I’d read a snippet about Abdi Homestay, in the Harau Valley, in our Lonely Planet guidebook, read some TripAdvisor reviews and decided to go – it sounded amazing and it certainly exceeded our expectations.
The drive from Padang to the Abdi Homestay was bad – we had an absolute maniac of a taxi driver who liked to overtake anything and everything, even on blind corners. He also had his right indicator permanently on which, after 4 hours, got incredibly annoying. Luckily, we arrived safe and sound, but feeling a little travel sick.
Abdi Homestay is in the stunning, rural Harau Valley, nestled amongst huge sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, endless rice paddies and lotus ponds. We stayed in two little huts with a veranda, hammock, mosquito net and bathroom, overlooking the paddies for only 75,000 IDR (£4) each a night. Mine & Ste’s bathroom had a hornet’s nest and no shower, but luckily we could use Emma & Sam’s one. We were greeted by Rinal, a local twenty-two year old who loved Manchester United. His English was amazing and we hung out for the afternoon, playing cards and chatting.
We ate dinner at the homestay and it was probably the best food we’d eaten in Indonesia! We told the staff that we were vegan and within a few hours we had an absolute feast of tasty, flavoursome curries, vegetables, salads and rice for dinner. For breakfast, they even made our pancakes vegan by using tapioca flour, water, bananas and cinnamon sugar – delicious!
The following day, we went on a guided trek of the countryside and jungle, ending up at a beautiful waterfall. Rinal was a great guide – he told us so much about local cultures, food, rice production an.
In one of the rice fields, the farmers taking a break called us over, offered us fried banana and wanted us to take a photo with them. They were all really friendly and had their laughter was infectious.
In one of the little villages, we got to try some delicious brown sugar in solid and liquid form.
We trekked through the jungle, over a hill to reach a clear, cooling waterfall which we swam in. After cooling off, we had a delicious lunch of noodles, veg & peanut sauce. Rinal had arranged for two motor taxis to take us back to the guesthouse, along bumpy roads, passing through small villages, jungle and we even saw some monkeys.
The following day, Rinal invited us to a wedding which was taking place in his local village. We felt a bit awkward about going, but it was actually really interesting. The whole village are invited to weddings and the bride and groom, dressed in traditional clothing in a room draped with traditional cloth, stand in the room all day having photos with all the guests. The bride was wearing a heavy-looking headdress which must have been very uncomfortable. People were very welcoming and encouraged us to have photos and food. Traditionally, guests put some money in an envelope as a wedding gift and sign the guestbook – we were the first people to it. We ate rice, bamboo curry, green beans and jack fruit on the the floor of a local house, whilst comparing wedding traditions with Rinal.
After the wedding, we got a motortaxi to the nearby town, then a public bus to Bukitinggi for 40,000 IDR each.
Our stay was really reasonable – £25 each for two nights accommodation, food and the day trek. We were really sad to leave the homestay and I’d definitely love to return in the future.