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Back in Australia now & feeling homesick for Indonesia, Bukit Lawang in particular- such a special place in North Sumatra.

In September and October this year, I spent almost 5 weeks there and after this, my second visit, the place feels like my second home.
I had just the best time catching up with lots of people I met on my previous trip in Jan/Feb 2005, and meeting lots of new people.

This time I did not go on a trek as I had previously been on one- see photos eslewhere on this forum.

And I am very pleased to announce that Bukit Lawang is once again busy with travellers, of course no where near as busy as pre Flood, but so much busier than my last visit.
And there were people everywhere at Idul Fitri- everyone commented that it was the largest gathering of people since the flood which is so gratifying for the locals.
That pathway up to Jungle Inn was unbelievably crowded- I was amazed!!

So I guess you are wondering what did I do during this amount of time.

Well, I helped Samuel ( one of the many friends I had made on my previous trip) and his friend Mbra rebuild the house that belonged to Samuel's grandmother.
The house is situated on the way up the river towards Jungle Inn.
It is amazing to see the number of new dwellings that are popping up along the way there.
With Samuel's house they had knocked out all the walls and were replacing them with cut recycled tree branches from the river making for a very interesting house. Will post photos soon.
When I left there was still a lot more to do before the house was completed.
Samuel now has a small gallery next door where he is displaying all his coconut jewellery he makes and also renting out books to read. ( has a good selection).

Across the path from the gallery is a restaurant called Canoopy owned by Tiar and his wife, both from Aceh where I had some good meals.
They also have two rooms upstairs for rent at 25,000/night with great views of the river and jungle from the balcony.

Along the path from here one will find the Garden Inn with lots of accomodation and great views to the river and further along is the famous Jungle Inn with its very special Presidential Room for 150,000/night- definitely worth the money.
Jungle Inn now also have a little house built close to the river at 70,000/night- did not stay there, but it looks really romantic for a couple to stay there.

And Jungle Inn has the best food- had many lunches at Jungle Inn whilst gazing out at the wonderful scenery and watching the orangutans on the other side of the river.

Actually one afternoon at Jungle Inn it was fun and games as Za Za the orangutan came to visit and caused absolute chaos.
She had pulled herself across the river in the boat and had come for a visit.
To the two Canadians who had just arrived in Bukit Lawang they thought all their Christmases had come at once- a real live orangutan wreaking havoc.
After lots of pandemonium, Za Za was enticed by one of the rangers to accompany him back across the river and it was so funny to see this Orangutan walking hand in hand with the ranger and looking like a naughty 5 yr old.
We could not stop laughing- but that was not the last I saw of Za Za- a few days later she walked down to the new uncompleted bridge and climbed the pylon and swung herself across to where they had started to lay the wooden boards and dropped down to walk the remaining section.
Thank God someone had called one of the rangers and they met her on the other side.

Where did I stay?
I stayed at Nora's Homestay in the village of Gotong Royong.
This is the homestay I suggest to many women who wish to visit Bukit Lawang and take a trek into the Jungle.
At Nora's you can enjoy a hassle free stay and meet one of the guides I have up on my website who will take you for a very enjoyable hassle free trek into the Jungle.
Nora's now has two double rooms with their own mandi which makes for a very comfortable stay.
I just love staying there because I love being in the middle of the village and watching the day to day life of the people around me.
Nora, herself is just as lovable and crazy as ever.

She is such a funny woman and has all her guests laughing all the time.
She has been given one of the very small free houses in the new housing area for the refugees of the Flood of November 2003, so she lives there when there are no guests at the Homestay.
For the first few days of my visit to Bukit Lawang I visited Ima the blind girl ( she is in last yr's photos) I helped last year and organised a few things for her.
Then it was time to catch up with everyone from last year and meet lots of new people.
Visited Danielle's free English School in the village where Nora's sister Nani teaches English to the children survivors of the flood and took a few classes- had lots of fun with the children.
Danielle was out visiting from Ireland and we all had many enjoyable times together with the children.

For former locals of Bukit Lawang, latest news- Nani, Nora's sister married Indra in June this year and next year they will have their first child. So everyone is very excited about the forth coming birth.
I was invited to the wedding, but could not go as I had committments in West Java.

I was invited out for dinner so many nights.
Is, who used to be the cook at Nora's and now runs the free Medical Clinic for Becky from England cooked me the best dinner.
He really is the best cook, the food was superb.
I had another couple of great dinner at Nani's and many dinners at Ramis's house ( went to her wedding last year when she married Daniel).
And lots of dinners at Nora's and met up with Papa Denmark again.
He is currently putting the finishing touches to his house- you can hear him sawing the timber as you walk up to Jungle Inn- his green house is across the river.
After about a week of excitement of meeting up with people in Bukit Lawang I felt like a change of scene- a little relaxation, so I headed off to Tangkahan by ojek for a day or two, which became 5 in total.
Although the trip was a rough one- such an unbelievably bumpy road- I actually loved it because it felt like a real adventure.
I told my ojek guy to pick me up the next day- how stupid of me!
One afternoon spent walking around, with my guide Darwin, then riding an elephant for over one hour whilst he had afternoon tea tearing all the foliage far and near ( boy can those big guys eat!) and I had not even been across the river to my accomodation and I wanted to leave the next morning.
So it was a strenous climb up the hill ( no signal in Tangkahan) to sms Nora to tell the ojek guy not to come back the next day.
Five days later I returned to BL with Darwis- another great motor biker rider.

Accomodation wise, I had intended staying at Bamboo River, but as I was just me alone, and the rooms there seemed so big, I decided walk a bit further along to check out Jungle Lodge.
Sylvia the owner showed me the very first dwelling ever built on the property, a small room with double bed and mandi right on the river bank 20' above.
She quickly put up a hammock and that was my home for 5 blissful/peaceful days.
Every afternoon the Thomas Leaf Monkeys would go crashing through the Jungle nearby with their babies clinging to their bodies.
Such an incredible sight, but one that was impossible to photograph.

Sylvia is married to Alex Sitepu a former guide in Bukit Lawang and they have a beautiful 14 month old baby daughter and are currently living in Tangkahan as Sylvia is on leave from her job in Germany. So it was a special priviledge to stay there at a time when the owners are also living there and not in Germany.

Time at Jungle Lodge was spent trekking in the river with Sylvia, which included swimming, and even swimming over a couple of the very small rapids, lying in the hot sulphur springs just across from her property, being massaged by a small waterfall around the corner in a little area that looked like paradise, as well as eating the delicious family food.

One day I spent the whole day tubing down the river with Darwin, the guide and two of his friends- so relaxing. Lunch that day was on the river bank with noodles and fried rice laid out on banana leaves hacked off the near by palms.
We tubed down to Simpang Robert and then Darwin and I got ojeks( motorbike and rider) back to Tangkahan whilst his two friends caught the bus back with all the tubes.

Anyone thinking of doing this- make sure you wear a light cotton long sleeved shirt and pants and hat - it gets very hot and I got very sunburnt- even though I had been warned by Sylvia.

Back at Bukit Lawang, many nights were spent at Rock Inn chatting with fellow travellers- as there are so many these days and Bukit Lawang locals such as Genta who runs Rock Inn, Smiley, Inong, Boncel and many others too numerous to mention.
Other nights were spent at Bukit Lawang Indah or Bukit Lawang Cottages, drinking beer, and having loads of fun singing songs and just generally enjoying oneself.
Any travellers intending on coming to Bukit Lawang, if you feel like walking up around the new housing at night- do so- it is very safe and you will find all these amazing little warungs have sprung up to feed the locals and you can eat the most delicious food imaginable.
One of the guides Salim cooks the best fish and his warung is situated in the corner of the bus depot high up above the houses.
I have been known to eat fish there at 1 am with some of my friends- simply delicious.

And high up above the new housing complex is going to be an amazing building with bar etc, and maybe accomodation later on, probably will take awhile to finish- has the most amazing views over the area-I spent quite a few afternoons up there eating, drinking, singing, playing billiards and chatting with Korinna, Reskana, Romi, Uddin, Smiley, Lili and many others whose names escape me.

Another very exciting development for Bukit Lawang is that soon, maybe in February there will be Internet connection in Bukit Lawang- once again- up in the new housing area. As soon as it is up and running I will post here on this forum as I am in sms contact with the person organising it.

Other activities I was involved in, in Bukit Lawang, included helping a dying child in a medical emergency- taking him to Elisabeth Hospital in Medan in a hired mini van. Sadly he died 2 days later.

Going to Medan another time, to fly to Penang to organise a new 60 day visa- very easy for anyone considering it - flew over to Penang on the Tuesday night, applied for visa the Wednesday morning at 10 am, picked up the visa the next afternoon Thurs) at 3pm and headed out to the airport and was back in Medan by 6pm. Cost only 135 Ringgitt, compared to $160S in Singapore through an agent.
Stayed at Spoutnik in Medan-20,000/night - great place to stay- many travellers.

Caught the mini bus next morning to Bukit Lawang from near Pinang Baris- note the terminal for the mini buses is about 1 km from the actual Pinang Baris bus terminal. It is near the Mawar cake shop building.
Mini bus will usually get you to Bukit Lawang in 2.5-3 hrs whereas the big buses directly from Pinang Baris take at least 4 hrs.

Also supported a new friend who had been picked up by the police for drug dealing and visited him in Stabat jail- not a very nice experience.
My friend is still in jail and no one knows when he will be released, even though he has the evidence he did not sell any drugs on the day he is accused. So much for the justice system in Indonesia.

So my last visit to Bukit Lawang was as amazing as my first visit, probably even more so.
Probably my next visit which may not be for another 2 yrs will begin in Ketembe Aceh where I will do a 7 day overland trek to Tangkahan, with a guide Sukiman, spend a week in Tangkahan and then do the ojek trip to Bukit Lawang and spend a few weeks catching with my many friends there.

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Photos taken from my recent visit to Bukit Lawang.
There are 5 pages- see top left hand corner of page.
Here is the link to the photos from my trip in Jan/Feb 2005.

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Here is the link to a recent discussion on Thorn Tree re Tangkahan.

Will have a link to photographs of my time in Tangkahan in the next few days.

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hi pamela,
i will need of to organize a tour in sumatra for this august.. can you help me?
i'm writing to you for italy, rome.. i love too much indonesia.. and this year i come back another time..
i hope to hear you
terima kasih


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Hi Daniela,

I would be delighted to help in any way I can.
I will send you an email now ( just checked your profile) and we can get started.
I have many contacts and know lots of websites and other travellers who have websites so you can do lots of reading and together we can work out your itinerary.
terima kasih
Emoticon: Smile

User icon of JohanN
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Yesterday there was a documentary on Travel Channel about Indonesia. Subjects were Nias, Danau Toba, Bukit Lawang. Quit nice I must say.

Begin de details te vergeten

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Hi Pamela

I've recently returned to the Channel Islands after visiting Bukit Lawang. I recognise many of the names and places you mention.

Sue Gillespie, Jersey, Channel Islands

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Hi Sue,
I just posted a reply on your other post. Christa is going to send me a whole lot of photos of Bukit Lawang and I will be putting them up on my Bukit Lawang mns group I have made. You are more than welcome to join, put up some photos and also write about some of your experiences of being there.
Travellers are really interested in first hand experiences- what you did, what you ate, what treks you went on if any, what accomodation you stayed in, etc etc

Here is the link to 80 photos of Bukit Lawang taken in Jan/Feb 2005 and since May 28 2005 they have been seen by at least 30,000 viewers on webshots.
I always have the link in all the posts I make on Lonely Planet Thorn Tree.

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Hi Pamela

I have close to 800 photographs of the trip so its easier for me to just post a link to the slideshows I've created rather than upload them to webshots.

Sue Gillespie, Jersey, Channel Islands

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What a shame I do not seem to be able to see the photos enlarged. I downloaded adobe 9 to see them, but maybe I need to have braod band which I do not have.
One picture has become larger but nothing else. And this pop window asking me do I want to create my own thing is so damn annoying.
If I have missed some vital point can someone please enlightened this illiterate computer person.
Thank you in advance.

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Its probably just taking a while to download the full slideshows if you don't have broadband.

Clicking on any of the slideshows should launch a new window. Once the slideshow has downloaded fully, it should then run through all the images automatically. It only takes a matter of seconds with broadband but I imagine you might have to wait a few minutes without it. Try it and let the new window run for a while to see if it loads.

I've posted the link on my own web site and nobody seems to have a problem viewing it.

Rebecca is currently having the trust web site re-done professionally and many of the photographs from the trip will be included on that.

I have far too many images to post here and they're too large for email.

If there's something in particular you'd like to see, let me know and I'll post a few of them.

Sue Gillespie, Jersey, Channel Islands

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I just visited both tangkahan and bukit lawang. I stayed in exactly the same little lodge as described n the opening post in tangkahan. Great place indeed right at the river and in the thomas .leaf monkey trail (except then for the very brutal and noisy gekkos! :-) Had a great couple of days there, enjoyed also very much the company of eeka (the only guide that speaks a bit english) he is really committed to make something out of it, although it is not very easy) All tourists that come help supporting the eco tourism there. I think its a great idea the rates for trekkings etc. not only support the guide, but also the kampung and park so that all benefit from the tourism which prevents illegal logging and destruction of the forest..

The environment is really beautifull and kids will love the gajah (elephants) I think the combo bukit lawang-tangkahan is a great one. (i payed 100.000 for the transfer to b-lwang by ojek) Later on I stayed ingarden inn in bukit lawang, which is also a very good place to stay. Two thrustable and good guides: Sinar (had him one year ago) and Abdul (he is usually in garden inn and is also a great musician!) Other good guide I know is salim, great guy as well nd good guide, but I heared he sometimes is not all that strict in not feeding animals which would be a bad thing I guess. Prices are set from the park office. (although you are free to bargain a little)

I found it odd they changed the currency from dollats to euros this year. (why not charge in rupiah??) when the exhange rates change they will for sure change it back again! :-)

Very good tip is the trendy new place right next to jungle inn (jut before if you walk from the bus terminal), (forgot the name) The best cook in town must be Embot. A sparkling 29 yeat old lady who is great fun to talk with and a fantastic cook. Had the best meals in this place!!. Emoticon: Smile

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(or anybody helpful...)
I am new to this website but I have been reading your posts on this and other forums, and looking at all your photos - wow! You seem to know as much about Bukit Lawang as anyone else out there!
My boyfriend and I just changed our vacation plans around (okay, I did all the work) to include Bukit Lawang - it sounds like such a magical place and it will be something different - we cut out Bunaken b/c we'll be diving on 3 other islands, and it really sounds like B.L. can use our tourist dollars a lot more.
Can you please help me out by telling me how to - or possibly contacting - the Jungle Inn, to make a reservation? We sent an email like 6 days ago but nothing came back. Online I see like 4 different phone numbers, and I'm not familiar with int'l calling either, so I don't want to screw it up 3x before I get it right! We want to stay in that waterfall room everybody keeps talking about, from May 1 - 6, 2008. I know you're not a travel agent, but I'd really appreciate the help! Let me know....
Emoticon: Blush

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Hi Allison,
Sadly there is no internet in Bukit Lawang- the huge flood of Nov 2nd 2003 destroyed all that infrastructure and the phones have never been replaced. There was talk last year that it would happen in Feb- Mar 2007, but nothing has happened.
Bahrum who has the lease for Jungle Inn ( owned by Aussie woman and her Indonesian husband who have relocated to Australia for their children's education) has converted his Govt house from the flood into a future Internet cafe. See my photos, but nothing yet.
Bahrum can be contacted on this no. for sms or an expensive phone call to book that room His mobile is +6281370730151
Just mention you got his number from Pamela.
That room you are talking about is the Presidential Suite featured in my photos.
If you have about 3 spare days an ojek trip down to Tangkahan is really worth it- see reports above.
Funny coincidence I am just smsing one of the guides in Bukit Lawang as I write this post.
Feel free to email me at pamelajoyfugeRemoved to prevent your adress from being spammed. Click this to go to the user I am happy to help anyone with any information re Bukit Lawang or anywhere I have been to in Indonesia.
Alison- how long are you intending on staying in Indonesia?
Pamela- a passionate love rof Indonesia and her people.

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Have you all seen all the links of travel blogs about Bukit Lawang visits I have collected from the internet and posted on this forum re Bukit Lawang
It is indeed a special place- I love it there. I was planning on going back in December but have shelved my plans until next year in April/May. problem is I have so many places to revisit Java, Sumatra, Aceh, Lombok, Bali and Sulawesi and I will have to squeeze it all into a month.

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Thank yuo so much for posting. Sorry I did not see you post for such a long time, but it was still really delightful to read and brought back some grat memories.
I met Eka as well but only briefly and didn't get a photo. If you have a photo of Eka could yuo email it to me at pamelajoyfugeRemoved to prevent your adress from being spammed. Click this to go to the user
I would love to put it up in my Tangkahan photos.
Did you get to meet Mega who has a couple of bunglaows built on Jane's land now? He speaks quite good English as well.
Jane, an English woman married to Indonesian Wayan has Bamboo River accomodation at Tangkahan.

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Hi Pamela,

Just wanted to say: Thanks for sharing your travel stories on this site and your photo-blog. Very informative and very inspirational. Thank you.

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Thank you for your compliment.I am pleased you enjoyed my contribution to the forum. Pamela.

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