My friends and I decided to have a short break from work and made used of the long weekend in May to go for a short trip. We initially wanted to visit Hanoi’s Halong Bay, however, May is not the right month to go Hanoi due to the weather. Therefore, one of my friend suggested going to Medan instead, to visit Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world.
We booked a private tour with New Shan Travel Service in Singapore and Four Seasons Holiday’s tour guide and driver came to fetch us at the Medan airport. We paid $523 for the 4 days tour (23-26 May) including transport, lodging & food. Our flight is via Silkair.
Upon arriving at the airport, we took a 5 hours drive up to Parapat, along the journey we passed through the rubber & palm oil plantations. It’s a pity that the car is driving too fast for us to take any clear photographs of the plantation, but the scene of the beautiful plantation had been imprinted in my head. We stopped for lunch and to buy their local products along the journey. I bought a lot of peanut candy & some Keropok (Indonesian crackers) for my colleagues and friends.
The journey up to Parapat was a tiring and bumpy one. For those who cannot withstand bumpy rides, remember to take a motion-sickness pill before the ride. The 5 hours journey was not continuous, we did stop after 1 or 2 hours for a toilet break. However, do not expect too much from their public toilets. For those who have not been to a developing country, it might be an eye opener for you. Their toilets do not come with a flush. We have to use a small container to scoop water from the ‘well’ beside the squatting toilet bowl. Mosquitoes or other insects may be flying around in the toilet. If you are ‘lucky’, you might find several mosquito larvae in the ‘well’. Therefore, be prepared with insect repellent.
Upon arriving at Lake Toba, all the tiredness would be forgotten once you see how beautiful the lake is.
After our lunch, we took a boat ride on Lake Toba to Samosir Island, a large volcanic island on the lake. Samosir Island , is estimated to be the size of Singapore. Lake Toba and the island were formed after the eruption of a supervolcano some 75,000 years ago.
The island is the centre of the Batak culture and many of the Toba Batak traditional houses remain on the island. The Batak villagers were very nice, we got to see how these villagers lead their daily lives & got a feel of their culture on this island. Most of the children we saw in Parapat were not wearing shoes, some of them would perform simple songs on our boat ride to earn a little money.
After our visit to this island, we went back to Parapat to check-in at our hotel. We stayed at Niagara Hotel for 1 night. There is no air-conditioning in this hotel, as the temperature is very cold up here. I was freezing even though I had my jacket and blanket covered at night. The hotel room was simple, clean and acceptable, but more like a chalet, with tiled flooring instead of carpeted floor.
The view from our room’s balcony was amazing! I woke up to a beautiful sun rise, birds singing and the cool wind blowing at my face.
We went to the swimming pool area to take more photos of the lake. The sun rise was also beautiful from the poolside, which I could not resist allowing the warm morning rays to lick my face.
However, there is one thing I do not like about this hotel. Although the hotel claims to have free wifi at the lobby, however, none of us is able to connect the wifi to our mobile phones. I checked with the front office a few times and they said that they cannot help us because they do not know how to operate wifi on mobile and only know how to operate it on laptop. Anyway, we managed to survive one day without wifi, feels good to disconnect from this world for a while. 🙂
Jl. Pembangunan No. 1 Parapat
North Sumatera 21174
Phone : +62-625-41028
Fax : +62-625-41233