Danau Toba

Trip Start Jan 2003
Trip End Dec 2003

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Day 115 - Danau Toba

The lake is another impressive sight and Indonesia is at the very least rivalling Laos in the picturesque stakes. The more time I spend here, the more time I want to and the more I think it's a shame others don't. The surprising aspect has been the other travellers here. Because it's a bit more off the beaten traveller path I imagined they would be more adventurous and interesting than elsewhere. The vast majority have however shown themselves to be particularly dull and predictable.

The Indonesian Rupiah is another distinctly unimpressive currency - it could have a few 0's lopped off the end and still be rubbish and you seemingly need to be a millionaire to have dinner. What sets it aside from other comparable currencies though is the apparent need for coins. the lowest denomination note I have encountered is a 500 and I haven't seen a price quoted at anything other than a round 500 or more frequently 1000. Taking all that into consideration I'm baffled by the fact I've accumulated a couple of pocketfuls of 100 rupiah coins which as far as I can tell, aren't even made from metal. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they weren't even legal tender but were instead just used as car wash tokens.

After the 'tourist guides' in Berastagi, life on that front has taken a whole new meaning today. An entire school from a place just outside Medan (four hours away) has come to Lake Toba. They haven't come for the history or the sights but instead with the expressed intention of seeking out tourists on whom to practice their English. Kirsty and I, perhaps being too nice in terms of not being able to say 'No' are now likely to have our photographs and questionnaire answers an a hundred and one school projects.

Day 116 - Danau Toba

After yesterday's comment about uninteresting travellers here we have spent three hours chatting to a Bostonian professor of Hollywood who has spent the last thirty years teaching in various cities around Asia. Not only useful to bleed dry for information about the places we're yet to visit he offered a unique perspective on those we have. Communist North Korea and China being on the list he's taught in he is perhaps one of a very small minority of Americans who sees merits in communism. It's also a relief to meet someone whose conversation doesn't revolve around where we've been, where we're going and what we do for a living.

Football hooliganism in Indonesia makes English seem like a tapestry convention. Matches in recent years between Java and Sumatra have resulted in so many incidents that the last match in Jakarta was a lock-out for Sumatrans. Undeterred they kidnapped twenty Javanese policemen. The ransom: let the Sumatrans in to 'watch' the match. The authorities relented and predictably more violence ensued. No-one seems to know the result of the match. Or care.
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Marga on

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