Daring Danau Toba to bunking down in Bukit Lawang

Trip Start Jun 27, 2007
Trip End Mar 17, 2008

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Danau Toba Thursday 19th: Having danced the night away, the next day was a late start, a stroll round Tuk-Tuk the little stubby bit of Samosir where we were staying. Small quiet, quaint a lot like winterbourne and Newchurch but with shed loads of restaurants. Rain halting play we grabbed another ginger tea, they are quickly becoming an obsession for Bill, with Nic and Mike. Heading back to the bungalow after a bit of pool Mike assures us that we will be perfectly fine on Moped and that it's the best way to explore the whle of Samosir. Still a little nervy we head out for an evenings test drive.

After a shaky start I mean they had to only have the complicated ones with gears, Bill and Sarah wobble of round the corner. Going from strength to stregnth the speed increased as did the distance we could go before dark, heading onto Samosir we went right and then left finally ending up at the most beautiful viewpoint, perfectly happy with our mopeding skills, the scenery was set off by an impormptu choir, compising of local kids paid for by some other tourists.

Dinner and a early night as with the new found power of the 'Ped we plan to explore big time, the pinnacle aim the hot springs some 60km away.

Friday 20th: Up and out we get scooters, helmets and the advice that's nothing is insured so you had better the hell not break anything. Plus a word of advice not to traverse the middle of the island road to save time, as given the rains it is muddy as hell.

Heading round the top of the island now Moped demons still crawling along at a top speed of 4okm Sarah deciding anything else is a little to fast, apparently the fear justifiable by her attire of shorts. We drag Mike and Nic into the smallest little museum which really seemed to deliver everything s a toursit would expect, drums, spears, penis holding statues and an interesting family tree from Adam and Eve to the current Batak people, good old missionaries. Getting thrown out of the performance we hadn't paid for of Batak dancing a little non-plussed we ventured forth, Sarah continuing to look great in a shiny red bike helmet, words cannot describe!! :).

Tally ho and onwards to the springs of heat, with new found speed maybe all of 50km/h nothing quite prepares you for a rickety old wet bridge, careering over it a slip here a skid there we reach the other side, here we contemplate, the bridge is not only shit but pretty dangerous, especially given the holes. Carrying on we reachthe hot srpings enjoying a dip in the skin shriveling sulphur springs, they were impresivley hot, we discussed the exciting bridges and how adventurous we fetl traversing them.

As always after swimming we had chips with fizzy pop and Mike !!a Boiled egg!! that cunning chap there was no way we would smell that egg not with all these sulphur fumes.

Boys being boys, it appeared Mike and Bill were both unable to return home the same way from whence they had come, plus with the added excitement of having undertaken the samosir challenge complete circumnavigation!! we set off down and round the rest of the island.

Nothing could have prepared us for the tale that unfolds from here on. To start the road was as it had been shoddy but functional I mean there was a road!! As we branched off round the road started to rapidly become a track, a gravel and stone track, but still we went on the setting sun always driving us ever forward, we shouted at passerby Tuk-Tuk, they pointed onwards. The track was fun weaving left and right to avoid the potholes and the foot deep puddles, I mean how adventurous we were being.

As the road climbed up into the mountains you could feel the temperature dropping, due to the altitude or the setting sun, having been riding for hours, replenishing the questionable fuel level at a roadside petrol station (petrol from a water bottle filtered through tights!!) we couldn't help but feel that round the next corner we would see the lights of Tuk-Tuk. Onwards and slightly confusingly still upwards we wound our way along the dodgy track, the mud rapidly increasing!! Revving to head up a little inlcline the back wheel of the bike falls into a muddy rut. Desperate not to drop the bike, we scramble to keep our balance and hold the bike up. A bit of a scary incident, but apart from a small burn on Sarah's leg from the exhaust, no serious damage. So we continued. It is now pitch black, and due to the muddy road, we are moving at a crawl, which is not good as the headlight is powered by a dynamo and so we can see nothing!! The next thing we know, we've come off the bike again, due to a MASSIVE amount of mud and a really steep incline. This time there is damage, Sarah has burnt her leg again, a bit worse, but poor Bill caught the whole bike on his ankle, and it left a horrible hole and bruise- but hey, silver lining, at least we didnt damage the bike!

As the mud got thicker the bikes got harder and harder to control careering towards the death edges on either side at every opportunity, the poor girls at points having to walk up to allow the boys to creep the bikes slowly up through the mud, Mike encouraging Bill along. After the up always came the down we were bumped about bouncing from rock to rock on the steep descent by this point keeping the revvs low to save what precious fuel we had left. After hours and seven or eight of these off road mud tracks we reached the bottom.

Slowly, slowly, we limp our way back to Tuk-Tuk. In pain, covered in mud, petrol tanks on empty and worried as we were three hours late. Mike had the genius idea to washthe bikes somewhere, before finally heading back, hopefully we won't have to pay any excess on them. We see them pulling off the road down towards the lake. Out come the water bottles, and down we scrambled to the lake side, a slow process given the bikes are caked in mud, but the bikes start looking better. Then out of nowhere, an Indonesian guy comes to our rescue! He pulls the bikes up onto the jetty into the light, and hauls out a massive bucket from the lake that he uses to wash. He flung water at the bikes with gusto! That was more like it- far more efficient. Such a lovely guy.

Off we go again, the final stretch back, greeted by the less than happy owner we delivered the bikes back and managed to get away with only paying 10,000 rupiah extra! Having claimed it was all the money we had... So a bit of a bargain for the scariest day of our lives!!!

Final note: Danau Toba has breathtaking views from the top of the scary cliffs, on one side there is a mental drop down into the lake, and on the other a drop down onto terraced rice paddies, one of the most frightening scenes but oh so stunning. Plus everywhere you look the hills are covered in the Batak graves, miniature versions of their unusual shaped-houses, containing remains of many generations from one family. It was a gorgeous place anjd every view was like a postcard. So although our moped adventure was one never to be repeated, we wouldnt change it at all.

Saturday 21st: Having decided that Danau Toba although beautiful didn't warrant another couple of days, on the recommendation of Mike and Nic it was back to Medan to venture forth to Bukit Lawang, Orang-utans and Jungle galore. Bus ride to Medan our first Lonely Planet bookswap and the rest of the day monging in the Mall. Finishing the day by pretending to be married to sleep in a cheap hotel, perhaps Bill should get Sarah a ring if they are married.

Sunday 22nd: We eventually arrive in Bukit Lawang north of Medan, the bus ride a combination of gut-wrenching, teeth-smashing, wonky roads, and in bus entertainment of Batak Karaoke and extreme BMX vids with hardcore trance soundtrack. A guide, Sanir dropped us at the only two options to stay, having already pretended to be married the night before we opted for the plus honeymoon style suite. The real draw being the thought of a shower after treking the next day. Heading down to the restaurant we couldn't believe it running into the girls from Borobudur and Prambanan, George, Laura and Becky, joined by the locals we learn't a most peculiar song, Jungle Trek sung to the tune of Jingle Bells

The chrous:
Jungle Trek, Jungle Trek In Bukit Lawang,
See the monkeys see the birds see Orang-utan.
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