I’ve headed down to Danau (Lake) Toba, still in Sumatra. Getting here from Bukit Lawang was interesting in itself. I’d met up with about six other people who were heading that way, and we found a tourist mini-bus to take us. When we got to the town that is the departure point to our island destination, we were told that the ferry was full, but there would be another one in an hour and a half or so, but in the meantime why don’t we relax in my cousin’s restaurant. Well, we’d been in a cramped minivan for four hours and there was no way in hell we were standing for that. We demanded our ferry tickets from him, ran over to the ferry that was just about to depart, climbed on, and found it nearly empty.
After a pleasant half hour ferry ride we decided to stay at a guest house that was recommended by one of our fellow passengers. We figured he was probably getting a commission, but he didn’t try to rip us off so we didn’t mind at all.
I’d started feeling strange that morning, so I decided to make it an early night. The next day I wasn’t feeling great, but after a few aspirin, I was up to renting motorcycles and going out for a tour if the island. This was my first time ever driving a motorcycle, and I have to say I feel really bad for my passenger Eve. She and I got dumped off of the bike more times than we really should have. I’ll say that the roads were lousy, but there was really no excuse other than the fact that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. 🙂 Anyway, when we weren’t falling off, it was a great day of biking. We saw nearly all of the island on a combination of paved and dirt roads. We realized towards the end of the day that darkness was catching up with us, so we decided to take a shortcut all the way across the island…our map showed a road, but about halfway thru we realized that it was no good for bikes at all…too many steep muddy hills that these bikes just weren’t designed for. We ended up backtracking a couple of hours, and finally found the paved road just after nightfall. It would have been slightly safer, except for the fact that Indonesian drivers don’t like to use headlights at night…For some reason they figure that they know the roads well enough, and it’ll save money. Luckily we had our lights on full blast, so that usually pissed them off enough to at least flash their lights at us, which at least alerted us to their presence.
The island is a beautiful tropical paradise in the middle of an ancient volcano. The water is up to 300 meters deep in places, and crystal clear. During the day it can get quite hot, and a quick dip in the lake is the perfect remedy for anytime you start to feel even the slightest bit warm. The local construction style is very unique. There used to be a tribe called the Tomok that was native to the area, and the local buildings still follow the style of construction.