West Sumatra, the land of the Minangkabau, is a ravishing equatorial region with cool enchanting highlands, rising from dense, luxuriant jungles. The province is 42 297 square km. It has a population of approximately 4 203 000 people of which 95% consists of the Minangkabau ethnic group. The remaining 5% is of mixed origin.
West Sumatra is the homeland of the Minangkabau people with their unique matrilineal society, which passes property and wealth down along the maternal line. A unique system which has been maintained up to this very day, and is found nowhere else in Indonesia.
West Sumatra has a tropical climate. Temperatures range from 26 to 29 degrees °C along the coast, and can be 20 degrees lower in the mountain areas, so bring some warm gear if you plan to hike to the mountains. West Sumatra has heavier rainfal than the rest of the island, an average of 310,6 cms annually.
Bukittinggi is the second largest town in the province and the centre of tourism, about 92kms from Padang or two hours drive from Tabing Airport. The road to Bukittinggi passes between two volcanoes: Mount Merapi and Mount Singgaland. The town is located at 930 metre above sea level, so it has a cooler climate.
The Minang Big Houses which can be seen in the countryside around Bukittinggi have distinctive roofs with a print at each end. The centre of Bukittinggi is the Jam Gadang built by the dutchman Bookmaker in 1827. The clock tower serves as an elegant landmark for Bukittinggi’s centre. Minangkabau design is evident in the buffalo horn design on the top of the clock.
The Sianok Canyon on the west side of the town is easily accessible for hikes and picnics. The canyon walls rise 100 to 200 metres above a small river which winds through the green floor of the canyon. One of the most pleasant aspects of the canyon are the two volcanoes, Merapi and Singgaland, brooding in the distance.
Need idea about Bukittinggi? The Lonely Planet site has excellent travel information.