back to my lighter skin tone in about 14 days after any bike trip, so no wasting money on vain dark tanning lotion.

Sun block works minimally when I dont sweat it away, and yes, let’s all try sweat less cycling in the tropics, another universally alien concept. Sure I could just stay at home, but how boring would that be? Mind numbing middle class wandering in air conditioned malls.

I could look at this Mt Kerinchi all day and that’s pretty much what I did. Pulled up a chair in front of the lodge, sat and zoomed in through my telephoto lens, till I left at almost noon. Mr S brought on the good news that the next 40 kms or so was mostly downhill by a rushing river to the next town Sungei Penuh or ‘full river’ in Jambi Province. To his knowledge he has not had any guests who arrived on a bicycle, so it’s safe to assume that I was the first cycle tourist here. Yes !





I’m actually heading in the opposite direction, but turned around for this shot




The snaky downhill road to SP

I don’t recall having a photo of the legendary Mr Subandi, but if you can visualize a leaner version of guitar maestro, George Benson without too much eye shadow, that’ll be him.





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