Samosir Island...The Land Of The Batak People
Trip Start Feb 02, 2011
16Trip End Feb 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
Danau Toba International Cottage
There was an interesting sight here. There were many people who were throwing coins and notes into the Lake Toba as a sign of wishing for something. These young children, some aged 4 onwards, were just diving into the lake and among themselves having like a mini race as to whom could reach the money first. For them, the danger that the Lake may bring was insignificant. All that mattered to them was the money that they could take back home to put a meal on the table.
With that, we headed to the upper deck where there were seats available for us to sit. You could see another typical Indonesian sight here where people actually sit on top of busses and vans while commuting as there is lack of space for them inside the vehicles. The entire journey took about an hour. Inside the ferry, there is even a small tea stall where you could buy food and drinks while waiting for the ferry to reach its destination.
Finally, we arrived at Samosir Island at 9.30 am. We sat in our car and drove pass some paddy fields. It was green everywhere. You would see there was quite a lot of ancestral worship happening here, where people built graves for their ancestors right in the middle of their farms in anticipation that the ancestors would guard their crops and land.
A common practice among the Batak people are that the working class are women and the men mostly do not work. They spend their time with their friends in coffee shops and it is the female's responsibility, be it wife or sister, to put food on the table and to ensure there is enough money in the house. Also, when it comes to probate matters, the female never get and inheritance from their parents and all inheritance goes to the male children. But over time, this culture is slowly changing.
Our first visit here was to Ambarita Village to view the legacy left behind by King Siallagan, one of the first kings here. We got an opportunity to visit the Batak homes and even going into the houses. Most people here do pig farming quite a bit as well as whenever there is a feast, they would slaughter pigs as cattle is very expensive. It was in this village that we got to witness the original artifacts left behind by the kingdom of King Siallagan whereby prisoners used to be tortured and beheaded before being consumed.
Previously, I used to think that the original Bataknese people were cannibals. However, after this tour, I got to understand that they do not pose any danger to normal humans but only eat the organs of the convicted criminals once they have been beheaded. The rest of the flesh is thrown back to the Lake and after that ritual, the local people are barred from drinking the lake water for the next seven days. The purpose of this ritual is that it is believed that the occult knowledge is stored in the organs of humans and hence, once it is consumed, it is transfered to the King himself.
The guide demonstrated to us in detail how this process happens and the actual weapons used. They also had another magic wand, which is 2 meters in length which is used to invite rain whenever there was drought. It was said that if that wand was tapped to the floor three times, then immediately rain shall fall. However, we could not try this because the moment we arrived to this village, it had started raining. :) Once the tour of this village was done, we had to walk through a small arena which houses stalls by the locals selling the local handicraft. Of course, this is where you would require strong bargaining skills. Always start by reducing the item by 70% and finally settle with a minimum of 50% discount.
With that village visited, we moved on to another village driving pass the local houses. Finally, we arrived at Kind Sidabutar's Tomb. Then the guide had explained to us on the history of this king and the history. Basically, these were the two Tomok Tribe, a sub tribe of Bataknese people. In origin, the Bataknese people have 8 major tribes and this again can be sub divided into 53 sub tribes. There were three main graves here and a few other supplementary graves. The main graves belonged to the Kings and the supplementary graves belonged to the warriors who died in the war defending their kings.
They were given the honor to be buried beside their kings. The two initial kings had their graves designed in the typical Bataknese tradition, where a sculpture of their faces were seen outside the graves. However, the most recent king had been baptized into Christianity and hence his grave had a cross on it. You could also see that on one of the graves, there is a lady in seated posture. That is the princess who had run away with another man on the eve of her wedding. The king had resorted to sorcery and made her go mad, as the legend says. And thus, she was put beside him as well.
With this visited, we had completed the tour of Samosir Island and walked back slowly to the jetty but we were ahead of time. We arrived at the jetty at 11.40 and the ferry was scheduled to arrive at 12.30. Hence we spent some time with a local at her store until the time came for us to board the ferry back to Parapat. Finally at 1.30 pm, the ferry reached the town of Parapat. On the whole, it was a great experience visiting this island.
For your information, Samosir Island is 110% the size of Singapore. It is a very fertile island as it is built of volcanic rocks, making the central part of the island inhabitable but the surrounding very fertile land. Another common thing that you could see here is shops selling meat but the advertisement would be just B1. If you see a shop with B1 signage outside, that means Roasted Dog Meat is available. If it is B2, then it is roasted pork. Hehehehe Obviously, I was not that adventurous to try these delicacies there despite the fact that I was already very hungry by noon.