Visitors to West Sumatra spend most of their time based in and around the highland settlement of Bukittinggi, its cultural heart. This is entirely understandable as it is one of the most attractive towns in Sumatra and has many places of interest in the immediate vicinity. The accommodation is good, the climate invigorating and the food excellent. The highly mobile Minang people who view this area as their ancestral home are fascinating, and the surrounding countryside is some of the most beautiful in Sumatra. There are peaceful highland lakes, like Maninjau and Singkarak, rivers for rafting and mountain treks.
In July 2008, Bukittinggi was thrust into the international limelight as Indonesian police foiled a plot by Jemaah Islamiyah to blow up the Bedual Café. The suspects, who were arrested in Palembang, claimed that the bombs had at one stage even been put inside the café. However, they realized that with the downturn of tourism in Sumatra, any attack would in fact take more Muslim lives than tourist lives, and subsequently pulled out.
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