WHY EUROPEAN LOVE TO SELL LAKE TOBA/BATAK TO GLOBAL MARKET ?BATAK ARE YOU READY TO BE QUICK AND SMART?what u mean by quick N smart? well about everything you do in your life.most of all no corruption.
Tuk Tuk Peninsula landscape
Beautiful Batak house surrounded by rice paddies and local people walking by
Entrance to the historic site at Ambarita near the jetty at Siallagan village
Batak houses and a group of 300 years old stone chairs
Batak museum in Ambarita
A Batak house was transformed into a small but nevertheless instructive museum
Batak house decoration
Closeup of a decorative wooden element on the Batak museum in Ambarita
Stone ladder up to a Batak house
Since the living space of a Batak house is always on the first floor, ladders are logically needed to enter the house. This one was special due to its material, normally they are made of wood
Happy kids in Tuk Tuk
We came across these kids who were singing when we passed them, and were very happy about our applause
Decrepit but still standing
Here the fenced off area below the living space is clearly visible
Stephan and the jackfruit
Together with the stinky durian the jackfruit is one of the most impressive fruit of South-East Asia
Hiding in the tree
This tree was so huge that Stephan could easily have hidden inside it
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Typical Batak houses
You can find a huge number of them on Samosir Island in the middle of Lake TobaOur sightseeing trip from Bukit Lawang to Lake Toba was undertaken in a minibus, which by itself was not really uncomfortable but we felt the bad road conditions (potholes etc.) much more strongly. The first part of the trip led us back to Medan, crossing wide plantations of oil palms whose fruits were just being picked and transported to oil mills, and huge plantations of gum trees. The crossing of Medan did not consume too much time, there were relatively few congestions. Our next stop on the way to Lake Toba was Brastagi, a hill resort town established by the Dutch in the early 20th century as a retreat from the heat and humidity of the lowlands. Although the town does not have many specific points of interest, its position, surrounded by active volcanoes, is memorable and the place does not only cater for Western tourists but also attracts the Indonesian middle class, whose presence we saw here for the first time and which should accompany us for some more time. Around Brastagi we encountered a lot of buses which were so packed that regularly people had to sit on the roof, we even saw one guy playing the guitar up
It spectacularly falls 120m into the Lake Tobathere. But they did not bother us further because we left the main road and took a smaller and more sinuous one that promised to be very scenic. The road indeed was wonderful leading through pine-clothed slopes and we soon caught glimpses of the immense Lake Toba, for instance at our first sightseeing stop, the Sipisopiso waterfalls, which are pretty spectacular falling 120m into the lake. Unfortunately our driver gave us only five minutes (!) to watch and take photos, so we could not walk around for an even better look and for swimming possibly. The driver did not stop the engine while we were away and it seemed that he had some trouble with the minibus, we later found out that the hand break did not work, for instance. Furthermore he seemed really in a hurry, he interpreted his task to take the tourists safely from A to B and time was very important. So he did not stop at the Simalungun Palace, which we regretted, but since we did not know what we missed and we could not find the palace mentioned in our guidebook at all, we hope that it is not too spectacular. We arrived rather
Edge of Lake Toba
It is so large that you cannot see the other sideearly in Prapat for the ferry to Tuk Tuk on Samosir Island, it turned out that the driver had pushed so much because he feared that we would miss the ferry. By the jetty, some hawkers offering accommodation already awaited the tourists, but they were all extremely nice and not pushy at all. A guesthouse had already been recommended to us at the Jungle Inn and somebody from the place was also waiting for the newly arrived, he had pictures with him and accompanied us on the ferry. We promised to have a look and he promised to take us to the other hotel we had taken into consideration, should we not like the Samosir Cottage. But we liked the guesthouse, it was situated directly at the edge of the lake, and we were given a pretty bungalow right by the water, where you could hear the waves lapping in the evening or morning. So we stayed and did not regret our decision. Samosir Cottage is a very nice place for backpackers, with good food, a spacious sitting area with a bar, a ping-pong table and a TV where the travellers could choose a DVD each evening. We spent some
Unfortunately the weather was not always at its best, we had our share of rainfall every day during our staytime there, also due to the daily rainfall, reading, writing and talking to other travellers. We for instance met two young Frenchmen, both of them future social workers, one of whom had close ties to Indonesia due to his father’s job as journalist and photographer. The day we left we saw Lindsay again, had a nice chat and could finally exchange email addresses because we had not seen her on the morning of our departure from Bukit Lawang.
Lake Toba is the largest inland water body of Southeast Asia, it is 87km long and 31km across at its widest point and Klaudia estimated it to be 10 times the size of here native Wörthersee, which already appears large to her. It was formed 75,000 years ago after a massive volcanic explosion, which was so violent that scientists believe it could have triggered the onset of the last ice age. The fact that Lake Toba’s water is quite warm despite its depth (up to 529m) leads one to assume that there must be some hot underwater, which is not out of place in a region studded with volcanoes. Right in the middle of Lake Toba lies Samosir Island, which can
Ferry to Tuk Tuk
The best way to move around Lake Toba is on the lake, the ferries call at one hotel complex after the other, like it used to be on some Austrian lakes toobe reached by road at its western side – strictly speaking it is not an island because it is connected to the mainland there – and by ferry from Parapat on the eastern side. It is by far not a small place that you could easily cross and discover on foot being 40km long and 20km wide! On its eastern side, Samosir Island displays the haven for tourists, Tuk Tuk Peninsula (this one is actually small and can be managed on foot). In its heydays, Tuk Tuk must have been a crowded place, offering all imaginable tourist facilities, with its continuous ribbon of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, minimarts, curio shops, bicycle and motor cycle rents, bookshops, internet cafes and tour companies following the road that skirts the perimeter of the peninsula. Today, with relatively few tourists around, many hotels are closed, coffeeshops have been abandoned and are falling to pieces, many shops and internet cafes are only open when their owners have some time to spare. Although the place sometimes had the feel of a deserted ghost town, we liked it as many efforts had been made not to deface the beautiful lakeside and a high percentage of the hotels and
The lake is still a source of livehood for many fishermen. This one uses a peculiar technique by hitting the water, maybe in order to frighten the fish into the netguesthouses are built in the local Batak style or integrate at least some architectural elements.
Lake Toba is beautiful, surrounded by pine-clothed mountain slopes, and our first activity was to go swimming, but we were again eager for some cultural sights, and these we could find on Samosir Island. The highland areas around Lake Toba (the lake itself is at 900m) brought forth a specific population, the Bataks, of who today still about 3 million exist and speak the language. The most immediately distinctive element of their culture are the traditional Batak houses, which we decided to explore on foot. The Batak houses are erected on stilts and are furthermore characterised by high prowed roofs covered by thatch, including fine painted wood carvings. The living space consisted of the entire floor, the fire and cooking place being its centre and the sleeping areas were superposed against the roof. The area between the stilts was fenced off with wood and this is where the domestic animals lived and were fed from above with the cooking leftovers. What fascinated us apart from the architectural features is the fact that the traditional houses are still lived in today, though being considered too
Fish everywhere around Lake Toba, not only on the menussmall for today’s needs, they have mostly been enlarged by extensions at the rear. Our first destination was Tomok, around 3km south of the Tuk Tuk Peninsula, which used to be a traditional Batak village. Today there are far more souvenir stalls than Batak houses, which is a pity as we found the remaining ones quite attractive by their style and some very nice decorative wood carvings. But Tomok also offers other vestiges of the past, like carved stone coffins, the most famous of which is the King’s Coffin, a sarcophagus containing the body of the chief of the first tribe to migrate to the area. There are more grave sites to be found here, surrounded by stone elephants, figures, tables and chairs. We tried to find the small museum with Batak implements, but were told that it no longer existed because the traditional house in which it had been housed, had in the meantime crumbled to pieces. The rest of the site also gave a neglected impression, furthermore it seems that some sarcophagi and figures had been moved and arranged differently, quite a pity. As a matter of fact, there were no other tourists around, although this should be
Tourist cottages in Batak style
Many of the hotels in Tuk Tuk have stuck to the traditional style of roofshigh season, normally attracting also multitudes of Indonesian visitors fleeing from the heat of the big cities into the cool climate of Lake Toba.
We wanted to get to another village, but from Tomok it was rather far and we would have had to walk on the main road skirting the perimeter of Samosir Island, so we tried to catch a bemo to Ambarita. At first every bemo driver at the jetty tried to urge us to charter the vehicle, which we categorically refused and as we stayed firm, we were ‘allowed’ to use a local bemo just like everybody else (i.e. Indonesians). The village is famous for its megalithic complexes, but they are not easy to find. We would probably have missed even the most important one at Siallagan village, had the population not been so helpful. The site also harbours the tomb of the first chief of Ambarita. Batak tombs are very special, usually topped with a restrained Batak house made of brick and stucco, many are comparatively modest affairs, others are grandiose structures, with several storeys, pillars and ostentatious ornamentation combining Christian and traditional symbols. Ambarita also displays a row of well preserved Batak houses, one
Some of the better hotels have jetties of their ownof them turned into a modest but still instructive museum. Some of the other houses are still being lived in, we met a girl living in one, a future English teacher studying in Medan, who tried practicing her English with us. In the middle of the area, under a huge tree, 300-year old chairs are arranged, which had been used as the site for village councils, where disputes were settled and punishments decided. The chief would sit in the armchair, whilst other village elders sat in the surrounding chairs, the person on trial finally would sit on the small chair closest to the table. Here was acted out the gruesome part of the traditional legal system, which came to an end in 1816 with the Bataks’ conversion to Christianity. The criminal sentenced to death would be blindfolded, tied hand and foot and carried bodily to a large stone block. He would then be sliced with a small knife, chilli, garlic and onion were reputedly rubbed into the wounds before a mallet – like a meat tenderiser – would be used to prepare the ‘meat’ for consumption (by pounding the man, already, no doubt, in a certain amount of pain). Having
Sadly the original thatched roofs are now often replaced by corrugated iron roofsbeen sufficiently trussed and pummelled, the unfortunate would be carried to the block and his head cut off. The (strength-giving) blood was collected and drunk by the chief, while the meat was distributed to the villagers. The bones, finally, were collected up and thrown into the lake – which was unclean for a week and no activity occurred during that time. After we recovered from these gruesome stories, we again walked from Ambarita to Tuk Tuk and took our time having close looks at plants and buildings or profiting from nice views on the lake. Lake Toba is a beautiful region with cool climate (not too cool, though, to be pleasant and to swim), which we had enjoyed in spite of the daily rainfall. People here are very nice and although there was always some melancholic strand interwoven into their laughter or music and the locals begged us to come back or recommend the place, such depression as on Sumbawa or Flores was nowhere to be felt. We liked the people on Sumatra very much and hope that the Indonesian government will concentrate its propaganda not only on Bali, there is much more to Indonesia than just its most famous
The bigger one on the right shows Christian elements, while the left one displays a typical Batak stone sarcophagusisland.
We left Lake Toba on August 21st and planned to stay in Medan one night, as a flight would take us to Jakarta from there, and arrived as late as possible since we had not kept a positive remembrance of the town. This time we had sworn ourselves to choose a better hotel, and after some negotiating in his best charming manner, Stephan managed to get a good room at an acceptable price. When we arrived at the airport next morning, we learnt that our flight had been cancelled (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), but unlike Merpati Airlines the Air Asia staff was abundant, efficient and helpful. They offered us either to pay back the money or to book us on the next available Air Asia flight, which was in the late afternoon. We decided to choose the latter alternative and to make the best of one day in Medan, which consisted of using the internet and publishing another entry for our travelblog. Everything worked out perfectly well with the afternoon flight and we arrived safely in Jakarta.
P.S.: We later learnt from the media that there had been huge problems at the Medan airport, it had to
Carved stone coffin
Impressive Batak way of burying the deadbe closed for seven hours due to problems with the lighting system, and at the beginning of September a plane by Mandala Airlines crashed into a densely populated quarter of Medan.
Village of Tomok
Small square lined with Batak houses
Another Batak house
Some of the traditional houses are still lived in today, and to Klaudia’s pleasure many flowers were put all around
He only woke up when we left and even asked for some payment for his guide services, we put some money into the donation box instead
The sarcophagus contains the body of Raja Sidabutar, the chief of the first tribe to migrate to the area
Arranged in a circle, these figures looked like a village council watching over the sarcophagus
Modern Batak grave
Also today, the typical Batak tomb combines Christian elements with traditional symbols represented by a miniature Batak house
Striking example of painted and carved wood beneath the gable of a Batak house
Modern Batak building
Part of a glamourous hotel complex, this building in Batak style may be used for performances