Chilling out on Lake Toba

Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
Trip End Feb 01, 2012

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Where I stayed

Flag of Indonesia  , North Sumatra,
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hello everyone!

Greetings from Lake Toba! 

It took us a day to reach this place. After a bus ride from the jungle we arrived back in Medan - a city best seen in passing. It took us a whole hour to get from one bus station to another where we officially boarded the bus from hell!

It was a hot day, and of course there was no air-con. The conductor asked if we wanted to pay for three seats which we took up, meaning it was less of a tight squeeze, but a tight squeeze none the less. Ah to have Asian hips! The bus soon filled up with a group of teenage boys who were hell bent on showing how cool and grown up they were. (Oh my god I am at that age where I see cool wannabe's as idiotic!! Eeeek I'm OLD!!!) 
Anyways, I digress. Being the only foreigners on the bus, we got the first round. The leader of the pack kept looking at us, saying this one sentence over and over again. As soon as he uttered it the rest of the gang erupted in laughter. After the 6th time it happened I was ready to smack the guy. Instead I employed my 'number 1 tactic that is best used in Asia'. I smiled. And with enormous restraint used my friendliest voice and asked 'what does it mean?'. Clearly I couldn't give two hoots but I also wanted to show him that this lady knew what was going on. It worked and they stopped laughing, shifting their attentions to the girls in the front seat. 

6 hours later we made it to Parapat harbour, and were lucky enough to make the last boat crossing the lake. We stopped outside Tuk-Tuk but the lovely guest house people came to pick us up in their mopeds. Paul got the short end of the stick as he had to keep his backpack on his back whilst they took the scenic route to show us the place, even though it was pitch dark. Bless

We stayed in a traditional Batik house which was great, and at less than a fiver a day by far the best value accommodation on the island. Our mattress was perched on what's called an Eagle Eyre - a type of attic with small windows overlooking the lake. We'd climb a ladder to get to our sleeping quarters every night. It was brilliant. Although I have to confess we changed to a normal room after the 3rd night because we wanted a western bathroom and the novelty had worn off having to climb up and down the ladder to get to bed.  



Lake Toba itself is amazing. It was formed around 75000 years ago when a volcano erupted, and according to some created an ice-age because of all it's ash. What was created as a result was the largest lake in South East Asia, surrounded by green rolling hills that would make you think you were in the Swiss Alps. The scenery is magical. So beguiling that  we ended up spending a whole week here just sitting watching the beautiful scenery and not doing much else. 

I did manage to book myself into a cooking class on one of the days. I'd tried the Indonesian curry and was hooked on all the lovely spices they use to make it. Look up the recipe - you'll get to use cinnamon and star anise and gorgeous coriander seeds making it one of the tastiest curries I've had to date! Yum.  

Paul on the other hand just watched me cook and got to taste the fruits of my labour once I was done. Not a bad deal for him. And on that note I'll let him carry on from here. 

Very tasty it was too! 

We have met many lovely people on this 13 month trip but the people of Lake Toba take some beating. They were really really friendly. Wherever we went we ended up having a chat with a local who just wanted to say hello. The level of English here is very good so you can have a proper conversation. The Batak people who live in this area are so fun loving and care free. You can hear sounds of laughter all over the place and I am sure it's nothing to do with the legal magic mushrooms they sell! 

On one of the nights we went to this famous restaurant called Jennys where they cook great fresh fish from the lake. As it was a bit of a walk to get back to our place we got a lift from the owner's 18 year old daughter on the back of her bike. As she was going round the bends at all speeds nonchalantly looking back at me asking questions I was thinking to myself that Lake Toba is not a bad place to have the big finale! As I got off, she cracked Karen & I up with the comment " No jealous, he not hold on to me ". I told you they had great humor. 

We met some lovely cute kids too who wanted to practice their English with us. They were very good especially when we found out that they had only been studying for 3 months. Their standard was a lot higher than the Thai kids we taught. I suppose it helps that their teacher can speak English! 

So that's Lake Toba. A must see destination if you are in Sumatra. It used to be a hedonistic place full of up for it travelers going mad at full moon parties and then it kind of dropped off the banana pancake trail? I can't help think for the better really. It's the ultimate chill out place, so get yourself a good book and find the nearest hammock with lakeside views! 




Our next stop is over on the island of Java and the cultural city of Yogjakarta. See you in an art gallery! 

All our love as always, Paul & Karen xxx 

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mary tsiterou on


eileen farrugia (mom) on

great read and beautiful pictures . on

Wow your accomdatiion looked nice, what name is that. 13 months of traveling is so nice !

paul_karen on

Hey there! It is a place called Liberta but we hung out at a place up the road!

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