A Travellerspoint blog

Lake Toba, North Sumatra

Samosir: Volcanic Island


It proved to be quite an uncomfortable overnight journey from Bukit Lawang to Lake Toba; in a car in upright seats, bumpy roads and the occasional snore from Jason. We arrived in Parapat in the early hours of the morning, nothing was open, it was pitch black and rather cold. Eventually a little cafe opened and we all had a nasi goreng (fried rice) breakfast, which seemed to cheer us all up no end.


The ferry across Lake Toba was a traditional wooden boat and brightly painted. Unfortunately there was an annoying tout pestering us (which is not good when you're talking to a group suffering from lack of sleep). We each kindly told him "thank you for your information, but we're going to view other accommodation and then decide which one we want to stay in"...he wouldn't take this for an answer. I was struggling to keep my cool and had to turn away. Luckily he gave up and we were able to enjoy the beautiful lake view and catch a quick nap on the boat.


If you look on a map the island of Samosir looks incredible; it was formed from a volcano eruption and the lake now lies in the middle of its caldera. Lake Toba is huge and Samosir Island sits in the middle of it and is the size of Singapore. Most people stay in a village area called Tuk Tuk; with plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops to keep you occupied on an otherwise very sleepy island.


We ended up getting rooms at Liberta Guesthouse. Me and Jason viewed our room, which was empty at the time of our arrival, and based on our lovely wooden bungalow with hot water agreed to spend two nights here (at £4 a night we couldn't believe what we were getting for our money).


Unfortunately the boys didn't agree... When their room became available they nicknamed it the "crack den"... Oh dear! They had a wooden hut with cold water and squat toilet, Rich's mattress was on the floor and an ant problem. They were only paying £1 each a night. Liberta's Guesthouse itself was really nice; on the lake, nice little seating area for breakfast and friendly staff. I think mine and Jason's standards have definitely lowered as we've stayed in a lot worse accommodation than their hut for more money... nevermind, they survived the ordeal with only a few mosquito bites.


I made every attempt to stay awake for the day. We enjoyed breakfast at Liberta's and then took to the lake for a dip. I paddled out a little way but got a bit panicked by the plants floating in the lake. I tried really hard to keep my eyes open but had to give in and had a little afternoon nap. We all ended up catching 40 winks and then reconvened for a walk around Tuk Tuk in the evening.


Tuk Tuk's quite pleasant; although there's not a lot going on, it is still very picturesque and laid back. We wandered around for a little while, taking in the views and working up a hunger. Weirdly, there were signs for magic mushrooms everywhere, but don't you worry, me being straight laced, I told the boys that I'd be extremely disappointed in them if they tried them and instead veered them in the direction of normal food instead.


We found a restaurant with cheap beer and bbq'd fish where we spent the rest of the night eating and drinking. We had beer galore, a huge fresh fish, nasi goreng and the best chilli/lime sambol ever!!!! We need to try out this recipe at home. As if all that food wasn't enough we then called in at another restaurant for homemade donuts and coconut cookies... delicious!


We'd planned to have one full day on Samosir and so chose to explore it on a motorbike. I pulled the short straw and had to drive around on my own bike...I quite enjoyed it really. Jason had Rich on the back of his bike because he can't ride a bike, not even a push bike, but surpringly asked if he could practice on a scooter... Jason's face was a picture at his request... Don't worry, the boys managed to persuade him out of practising on a motorbike and he remained a passenger for the whole day.Don't you think Sam looks like a Lego man in his motorbike helmet?! Haha, it was the only one left.


We drove through traditional villages and admired their batak architecture.


The boys stopped for a swim next door to the water buffalo's watering hole. I didn't fancy sharing a bath with a buffalo so instead took some photographs from the beach. The water is volcanically heated and the boys said it was warm and occasionally they felt bubbles underneath their feet.


We had nasi goreng for lunch and coconut by the lake.


And took in the views of the lake and its volcano.


We only had time for one whole day at the lake, if we'd had an extra day we might have done a fishing trip or hike to a waterfall, but to be honest it's a very sleepy place and you can get a sense of the island in just a few hours.


Just before we flew out of Medan we had one evening free to experience a little of what Medan had to offer. When you drive into the city it's a crazy busy, heavily polluted, sprawl of run down streets and I wasn't looking forward to venturing out from our hotel room to get some food. Everyone we crossed shouted "hello mister" or stared at us for an uncomfortable amount of time as we walked past them. We'd managed to find a cafe just a short walk away from our hotel and sat in their dirty plastic seats on the edge of a very busy road. We made out a few words from the menu, like "ayam" (chicken) and "nasi" (rice) and when our order came had a table full of delicious freshly made food. One of my favourites was the stuffed sheets of pastry/roti mix that had been deep fried and then dipped in chili sauce (the boys even ordered seconds). As if the food wasn't enough to make us all smile, we then had a very interesting form of entertainment from a local girl... I can't quite describe the concoction of songs or dance moves or facial expressions, but even the locals seemed to find the whole performance very amusing. From dreading an evening in Medan I ended up quite enjoying my myself and found all of the locals to be extremely friendly.


Posted by bloorsontour 00:56 Archived in Indonesia

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


We're glad you're straight-laced Sophie xx

by the wrinklies

So glad I didn't have to use a squat toilet!! Xxx

by mutsi

Love the little houses. Really unusual. Xxx

by ma and pa

Hi, we meet back in Kabak Turkey last year, we have been following your adventures, I was in Lake Toba many years ago but the boat trip across the lake doesn't seen to have changed at all.

by Sue & Michael

Hi Sue! It's so lovely to hear from you and that you are reading about our adventure. When's your next house sitting holiday? Hope you and Michael are well x

by bloorsontour

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.