Phayo, Franche-Compte, Elounda, Jum

Temptation struck again

Temptation struck again…. but it’s bye for now, Lake Toba.

300 year old Batak House

Fortunately, the lake is easy to get to. It’s only a 4-5 hour drive from Medan Airport in North Sumatra. Do yourself a favour and choose the easy transfer option to get to there- a shared taxi directly from the airport to Parapat: Where else will you be picked up with your name on a sign for a 4.5 hour trip, for $7?! Bagus Taxi (Tel. 0625 41747) offers the most reliable service, (although the cardboard sign thing didn’t work for us. I had to search around for our driver- found help in the tiny tourist information bureau outside Arrivals). Another favour you can do yourself- do not attempt this trip on a Friday afternoon, unless you enjoy monstrous traffic jams…….From Parapat take the ferry to Tuk-Tuk, Samosir Island: Every hour, 7.30 am- 6.30 pm, 10’000 Rupiahs for the one hour trip. Alternatively, catch a local bus from Medan town to Parapat.

There is a surfeit of accommodation available in Tuk Tuk. If you know where you’re going, the ferry will drop you at the nearest pier. We stayed at Romlan Guest House for $8.50 a night, stupendous lake view included.

Tuk Tuk peninsula is very walkable and luckily the dogs are as relaxed as the people! Apart from walks, hikes, swimming, boat and kayak trips, you can rent bicycles ($2) and motorcycles ($7-8) to explore the island and the adjacent mainland. BEWARE: Roads are partially steep and bad. Traffic is thinner than on many Sumatran roads, but this just leads to careless driving. M. had a bike accident that could have turned out much worse, and terrible motorcycle accidents are not a rare occurrence.

There are plenty of restaurant/warung choices; many are family run, so it’s hit or miss as to how gifted a cook you choose. Pizzeria Rumba is owned by a Swiss -Batak couple and serves decent food. We can also recommend Jenny’s and a small place called Maruba

Restaurant Maruba

Iku is a good cook, and her husband Tomson will sing and play for you, when he’s in the mood…. We also frequented the German Bakery at Tabo Cottages, for the sunsets

Tabo Cottages Sunset and Cappuccino

and the only Italian cappuccino in Tuk Tuk.

Now a word to the wicked witch, (mentioned here), in this fairy tale  Once again we’re talking about the evil presence of pollution- non-existent or dubious waste removal, sewage processing etc. This is a major theme in a country that by all reports is booming. The boom is painfully lopsided… We’ve heard conflicting information about how polluted Lake Toba really is, and internet research did not yield current information. This is what we found….

What we didn’t find were follow-ups  on any of the projects we read about….

We are also not hopeful that new state-funded ecological or educative campaigns are in the pipeline, quite the opposite actually: The disgraceful happenings on Sumatra

On a brighter note- there are whispers that a Unesco World Heritage delegation- might be looking into the Lake Toba area next year, so maybe positive change will come from that direction? All we can say is- Save Samosir! It’s a brilliant place, with beautiful scenery, strong cultural traditions, and, most precious, the proud and engaging local population. Lake Toba is definitely one of the most undervisited destinations we’ve ever been to:

Samosir Impressions

It is what it is

Swimming before Walking

Like Eden?


As Eden-like as we can?

A very down to earth Eden

Thank you, for come back…. Terima Kasih.

Boy waves good bye- or hello?

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