It’s early in the morning when we leave Berastagi to go to Lake Toba (Wikipedia). We’re looking forward to visit this place since Helen got the recommendation to go there from Eric, the french guy, she met in Kuching/Borneo. It is the biggest volcanic lake on earth. With its impressive 100 kilometer length and 30 kilometer width it must be stunning. There is a humongous island in it with several villages on it. The traditional tribe there are the Haka (Wikipedia).
We’ve chosen to travel again like the locals. This means we have to take three different busses and a ferry today. The guesthouse gave us a plan which busses we have to take. First a small local mini bus from the Berastagi to Kabanjahe just some kilometers South. Next we change to a bus to a city called Pematangsiantar in the East. Suddenly at a crossing the driver tells us to leave and to change again to Parapat at Lake Toba. We’re a little surprised, because we are not in Pematangsiantar, but ok let’s see.
We spend an interesting hour at this crossing. There are a lots of locals around us and we can watch them while eating a delicious pineapple. A guy organizes us a shared taxi for a good price and so we skip bus number three.
Parapat is our port to Tuk Tuk, the touristic center of the island on Lake Toba. The shared taxi drops us in front of the ticket counter. The next boat is leaving in 1.5 hours. Enough time for us to grab a coffee and to have some Nasi Goreng (fried rice). It’s even enough time to buy a ripe papaya at the nearby market. We love these fruits!
Finally it’s time for the boat. A young boy is coming to pick us up. Unfortunately seems like kind of a child work… and also he boat looks like it’s best days are a decade ago. Fortunately it’s just a big lake and not the open sea 🙂 Rain is coming from the other side of the lake, wind and the waves moving slowly towards us. I love watching this.
The ride takes only half an hour. It’s common here to be dropped at the hotel you are staying. We didn’t book on and jump off the boat just at one of them.
My first task on the island is to search for an accommodation. Helen is watching our stuff and I’m walking along the coast. While walking around I notice how empty it is. There are so many guesthouses and hotels but so less people. Interesting! I think that gives me a good position for bargaining. I walk into eight different accommodations and check the prices. At the end we decide to take a room at the Gokhon Guest House (Google Maps Link). A really nice and clean place for a fair price. Helen loves it at first sight.
They have scooters at the guest house and so we rent one. On our first evening we go for the next supermarket. We like the area a lot. It’s quiet and everything is well maintained. There are cute little restaurants at the street and nicely designed batak style houses everywhere. It reminds us a little on Bukit Lawang.
Next morning we take the scooter and follow the road south west. The weather is fine and the views are incredible. The lake is so big that it looks more like a huge bay at the sea. The combination of the green rain forest, steep coastlines and the green water of the lake are amazing. First we stop at a waterfall we found on maps.me. It turns out to be a small but magnificent one. We want to see more, so we go on. A rock marked as a sight is our new target. We pass one village after the other. Some are looking quiet traditional, other are modern.
A big christian church catches our attention in one of the villages. I climb up the tower and take some photos up there. After coming back down a guy drives up the way with his motorbike. He greets us and we start chatting. He starts talking about some bottles he found and at first we don’t understand anything. It turns out, that he found two old dutch liquor bottles. We research the value of them and the result makes him happy. He directly tries to sell them to us, but heavy bottles is the last we need.
After this little episode we don’t find the rock we wanted to visit and end up at a small restaurant. A bunch of men are playing ludo (German: “Mensch aergere dich nicht”). Never expected to see this game here!
Finally we find the rock. It’s nice but the real big thing happens on our way back. We are following the same road back we came from. On the way here I noticed a lot of parking cars and taxis at the entrance of a village. Now after passing the second time there are still a lot of cars and I can hear music. We decide that to have a look. We park the scooter and walk up a slope. It’s getting more and more crowded. The volume of the music rises and rises. The people are dressed traditionally. We end up in the middle of a batak village with far more than one hundred people sitting, standing, singing and dancing. A young man approaches us. He explains that this is the funeral of his aunt and that we are welcome to join them. It’s awesome! The relatives of the aunt are standing on one side and are wearing special cloths. All the others are sitting and standing around. They perform different dances and ceremonies to pay respect and to help the relatives. But even if it is a funeral, the atmosphere is very happy and easygoing. It’s more like a party then a sad event.
The nephew invites us to eat something and leads us into one of the houses. Some older women and some kids are welcoming us with a big smile. I get a big plate full of delicious buff and an even bigger plate of rice. While I’m eating Helen starts dancing and laughing with one of the ladies. Everybody is just smiling. That’s the real reason for travelling.
After some time we decide to better leave. We attract so much attention, that we get the feeling that we distract the people completely from the funeral. Happy and feeling blessed we are taking our scooter and drive back to our guest house.
The next day is a bit calmer. Helen unfortunately got sick over night and has some feaver. I use the time to work on the computer and to care for my beloved wife…