23th Dec Saturday – It bag packing time and we are heading to Brastagi! We were told to split our bags into 2 sets, one to bring up, the other left at home so we can pick it up on our way back tomorrow (& it beats carrying all our luggage up there too). Breakfast this time, is the beehoon version of the banana leaf breakfast we always had. Sleep felt funny, as if I had never slept but I can vaguely remember some dreams I’ve, which is a good thing as that means I’ve entered REM, no wonder I do not really feel so ‘dead’ had a bad heaty throat too but that cleared by with some throat clearing and drinking lots of water.
It was not till late morning where we made our way downstairs of sutomo where our charted bus for the day arrived – which was totally unexpected of us. Initially the plan was to travel for about an hour plus of the 3 hour journey before having lunch midway, but we had lunch in Kota instead as the Medan juvenile people arrived late, prompting us to have lunch at a nearby coffee shop (duck beehoon) where we waited.
“People here, rubber time…” as said by Lisa’s dad as he came popping around with his vitamin-c evanescence tablets as our lunch beverage, similar to that we had on our first night in Medan. Our bus trip started after meeting up and greeting the Medan juvenile volunteers on the bus. Our trip saw us making our way through different towns and cities before climbing uphill, there came our first stop for the day, the orphanage.
The scenery in the area is definitely a good break from the urban madness at home, with beautiful fir-like trees coupled with nice cool dry air. We were greeted by a burst of English architecture upon entering the compound. Something fresh and unique in a Muslim country. The place is all nicely laid out with a large big green garden at the front, with a brick red cottage/church sitting behind.
There we were welcomed by the pastor of the catholic orphanage, Bethlehem Orphanage, where we were led through the area past the animal farms, food stores into the backyard where we were greeted by a school of children and young adolescents all sitting on wood stump seats laid out nicely in the rear court yard. Its interaction time with the kids again, not to mention making balloon sculpture and figures for the kids as well, they simply love the balloons. The only problem we had was the balloons tend to burst easier in the elevated highland being more rigid, but that didn’t stop us from putting a good show and balloon making performance for the kids as a whole. The kids here all come from a very poor background, (that’s one of the requirements to be accepted into the orphanage) having lost one or both parents here is where they live, work, farm and play. Funding the orphanage is money earned from the agricultural vegetable crops and meat sold to the slaughterhouses (they keep pigs there too) are used to run the orphanage operations as a whole. Very much a very self sufficient organization I say, with the kids at heart.
The kids do understand basic English, making us rather dumbfounded trying to communicate in Malay at first, where they actually understand our English in the first place, we forgo games, given the limited space the court yard and stick to getting to know them and us better. The gathering ended with handshakes and personally issued gifts (commodity items such as sarong, etc) for everyone as whole. We were given a tour of the area by the pastor who brought us to the monkey cages, pig sty and the rabbit huts. Thereafter we were treated to tea and pastry before ending the visit with much commemorative thanks.
Overnight fellowship BBQ
We continued the journey up to the highlands passing by a few rather interesting landmarks an Aqua bottled water factory, not to mention scenery of endless green rolling hill covered by white clouds. We also tried the steamed corn served from the roadside stores during a bus pitstop – a nice smooth touch for sore throats in the highlands.
The resort is like a row of townhouses, all lined along the contours of the hilly highlands. There’s quite alot of such resorts in the vicinity, so I guess it’s a popular getaway for the locals. The lack of the BBQ pit prompted a need to build one, where we came prepared with bricks and wire meshes to construct our home made bbq pit, (not to mention after some serious engineering considerations to effectively employ bricks and wire mesh to build it & hold food, duh). Other interesting happenings are such as using the kitchen gas stove to light the charcoal (having forgotten fire starters, but then there came diesel accelerant). Then there’s my trademark chinchow dessert & Ning’s made fonde with bananas and raspberries. On top of the regular fillet, hotdogs and crabsticks. We celebrated Ann’s birthday in the wee of the night, with cheers and cake for all. Everyone on the trip also each received a souvenir Mayan pyramid each from the host as a gift. Coolies!
Luckily there’s hot water in the bath as well, with the exception of not very well maintained plumbing, bathing from a bucket of water is not that of a far cry either. Went out for midnight walk before turning in for the night, the climate is so cooling, there isn’t any air conditioning (not that we needed that at all), it’s cool to the extent of comfort and not that too cold either, it was a pleasant night.
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