Attack of the killer bees!

Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , North Sumatra,
Friday, April 27, 2012

The scooter is dead, long live the 'proper' bike!  Finally I was able trade in the 110cc hairdryer for a 160cc Honda Megapro...yes I know I'm not going to win any races on a 160cc bike but still according to several random Indonesian men, this is a mans bike and I couldn't possibly know how to ride it?! (Little do they know that if they'd told me I couldn't ride a hedgehog I'd have proved them wrong somehow!)  The strange looks I was getting at the stop lights have now escalated to full on open mouthed gawps...a foreign girl?!... on a mans bike?!

So anyway it was time for our first real bike tour, and since we only had a two day weekend at our disposal we decided to head to the nearest decent place outside of Medan, Berastagi, famous for it's two volcanoes (Sibayak and Sinabung) and the Sipiso-piso waterfall.  This time it was me, Roger, Sameeh, Subi,  and of course Sophie the dog, escaping Medan for the weekend and we set out late (as always) on Saturday for the 2 hour drive to Berastagi.  The road to Berastagi is pretty terrifying and so we made up for it with a stop at our favourite strawberry pancake restaurant along the way.  Relaxing at the hotel and enjoying the western menu and our take away strawberry juice we met a couple travelling Indonesia (American guy, Japanese girl) and invited them to join us the next day for our trip up to the waterfall and then lake Toba on our bikes.  They accepted...and lived to regret it later! 

Sipiso-piso turned out to be a pretty short drive from Berastagi (early) the next morning after a rude awakening from Subi who joyfully turned out to be a (very) morning person and who quickly discovered that I was in fact not.  Once you arrive at the waterfall you can hike down to the bottom to really appreciate how high it is and so we set off down the hill (the easy part) to explore.  After about 20 minutes...and around 20 photos with random groups of Indonesian girls along the way, we made it to the bottom to enjoy the spray and rainbows created by the waterfall before trekking back up (the hard part) for around 30 minutes and another 30 photos, with dripping wet hair and mascara streaked eyes.  

Next we headed further to a quiet little town called Tonggin.  Tonggin sits right on the edge of lake Toba and is surrounded by beautiful mountains.  As you make your way down from the waterfall to Tonggin along the hairpin turns, it appears, beautifully picturesque down below.  At Tonggin we stopped off at a fish restaurant, where we got to choose our fish and whether we wanted it grilled, fried or covered in sauce.  Really delicious, once you've negotiated the bones (much to Rogers disappointment).  After lunch we voted to head the long way back to Berastagi for some new scenery and because heading back up those hairpins wasn't too appealing. 

It all went wrong about 5 minutes after we'd stopped off for a snack at a little bus shelter on the side of the road.  We were just tucking into a packet of cheesy crinkle crisps when all of  a sudden Roger comes flying out of the shelter at full pace and starts rolling round on the floor. It took everyone a few seconds of confusion to realise that we were under attack, by huge black hornets! After managing to chase about 5 or 6 of them off Roger and a lot of running about and arm flapping we managed to grab our stuff and regroup by the bikes.  Roger had been stung several times on his back and shoulder and it turned out that the other American guy had also been stung all over his face and head and was having a mild allergic reaction to the stings.  The rest of us had managed to escape unscathed.  Our only option was to head back the way we'd come to a village we'd passed about 20 minutes earlier to find medicine
Here in Sumatra it seems the best way to get medicine is to Google first then self prescribe.  The fact that the woman behind the counter of the village pharmacy was trying to sell us a cream called 'Scabimite' reinforced my fears.   Luckily Roger is pretty medical savvy and was able to get some suitable drugs and creams ..complete with an audience of about half the village.  

We eventually made it back to Berastagi about 3 hours later than planned, in the dark and rain and decided that the best thing to do was to stay over one more night and head back to Medan the next day (Monday morning) just in time for work! 

Well we did come here for a challenge right?  I hope you enjoy the photos and thanks for reading!  
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Melanie on

Interesting reading and gorgeous photos, as always!

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