Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Searching for menhirs in Mahat

The regency of Lima Puluh Kota is renowned for its megalithic stones. They don't know much about these stones, and they aren't exactly being preserved in any meaningful way, as many are just by the roadside or in fields. It is thought that this fertile valley had the earliest civilisation/settlement of the 3 regencies in Minangkabau, but what these stones were for is still rather a mystery.I asked at my homestay, and a tour was organised for me to the remote valley of Mahat. Mahat is a bowl shaped valley, deep in the Bukit Barisan ranges of central sumatera, home to hundreds, possibly thousands of these standing stones. Many stand in fenced off fields, but knowledge about them is scarce.
The trip is long, about 2 hours each way by motorbike on poorly maintained roads. But the views are astonishingly beautiful. I doubt they see many westerners by the look of consternation on the faces of two young boys whose photos I took. My guide hadn't been to see the menhirs himself, so it was a voyage of discovery for both of us. The locals were of course very friendly and it was no trouble finding what we were looking for.
Along the way we saw some ingenious waterwheels, made entirely of bamboo, raising up water to irrigate the nearby rice fields. And we hit a few waterfalls on our way back - I may shortly be in waterfall overload!!

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