I've been in Padang for about a week now. It has been quite an adventure settling in, finishing the visa process and getting back into research mode. I have done a little exploring, although there is still so much to see.
One of the most interesting things I have done so far is to climb to the top of Gunung Padang (Padang Mountain -although it is really just a small hill). This is a wonderful little island, right off the beach, perfectly positioned to let you get great views of the city. So Rinanda (a student who has been helping me to settle into the city) took me to the top and we spent some time comparing a map to the view. It was a great way to get a better idea of the layout of the city!
In addition to a great view of the city, the mountain also has monkeys on the top! Indonesian monkeys are a lot more polite than Indian monkeys. Here they sit there and cry until you go buy them peanuts. Then you feed them and they start crying for more. It was quite difficult to stop feeding them since they have learned to make the saddest faces!
One of the best things I have done is sample the food. Padang is famous all over Indonesia for its spicy food. So Rinanda has taken me to try all the best stuff. I am sad to report that I agree with the tourists on Durian (that stuff really smells bad!), but I won't be too embarrassed about being an ordinary tourist since I have fallen in love with some other crazy food. Soto Padang is a soup that has a lot of ingredients. The only one that has been explained is some part of a cow, cooked in some sort of way that made me think it was bone the first time I tried it. I had to be convinced to stop taking it out of the soup! And one of my favorite drinks resembles sewer water -complete with worms! :)