Kerinci Straits National Park is 200km south of Padang. Alex, a young chap from Reno, USA who'd decided to join me for some volcano climbing, and I headed down there in a rented car. Up into the mountains and along winding roads to our destination on the Karu Ayo plateau 5 hours later.
The plateau is at an elevation of 1400m above sea level and is home to the largest tea plantation in the southern hemisphere. It literally stretches for miles in every direction and it employs most of the people there. Watching the workers head off to the fields with their sacks, gumboots and conical hats while enjoying a spectacular view of the huge volcano in the background was a regular part of every morning spent there. Seeing them return laden with clippings and trudging home exhausted in the evenings makes you realise just how hard they have to work.Bullock carts are still a feature here, particularly for those working the vegetable fields further up the slope of the volcano. If it wasn't for the continuous traffic in minivans, trucks and motorcycles going along the road, you could almost convince yourself you were back a hundred years.