12th November 2011, Saturday
We prepared to go out early to catch the earliest ferry to Samosir Island. We had our breakfast at the hotel. It was a lucky thing, Pak Wahab drove to our cottage and we managed to get our luggage into the MPV and he drove us to the breakfast place, which is on top of the hill. No need to hike! Phew!
Breakfast consists of fried meehoon and rice. After breakfast at the hotel, Pak Wahab drove us to the jetty, which is actually next to our hotel only. We could actually walk there ourselves! Since the roads are mostly one-way in Parapat, he took a big round to the jetty. He told us to wait at the jetty while he parked his car.
Patron of boat to Samosir
The fee for ferry is 4,000 rupiah per person. The journey takes an hour to reach Samosir Island. So, you get an hour to soak into the atmosphere of the lake. The lake is so vast and Samosir Island looked like an oil painting from a distance.
View of Lake Toba & Samosir Island
The moment we reached Tomok – one of the many towns in Samosir Island, we got off the ferry. Be careful when you are getting down the stairs from the upper deck of the ferry to the lower deck. I slipped and almost fell into the lake! It was a lucky thing that my cousin brother was in front of me, so he basically acted as a “stopper”. If not, I guess I would end up knocking my head on the side of the ferry or worse, fallen into the lake! LOL!
It was quite funny when my left slipper fell into the lake. The ferry guy tried in vain to get the slipper for me, so I told him it’s ok. We went hunting for a pair of new slippers for me and I had to walk bare footed for awhile to get to a shop. Haha.
Yes.. I have big feet
When we got into a shop, I tried on a few pairs of slippers. The only one that could fit me is this one pair of slipper. A closer look at the slipper, the back of the slipper is gnawed by rats! I negotiated for a discount since it’s been gigit by tikus (gnawed by rat!). The vendor reduced 900 to 26,000 rupiah! Cut throat! But then, I guess I do not have a choice since I was already half bare footed. Haha.
The tomb of Batak Kings
Here in Tomok Island, we visited the Batak Museum and the Mausoleums of the dead kings. Bataks are known to be cannibals before a German missionary landed here to convert them to Christianity. The most interesting tomb is probably the second king of Batak – where there’s a head of a person and a person right below the head who appeared to be covering his private parts with both hands. It seemed that the King has many warriors and one of the famous warrior would go totally naked when going for wars. For Batak people, showing your genitals is a taboo. Hence, the naked Batak warrior used this as his trick to subdue his enemies. A lady like figurine at the back of the coffin depicts the missus of the Batak King. She was a beautiful woman, thus had many admirers. An admirer casted a spell on her and made her insane. Hence the King couldn’t be together with her but she remained a big part in his life that he had to incorporate her being into his coffin. Admission to the museum is free whereas to the mausoleum, you just need to donate some money at the contribution box.
I would say, Batak’s handicrafts are exceptional. You could get many goods from tissue boxes to purses and bags. I really liked an oblong bag – filled with embroidery but it was too expensive for me. I remember I first saw the bag on my flight from Paris. A Caucasian lady was using it and I thought it was from Paris! It was quite eye catching and the embroidery was kinda intricate. I wish I had bargain for it! 300,000 rupiah seemed too steep for me! The last offer was 200,000 rupiah. Should have gotten it! Now I am kicking myself for not getting it!
My cousins bought some sarungs for their mom and aunts from Tomok. They used the roots of a tree which produce fragrant smell. The more you wash the sarong, the more fragrant the smell would be. I didn’t buy anything, except a shawl from a vendor who actually begged me to buy things from her. Since it was morning, it’s good to give her the business for good luck. So I just obliged. Another thing that I find quite interesting here is selling of cross (as in Christianity) as souvenirs. They also have a mini Bible as keychain – which is really cute!
On our way to Berastagi
After a short visit to Tomok, we made our way back to land to get to Berastagi, where we will get to visit the Sipiso piso waterfall and the two volcanoes – Sinabung and Sibayak.
Along the way to Berastagi, we again treated ourselves to magnificent view of Lake Toba. The people of Lake Toba mainly dabble on agriculture and they grow food such as coffee, carrots, onions, jeruk (mini mandarin oranges!), strawberries, ferns and the list goes on. I asked if Luwak coffee is from here too? Pak Wahab said yes. They would rear civet cats in their farms and let them eat the coffee beans from the trees and harvest their stools! I don’t understand why coffee tastes better when it comes from a civet cat’s ass. LOL! I think the only time I had coffee luwak was when we were in Bali and also Hanoi.
Before reaching Sipiso piso, Pak Wahab dropped us at a restaurant nearby for a short tea break. We had some ginger tea and pisang goreng (Banana fritters). The pisang goreng comes free with each ordered cup of ginger tea. I didn’t really like the ginger tea because it was too strong for me!
Sipiso piso waterfall
Sipiso piso waterfall is the main supplier of water to Lake Toba. According to Pak Wahab, this is the end of Lake Toba – where the water of the lake originates from. The water has been streaming for centuries perpetually. Hopefully it would remain this way! The life of the people and creatures surrounding the lake solely depends on this waterfall alone!
We could hike down the stairs nearer to the waterfall but I was simply too lazy! So we just took photos from the top. It was a good thing that we ventured to the opposite side of the waterfall, where we get to view another perspective of Lake Toba! It was breathtakingly beautiful!
Breathtaking view of Lake Toba
There was an abandoned building next to the beautiful view. How we wish that someone would actually maintain this place – perhaps make it into a restaurant with a view and make a killing charging visitors! If I were rich, I would probably buy up this place and make it into an exclusive hotel & spa, using water from the waterfall!
We made our way to Gundaling, where we would be in the middle of two volcanoes. The name Gundaling was short form of Goodbye, Darling. It seems that, there was a Dutch man in love with a local woman. Then he had to return to his country, so he bid his girlfriend goodbye, as in goodbye darling at this place. So the local named the place, Gundaling – after Goodbye, Darling. Haha. Don’t know how true lah!
Sinabung exploded just last year in August 2010 after 400 years! I didn’t even remember this! Anyway, Pak Wahab showed us that the side which is white in color is due to the eruption. On the other side – is Sibayak Volcano, a smaller volcano compared to Sinabung.
Berastagi is the small town sandwiched between the two volcanoes. From Gundaling, you may view the town of Berastagi and its many agricultural plots. I simply love the view! The small houses look like lego sets.
Taman Alam Lumphini
After that, we were taken to Taman Alam Lumphini. This is the new temple, I believe it’s a collaboration between the Indonesian and Nepalese government. Since the place is still new, it was quite well maintained. The inside of the hall is yet to be fully decorated and there weren’t many visitors when we arrived. Admission is free.
We were somehow very attracted by the ferns plantation surrounding the temple. All along, I thought ferns are harvested from the wild. I didn’t know it is also planted as food! I think our home grown midin in Sarawak is from the wild, I guess!
After the short visit to the temple, we were on our way back to Medan. By the time we had our lunch, it was already 4 pm. We were famished! It was a lucky thing that I brought along a chocolate bar, otherwise I would be gnawing on my tikus gigit slipper!
The journey back to Medan was not very pleasant. The road was filled with potholes and winding. I was a little worried that I might vomit my late lunch out but sleepiness took over and I slept like a log on the way down, occasionally jolted up from sleep from potholes but soon drifted back to sleep like nothing has happened! It’s a blessing that I could sleep anytime, anywhere, anyhow! (That doesn’t mean I am a slut!)