Visit Lake Toba, The Largest Volcanic Lake in The World
If you travel to Indonesia and have a chance to visit Medan, the city where I come from, please do not miss to visit Lake Toba. This lake is not just beautiful but also well known as the largest volcanic lake in the world (based on written on Wikipedia, shaped by the eruption of volcano thousands years ago. I know, its location which is a bit far from city center make it a bit difficult to reach if you don’t have plan to stay overnight in Parapat, one of the city in North Sumatera Province that has share of beauty of this lake. Staying for one night or two is definitely not a bad idea. You would have to chance to travel to Samosir island, located in the middle of the lake. And don’t worry about accommodation since you will find many hotels and motels with variety prices and facilities.
Even though I visited this lake many times in my entire life, I put into the story when I accompanied my sister to visit her new work place which is located in Samosir island, which is exactly at the edge of the lake. While my sister did the site visit, I used my free time to explore the beauty of the lake again and again. To reach the lake, it requires four hour driving from Medan to Parapat. Don’t worry if you don’t have private vehicle or renting a car is too expensive for you, public transport is also available. But please, do not give great expectation about the condition of the bus. But, if you’re familiar with traveling by bus in developing countries, bus to Parapat is not so bad though.
This time, my sister and I decided to stay overnight in Tuk Tuk Siadong, a capital of sub district Simanindo. Tuk tuk is located in Samosir island that could be reached by boat from one harbor called Ajibata in Parapat. The journey itself would take approximately 45 minutes to one hour to Tuk Tuk Siadong. Along the way, we’re spoiled by the beauty of green hills and traditional houses along the lake. Some hotels in the island have their own private harbor. What you need to do was to tell your captain to put you down at particular hotel. At this visit, my sister and I chose to stay at Carolina Hotel, known as one of the best within the island. It has reasonable prices for its rooms and its location by the beach enabling guests to jump into the water anytime they want.
We arrived at hotel at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. It was not dark yet, but the cold was a bit chili due to the rain. Nevertheless, we still managed to walk around the island, enjoyed the fresh air that almost impossible to have in the big city as Medan.
The next day, my sister went to the field for her works. In the meantime, I used my free time to get some photos near our hotel. Some guests were swimming and some were busy with their canoe. After walking for sometimes and having my simple breakfast at the hotel, I packed up my things since we were going back to Medan in the same day. But before leaving, I wanted to visit Tomok, traditional village which is located at other side of island. I couldn’t go there by walk, and public transposition in Tuk Tuk Siadong cannot be lean on so much. Therefore, I took motor taxi to take me to the village.
In Tomok, visitors still can find some Batak Traditional House which has unique architecture shape. Every house has three parts, namely the bottom where it’s used to put some animals, in the middle where the family live in and on the top is the most important part to put the sacral goods. This kind of house is nearly impossible to find in the city.
In front of Rumah Bolon, the biggest traditional house in Tomok, visitors could also meet Si Gale – Gale, the famous puppet which famous history among Batak’s tribes. Once upon a time, there was a king has a son named Manggale. In one of the war, Manggale was dead that left the depth sadness for the King. Not long, The King became sick due to missing of Manggale so badly. In order to cure the king, the advisor of kingdom advised him to make a wooden puppet imitated the face of Manggale and made the ceremony afterwards. In ceremony, the witch doctor called the spirit of Manggale and put it into the puppet. For 7 days, the puppet would do the dances which accompanied by Batak Traditional music.
Some traditional souvenirs are also found easily in Tomok. The clothes, ulos (traditional scarf with Batak’s motifs), art crafts, bags, wallets and many more could be found there. The prices are varies and don’t hesitate to bargain. But, only bargain when you really want to buy something from the sellers.