Jane in Asia travel blog

The ferry across Lake Toba

First class travel !

The Batak house in which we stayed

Breakfast on the terrace

Batak traditional houses

Batak houses in Tuk Tuk on Samosir

The fish BBQ

The BBQ chef

Magic mushrooms !

Samosir Island on Lake Toba

Sunday 2nd December to Thursday 6th December

We had planned a four day stay on beautiful Samosir Island, an island in the middle of the vast Lake Toba, reminiscent of the Italian Lakes.The aim was relaxation after our energetic bursts at Bukit Lawang and the volcanoes at Berestagi. The trip across to the Island was quite remarkable we were met at the jetty before getting on the boat at Parapet and our luggage was carried down a very narrow and rickety gang plank for us, when we reached the Island 30 minutes later even before the boat had tied up our luggage was on a hand cart and taken the short distance to Horas Family Home Stay. We were really well looked after nothing was too much trouble for any of the staff.

Our hosts were Berend and his wife, Mian. Berend who was Dutch wanted to give us the benefit of his advice at least twice a day which was kind of him but not always necessary. His wife was Indonesian as were all the staff and all very nice but never intrusive.The homestay is idyllic right on the lake with it’s own jetty and we spent a happy few days walking around village of Tuk Tuk, along the edge of the lake finding lovely places to stop for lunch, beer or coffee.

On one day we did a much longer walk to an ancient Stone Chair monument where the Batak elders held court and to see a local weaver, returning by way of a rural footpath through the paddy fields, negotiating water buffalo along the way. In addition to walking, we went canoeing, had another robust and leave no muscle untouched massage. The quiet and peaceful location was a real delight. The people friendly and helpful but never harassing or persuasive. The food was delicious, fabulous fresh and unusual vegetables cooked to perfection. We also spent sometime setting up our journal as since arriving in Perth we seem to have had no spare time and already find it difficult to remember what we did.. We also had to make a decision on where to go at the end of our time in Indonesia as it was to be 5 days in Bali but we had decided that our planned beach holiday in Bali and the Gilli Islands was almost certainly too risky as we want to spend Christmas with Peter ,Sue’s son and didn’t want to risk being stuck. We looked at lots of options but decided to talk to the next set of hosts on Java as many of the options we are considering involved several flights and we wanted somewhere accessible from Yogajakarta are next stopping point if possible.

The Homestay accomodation was beautiful. We stayed in an old renovated Batak style house. I loved the Batak houses they had roofs that were like great big sails. The Island had new ones, renovated ones, ones in disrepair. Our Batak house was all old, dark wood, very well equipped with bedrooms up and and downstairs. I had a great loft room looking out across the lake.The terrace where we had breakfast every day and the garden were beautiful, the garden immaculate and provided all the food for the meals we had. There were rabbits and chickens and two dogs who roamed about and snoozed in the sun

The Batak people are an interesting group. Up until 1816 they were cannibals who ate their enemies slain in battle and also any of their own people who broke the law or who didn’t behave properly. Sounds a bit extreme even for me!!

The Horas Homestay fish barbecue deserves a mention of its own. We were persuaded into this by Berend not really knowing what we were letting ourselves in for. The fish was very fresh and cooked on the BBQ by his wife, it was delicious, but there was so much food, crayfish, talapia, chicken and pork ribs. How do you get pork in a fish BBQ. It went on for hours and hopefully the food we didn’t eat went to his staff. This was not our greatest idea as Berend our host insisted on joining us and holding court for the evening, quite how we got into this situation I am not sure, but the food was good.

The Islands have many dilapidated ferry boats painted in bright colours, they also have only a rough operating timetable often leaving 15 minutes before the timetabled departure and stop off at various jettys to pick up random people before heading across the lake back to Parapet and the main land.. We were again on our return journey met at the jetty and driven to the local airport, Silangit by Hudson who picked us up in Berestagi earlier in the week.

It was a two hour drive to a very modern airport where we took a 15 minute flight to Medan rather than a six hour very winding road journey. From Medan’s Kualanamu International airport we flew on to Jakarta on Java, leaving Sumatra which has been so interesting and where we have had a really lovely time.

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