Lake Toba

Trip Start Sep 27, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Merlin Guest house

Flag of Indonesia  , Sumatra,
Saturday, May 22, 2010

We arrived on Tuk Tuk in Lake Toba late afternoon after two mini buses and a boat journey. We had to get a minibus to a town 15 minutes from Berastagi and another minibus from there for 4 hours. We then got a minibus for an hour to Parapat where a guy tried to charge us 70,000 rupiah for a journey that was worth 16,000 (you have to be careful over here and know the prices of bus journeys especially as otherwise people will just rob you blind). From Parapat we caught the boat across to Tuk Tuk, the journey took us all day but cost less than 5 pound for both of us.

Lake Toba is the largest lake in South East Asia, 1700 sq km! It is surrounded by lush green mountains on all sides and has a huge island in the middle. The island is called Samosir and was created by a volcanic eruption. To give you some idea how massive the lake is, Samosir island is as big as Singapore!! We stayed on Tuk Tuk which is a small peninsular on the East coast of the island.

After struggling off yet more touts on the boat ride across to Tuk Tuk we had a wander around the island looking for accommodation. The accommodation ranged from really swanky places to absolute dives, we found one in the middle which was a Batak style house with our own bathroom with a view over looking the lake set in a nice little garden. There was only 4 rooms in the place so it was really peaceful and the view of the lake was beautiful.

We recovered from the journey and went for some diner in a local restaurant and had some Mie Goreng (Fried Noodles). When we were looking for a room a guy told us that a live band was playing in his bar so we went up and decided to check it out. The bar was brand new and really cool, the beer over here is a little expensive 2 pound a for a big bottle which is expensive for Asia, but it tastes good so thats the most important thing. We watched the band from about 9 till midnight, they mostly played cover versions and did it pretty well, they also played a few Batak song which were cool too.

The next morning we woke up late and spent all day just relaxing by the lake. The view was really beautiful, the lake is so huge it reaches all the way to the horizon then the jungle cover mountains just spring up all around you. We did absolutely nothing all day the most energy we used was to dive in the water then climb back out, a really cool place to relax. That evening we decided to get some western food and ordered 2 pizzas from a local restaurant which were great, you really appreciate western food when all you seem to eat is noodles and rice.

The next morning was pretty much the same thing. We woke up late and took our chairs to the lakes edge and just relaxed. The temperature here is absolutely perfect for us, its really sunny and hot, but Lake Toba is 1,000 metres above sea level so it is not humid and sweaty. We spent all day in the sun, diving into the lake when we got a little hot, the water is crystal clear and really refreshing.

That evening we walked around Tuk Tuk a found a bar to watch the sun go down, again the views were beautiful. We had a couple of Bintangs and watched the sun go down behind the mountains. When it was dark we went to a restaurant and had BBQ fish fresh from the lake, the fish were huge and tasted great it was probably some of the best food we have had so far. We got the boat first thing in the morning back to the mainland. We had a really relaxing time in Lake Toba, the place is stunning and really peaceful, it was just what we needed after all the trekking.

Once back on the mainland we decided to get some breakfast... We went to another local place with all the food in the glass cabinet behind the net curtain as we have been doing everyday since we have been in Sumatra but this time it was a big mistake. Em ordered a piece of chicken, rice and vegetables and Chris ordered fish. When it was on front of us we thought it looked pretty old and dried up but we didn't really bat an eyelid. Em bit into her chicken, tasted really dry, had another bite which then revealed a load of maggots squirming around, she spat it out straight away and then went and puked up the other mouthful - it was horrendous!!!!! We are both scarred for life, especially Em, it has certainly put us off anymore glass cabinet food behind a net curtain - lesson learnt eukkkk!  

Apart from that last mishap Sumatra has been really cool. It is an immensely beautiful place and although we only saw a small part of Sumatra, what we saw was amazing and so glad we came here. The orangutans were definitely the best part - that was just out this world but the whole 10 days has been great. Next stop Java.
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Mai on

Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your experience at Lake Toba. It makes me all the more excited about my trip there which is happening in a week's time. Your guesthouse looks fantastic. Would you mind telling me its name, as I'm looking for accommodation? Also it's nice of you to warn of maggot-infested food behind net curtain! I'll be sure to stay away.

dezr on

Tuk Tuk is nice, but we need to be a bit careful in Parapat (on the main land), especially for food, though I think not all restaurants are like that...

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