has set himself a task: to find Indonesia's most liveable province/city/town/village. He has set various "subjective" criteria, which are roughly what I have chosen for myself.
Yes folks, Jakartass wants to move to Lubuk Sikaping
in West Sumatra. A good friend is slowly developing Hotel Rimbo
which is no more than two kilometres from the centre of town, yet is situated literally on the edge of primary rainforest. There is wildlife aplenty, including yellow gibbons, honey bears, wild boars and at least one tiger.
I offer the following comments for Oigal to cogitate.
1. Tolerant and FPI
(and assorted other nutters) free
Probably. Shortly after the Bali bombs went off, I was up there and the provincial chief of police told the town's chief of police to look after me and Paul ~ the only two westerners in town. He said, "There are no terrorists in my area
2. Progressive Schooling
I understand that a National Plus school is shortly to open.
Absolutely. If you see any litter, it looks so out of place that the instinct is to pick it up. The air is so fresh that you get a brain wash.
4. Adherence to basic rule of law
Definitely, possibly a little too stringent with all overnight guests submitting photocopies of their passports to the local police.
5. Beach/Mountain vistas
Look at the banner on the Horel Rimbo site. This is the view from 100 metres up the lane, from the land where I hope to open up Camp Rimbo, a Children's Jungle Study Centre. The coast, totally undeveloped and rarely visited, even by surfers, is about 2 hours drive away. There are a few islands offshore which hold out the promise of diving trips.
6. Access - roads, rail, airports
Planes to Medan or Padang, then buses along the Trans Sumatra Highway which runs through Lubuk Sikaping. Direct coaches (ALS) from Jakarta and Medan. Bukittinggi is probably the nearest 'westernised' town, an hour south on the other side of the Equator.
Lubuk Sikaping is the seat of the regency and therefore has wide boulevards. A weekly market is to the north of the town on the 'bypass'.
8. Traditional as opposed to imported culture
Mandailing and Minang cross-fertilisation. This means gardens and great music. I suspect the only imported culture will be the 'international cuisine' and Bintangs at the hotel.
9. Friendly, open society
The people are polite, considerate, generally interested in and supportive of the venture. As in most rural communities, everyone seems to know what everyone else does, but I have yet to find this over-intrusive, unlike experiences back in the UK.
NB. Nick of Bali Blog
offers his perceptions of the best places in Bali; surprisingly, he rates Kuta slightly higher than Ubud. But then we probably seek different things.