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Travel Guide > Asia > Indonesia > Sumatera Barat > Padang Panjang

Padang Panjang Sports & Activities

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Padangpanjang is a university town and houses the high profile and growing Arts Academy STSI, and there are often performers rehearsing or who know of late night village gigs you can find out about if you hook up with some of the local or foreign students there. Either contemporary or traditional performing arts not on the tourist books. If you are around for a while you might even do a deal on some flute or drum lessons. Be sure to cross their palm with silver for their efforts - they are struggling professional artists and students with exams and festival commitments. The tiny cafes around the campus can sometimes prove fruitful for meeting artists. There is also a private library/drop-in centre for performing arts resources if you have such an interest, on Jl Puti Bungsu, where Indra Utama will be able to direct you to more cultural resources. 

Scenic Tours by horse and cart

If you go to Padangpanjang market you can charter a horse and cart called a bendi (in other parts of Indonesia these are often poor runty ponies but some of the horses used here are racing horses working between seasons so you can and should choose a strong well-fed beast to lug your great body around!)

So, either work out a fee for a period of time (eg: "satu jam" means 1 hour; satu-setengah jam means 1 and a half)or just wing it and ask the driver to take you round-about mau jalan-jalan keliling. Ke mana he will say (where) and just say ke sana (there) and then just point as you go - its a slow pace great way to look at life in the region - you can go out to Batipuh for example, spend about half your time and then get him to take you back to the market. It's relatively cheap and you don't really have to know where you are going. You can do the same anywhere of course, for example, from Bukittinggi charter a whole day and go down into ngarai sianok. Don't expect them to go down the main highway though. If you want a faster pace charter an ojek motorbike taxi. Some are students and may speak a little English. They charge a lot more though cover more territory and you are probably in bit too close proximity to the driver if you are a woman. They have strict rules on gender protocols and hence will take a mile if a situation gives them an inch. Beware. 

Swim in a beautiful water hole

Get on a bus from Bukittinggi to Padang and get off at Simpang Lubuk Bunta between Kayu Tanam and Sicincin abt 1 hour and a bit down the road. At the turn off there is a bamboo shelter. pick up an ojek there and for a small fee equivalent to a dollar (they are unlikely to rip you off there) they will take you to the water hole lubuk bunta. This spring is the site for the local bottled spring water one of few clean bathing spots with a little waterfall and is a favorite among locals not tourists so please respect that. it is polite to approach someone there to "ask permission" even if they too are visitors. It acts as an introduction. They will be surprised you knew where to come. This is spot where male and female bathe together recreationally (most bathing spots are used in segregation to wash oneself rather than swim). Either way please don't strip off,you can swim in a sarong or shorts and t-shirt over swimmers, take your cue from other bathers. 


On your way you will pass a village called Tarok which has an interesting triple slatted bamboo stage called a laga-laga where on certain nights the men gather to practice a high art of Ulu'ambek an esoteric non-contact spirit form of martial art. If you are interested you would have to ask in the local cafe nearby for Pak (Mr) Mak Yan and mention "ulu'ambek" or "randai". These activities are seasonal and unpredictable but you might get lucky. Gigs or rehearsal always happen after nine at night so plan to come back with a chartered car or motorbike if you want to see this.

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