More Danau Toba


One day we rode our bikes around the island.  The views were beautiful and the people were very friendly as we exchanged “horas”–the traditional Batak greeting.









Two young Batak girls walk along the main road that winds around the island.









Some water buffalos enjoy grazing in the rice paddies.









Ambarita is a small village nearby where you can find traditional Batak homes as well as the famous chairs.  

The Batak people have a fascinating history.  They were cannibals.  However, they did not just go around eating each other.  This awful fait was reserved for criminals, such as murderers.  The criminal would be kept under the house with the animals.  After several days, the criminal was brought out before the king and counsel members who sat in these chairs.  They would then bring him out to a stone tablet and cut him up and eat him.  The entire village would join in on the cannibalism.  This is a fine example of fact being stranger than fiction.  Of course, this practice went out with the arrival of Christianity to the island.  





Now, one hundred percent of the population on the island are Christian.  We had the honor of attending the Children’s Christmas concert at the local Protestant church.  The children were dressed in their best clothes and very excited for the show.  The church was packed full of people.  It was a priceless experience.     








The people of Danau Toba are very outgoing and friendly.  We made many friends.  This is our friend Viola and her two children.











Rich walks down the major thoroughfare on the island.  Life was very relaxing in Toba.  We could have stayed here forever–but time was running out and the road was calling.








And so we traveled up to Krabi, Thailand to enjoy sun, fun and rock climbing.



2 Go Maps / 2 Go Actual Itinerary / 2 Go Photos / 2 Go Home Page



©1999-2001  Kelly and Rich Willis.  All rights reserved.


2 Go Danau Toba
Up More Danau Toba

Danau Toba is the largest lake in all of Southeast Asia.  The giant lake sits at an altitude of 800 meters, and is 100 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide.  The lake is situated in the caldera of the huge Toba volcano which erupted approximately 75,000 years ago.  The eruption of Toba was one of the most massive eruptions ever on Earth.  Many scientists believe that this eruption triggered the last ice age.  The eruption probably lasted two weeks until finally the volcano collapsed and formed the caldera which is now Danau Toba.  The bottom of the volcano rose and formed the island of Samosir which is beautifully situated in the middle of the blue waters of Toba.Danau Toba, or Lake Toba, is a must see of Sumatra.  We enjoyed our scenic bus ride from Bukit Lawang, but nothing prepared us for our first view of the beautiful Danau Toba.  It was absolutely breathtaking.  Our bus stopped in the town of Parapat and we had to take a ferry to Pulau Samosir, or Samosir Island.



Danau Toba is home of the Toba Batak people.  This traditional Batak house is still the structure of choice for these traditional and friendly people.






In fact, we stayed in a Batak home at the Tabo Cottages in the village of Tuk Tuk.  Our cottage took up the second floor and upper loft that you see here.  It was a beautiful and comfortable honeymoon suite–for the low low cost of $6usd per day.










The cottage was the perfect setting to work on our Creative Loafing articles.  We had views of the lake on one side and rice paddies on the other side. 











Tabo Cottages is run by German born Annette and her husband who is a native of Danau Toba.  Annette came to Sumatra while on an around the world trip after law school.  She stayed.  They now have three adorable children and a successful business.











Some of the kids of Danau Toba.












A family lived next to our cottage, and every morning we saw them out in their rice paddies clearing the area for the rice.







After several days of clearing the paddies, they began planting the rice.  They worked very hard.








We also enjoyed walking and riding around Danau Toba.  
Come along and meet the people of Toba



2 Go Maps / 2 Go Actual Itinerary / 2 Go Photos / 2 Go Home Page



©1999-2001  Kelly and Rich Willis.  All rights reserved.


2 Go Bukit Lawang
Up Life in Bukit Lawang Primary Rainforest

Bukit Lewang is a charming tourist town located on the edge of the huge Gungung Leuser National Park.  Many people visit for the Sungai Bohorok to go tubing down the river.  Others visit to go on jungle treks in the lush primary rainforest.  Most visitors come to Bukit Lawang, however, to see the orange men of the forest–the Orang-utan!

We spent three days  in Bukit Lewang, and enjoyed the orang-utan, the river and the rainforest.


Bohorok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Center

Orang-utan is Indonesian for “Men of the Forest”.  These fascinating creatures belong to the Great Apes family (along with the chimpanzee and the gorilla), which is man’s closest relative.  They evolved from the same evolutionary tree as man, and studying them helps us to understand our own origin.  

However, the very existence of these orange men of the forest has been threatened for many years now.  Eighty percent of the Orang-utans’ habitat has been destroyed over the past twenty years as man cuts down trees and clears away primary rainforest.  Furthermore, the adorable and passive orang-utans have been well-sought after pets, even though captivity of these apes has been against the law for decades.

Coming to the aid of the Orang-utans, two Swiss zoologists named Monica Borner and Regina Frey created the Bohorok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Center in 1973.  They gained support by the World Wildlife Federation, and made huge progress in the rehabilitation of Orang-utans that they recaptured from captivity or from forests that were being swiftly destroyed with no regard to the animals that lived within.


Borner and Frey were deeply dedicated to their cause.  They worked around the clock with the apes as they took them through the four stages of rehabilitation:

(1)  Removal from captivity
(2)  Quarantine (usually lasting 3 months)
(3)  Release into the Semi-wild forests around the center
(4)  Taken deep into the rainforest to be released into the wild forever.

The Bohorok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Center has now been taken over by the Indonesian government.  Visitors can come to the rehabilitation center to see the orang-utans who have been released into the wild.  To assist in their transition to the wild, there are two open feedings a day, during which the orang-utans may come swinging through the jungle for a free meal.  The hope, of course, is that with time, the orang-utans are finding enough fruit in the jungle on their own so that the free meal is no longer necessary.




We waited a long time during our first morning before a few orang-utans came to the feeding platform for breakfast.  We were relieved to find out that the forests are now rich with fruits and leaves, and therefore, the orang-utans are able to gather their own food.  This means that the orang-utans are becoming less dependant.  








When some orang-utans did come to the platform, they made themselves at home, drinking milk and peeling their own bananas and eating them.  They are very human-like.









After a good hearty breakfast, the orang-utans had fun together as they swung from branch to branch–









and later came close to the river’s edge to dip their feet.






Thirty-five ex-captive orang-utans currently live in the rehabilitation center in the semi-wild and are free to roam through the forests as they wish.  Eight are currently in quarantine.  The center is not taking in any more captive orang-utans, for the time being.  One of the issues with the rehabilitation center is the growth of tourism in the area.  Many hotels have sprung up too close to the forests, thereby increasing the apes’ exposure to human beings.  Some tourists and forest guides feed and pet these orang-utans, making rehabilitation for the wild impossible and exposing them to human diseases.  If these problems continue, it will be necessary for the center to relocate.  Although it was tempting to stay in close proximity to the rehabilitation center, we stayed in a hotel that was further away from the center and up above the river.  The Bukit Lawang Cottages are actually owned by Regina Frey and they work hard to improve the environmental status of the area.  Another bonus is that the resort-style rooms cost around $4 per day.  

If you are interested in learning more about the adorable and friendly orang-utans, the Bohorok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Center and other rehabilitation centers in this area, a wonderful web site 

Continue for more of Bukit Lawang




2 Go Maps / 2 Go Actual Itinerary / 2 Go Photos / 2 Go Home Page



©1999-2001  Kelly and Rich Willis.  All rights reserved.


1 Comment

  1. Lake toba in” kelly/willis EYES” roy_sianipar promote Batak to the PUBLIC « my radical judgement by roysianipar said,

    […] read more? roysianipar @ 12:04 am [filed under Uncategorized tagged batak, INDONESIA, lakeroba, PANJAITAN, ROYSIANIPAR, siagian, SILITONGA […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: