West Sumatra is one of the most beautiful areas of Indonesia.
It is mountainous and divided by three valleys. There are lovely
lakes and spectacular volcanoes. But Minangkabau land is very
special and has the most friendly population group of Indonesia.
They love to talk with visitors and will tell us about their unique
society. If a visitor tries to understand the culture and Minang
traditions he will soon feel himself a member of the clan. He
will be invited as a guest to their homes - a unique way to become
acquainted with real Indonesian life. Most of our hosts and hostesses
are English teachers so language will not be much of a problem.
They will show us the community and explain their customs.
The land of the Minangkabau, West Sumatra has a distinct culture,
which distinguishes it from the rest of the island. A land of
scenic beauty with blue green lakes and mountains, West Sumatra's
Centre of culture and tourism is Bukittinggi in the highlands,
north of the provincial capital of Padang. Most prominent in the
landscape is the horn-shaped roofs of the houses nestled in the
coconut groves. The name Minangkabau means triumphant buffalo.
It leads a community and family life based on a matrilineal system,
which clusters around mosques and the traditional houses. As it
is the women who have the properties, the men are known for their
wanderlust and entrepreneurship. Traveling is considered a mark
of success and therefore many of them are found "merantau"
(emigrated) to other parts of the country. This is proof that
many Minang or Padang restaurants, serve very spicy food, found
in all major towns in the nation. The people are hospitable and
eloquent in a poetic style of speech and ceremonies. Festivals
are colorful occasions.
West Sumatra has a coastline where the capital is situated. The
hinterland is a range of high mountains, which dip into picturesque
valleys and lakes. Amongst them are the remnants of the old Minangkabau
kingdom of Pagaruyung, (the art centers for silver, hand-weaving,
embroidery and woodcarving).