Waterfalls and Volcanos

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Mar 01, 2011

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Each Saturday morning there is a staff meeting at the school and Dan and I have been asked to prepare a presentation each week. This Saturday was our first and we delivered an hours presentation on the UK and it's education system it seemed to go pretty well and the teachers asked us many questions about schooling in the UK and how it differs to Indonesia.

At 12'oclock we had to leave as we were going to Lake Toba for the weekend with Panut and his family. Panut arranged for his brother who would be the driver for the weekend to pick us up from Star and take us to his house where we would have lunch and meet Harto and one of the students called Yogi. Yogi is 15 and was the first student to receive a scholarship at Star, he is a nice lad and is very keen to improve his english he was emailing us for a while before we arrived in Medan. After lunch we all piled in the car along with Panuts wife the kids Naufal and Kancer and Panuts niece who is also a student at Star.

Lake Toba is only 85km from Medan but the roads are really bad and it took us 5hrs to reach Tongging, a little village on the edge of Lake Toba. Lake Toba is in the highlands and it's much cooler than Medan it was about 17 degrees when we arrived and having been used to 30 plus for months we quickly had our jumpers on. After checking into our chalets Panut, Harto,Yogi, Dan and I went for a walk down to the lake it's a very quiet area with few tourists. There are a few shops and restaurants over looking the lake but very few people about. We went down to the waters edge to watch the locals fishing it was incredible they literally threw a net into the water and scooped it straight back out again and it would be full of fish. They said they sold them for 4000 rupiah a kilo which is about 30p so I guess they wouldn't make that much money out of it. They were all drinking home brew made out of some sort of fermented milk that looked disgusting - we declined there offer to join them! Lake Toba is a Christian area and is was strange for us to see people drinking and smoking as we are living in a Muslim area and become so used to not seeing alcohol and very few people smoking. There are fish farms on the lake and the owner said if we went a few at a time we could walk out and have a look Yogi and i were too scared as the bridge over there looked pretty rickety and we didn't fancy falling in the water but the others went and said there were hundreds of massive fish in the pens.

Dian had bought a picnic with her for our tea so on the way back we bought some mangoes to go with it. They are about half of the size of the ones we have at home and much sweeter and cheaper they only cost 80p a kilo.

When we got back to the chalet our tea was ready, we had 4 chalets all next door to each other with adjoining outside areas so we put a couple of rugs out and ate outside. One of the things we have quickly learned about Indonesians is the importance of rice, they eat it with every meal so of course the rice steamer came with us and we had freshly steamed rice for tea along with fish and chicken dishes and the obligatory symbol it was all really tasty and we finished it off with the mangoes and some other fruits we had never had before that tasted a bit like Lychee. Panut,Harto,Yogi,Dan and I spent the rest of the evening playing dominos outside, Dan and I very badly!!

As everyone is Muslim they get up early to pray so by 5.45am they were all up and sitting outside, Dan and I managed to drag ourselves out of bed an hour later and joined them for breakfast. After breakfast we checked out and headed back down to the lake, Panut bought some more mangoes and paid only 25p a kilo we thought they were cheap last night but I guess we were ripped off!! Before we left we had all had a ride around part of the lake on a boat, the scenery is incredible it's surrounded by mountains unfortunately it was quite foggy so we couldn't see very far apparently there is an island in the middle of the lake but we couldn't see it. It was Harto and yogis first visit to Lake Toba and they were really enjoying it and taking lots of photos.

On our way back to Medan we first stopped off at a waterfall called sopisopiso. Dan, Harto, Yogi, Panuts niece and I decided to walk down the trail to the waterfall and back up is was a long walk and Indonesians don't seem to walk anywhere so we had plenty of rest breaks. We have been here for 10 days now and are yet to see another westerner, Indonesia sees very little international tourism compared to its south east Asian neighbours so it's quite an event for the locals when they see us even when we are away from Tembung. On our way down to the waterfall we must have been stopped at least 10 times by locals and asked if they could have their photo taken with us, it's like being a celebrity!!

We were pretty hungry after our trek so we stopped off at a Muslim cafe on our way to the volcano and had lunch. Every time we eat with Panut he gets us to try different foods and drinks this time it was an avocado and chocolate shake we weren't sure at first and were even less sure when it arrived and smelt of grass but it was actually really nice.

Next stop was a nearby active volcano and we all trekked to the top even Dian and Kancer! The walk was pretty steep but easy enough the vegetation was quite thick to begin with but as we got higher it changed to shrubbery and lots of rocks as we entered the clouds. I have walked in clouds before but never got as wet as before. as we got close to the top you could smell the sulphur like rotten eggs and hear the sulphur coming to the surface. When we got to the top and we could see the vents and the steam erupting the cloud got thicker and the visibility got much worse so we quickly walked to the crater, it was really loud but because of the cloud we couldn't see anything. We didn't stay too long as the visibility was getting worse and Harto was getting concerned he thought the flash of the camera was lightning and urged us to get moving within an hour we were back down.

As it was getting quite late to avoid the traffic on the way back we stopped off in the town of Beristagi for a drink and Naufal had a horse ride. Beristagi is a small town popular with local tourists it has a few tourist stalls selling t shirts and trinkets and some cafes.
Maman had invited us all to his house for dinner but it was after 10pm by the time we got back to Medan so we just called in for 20mins and had some clams. It was nearly midnight when we got home, there was a wedding at the house opposite it was the same wedding that we went to last weekend but at the grooms families house and it was still in full swing with really loud music and people dancing. Luckily they didn't ask us to join them as we were knackered, we went straight to bed thankful that we have a day off school tomorrow.
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