Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Medan To Lake Toba

19th - 21st August 2011.

Friday - We almost missed our flight that morning. The cab that took us, ran out of gas just 10 minutes away from LCCT. He told us that he thought he would have enough gas to take us to the airport, hence didn't see the need of refueling before our journey began.

We stood at the roadside, waiting for the cab driver's friend to save him (or us) by picking us up and dropping us off at the LCCT.

His friend grumbled along the way, wondering why couldn't the guy have sufficiently refueled before the long trip to the airport.

At the airport with 30 minutes before the gates closed, we had to beg the counter to accept our baggage check-in and then made a run towards the departure hall.

Poor parents-in-law! It was like a family version of The Amazing Race with all the stress and running involved. ;D

Arriving at Polonia International Airport Medan, our tour guide and driver whisked us off to visit Istana Maimoon. It was built by Sultan of Deli in 1888. Its unique interior designs reflect the influence of Malay, Indian, Spanish and Italian style.

We left Medan and made our way to Brastagi, stopping by at Mikie Holiday Hotel for lunch. Nothing fancy, just some dishes to be eaten with rice. (see top pic below)

There was another couple who were part of our tour and soon we realised that their presence made it a bit awkward for us: the husband never uttered a word, while the wife would do her best to chat with my in-laws. It was really weird!

After lunch, we proceeded to Brastagi and checked in to our hotel, the Grand Mutiara Hotel. The balcony in our room opened up to the gardens, tempting us to go out and play instead. But it was drizzling.

Our guide brought us to the market selling fresh fruits and vegetables and plants. We looked around but bought nothing.

That hairy puffer fish-like fruit caught my eye. After a quick walk around, we took shelter at a stall selling corn on the cob. The couple sat far from us, and separately. Really weird!

Dinner was the usual awkwardness at the hotel.

Saturday - The next morning, we made our way towards Lake Toba. First stop was the Sipisopiso waterfall, located at the North side of Lake Toba.

Misty morning at the Sipisopiso waterfalls. Everyone took an opportunity to use the loo with small fee.

The waterfall is a 110m drop from a cave opening. There were steps leading closer to the waterfall but as we weren't given much time to explore, YB and I couldn't get close enough to the bottom.

Next, we dropped by Pematang Purba to visit the old Simalungun Batak Long House. Only Batak tribe chiefs display a bull's head on their roof.

The Simalungun Batak Long House is also known as Rumah Bolon.

We proceeded to Parapat and stopped at Simarjarunjung to taste their ginger tea, served with banana fritter.

It was the banana fritter that was the deciding factor for us. Well, my in-laws enjoyed their ginger tea. It was too strong for me, honestly.  Brrr!

It cost Rupiah 14,000 per serving, I think.

Arriving at Parapat shortly, we took the ferry/boat to cross the lake to Samosir Island.

We soaked in the sights of Lake Toba.

And then the boys started singing ... which was quite bad, to be honest. I knew they were going to ask for donations. =P

We first visited the Ambarita village to see chair stones.

A different type of longhouse, compared to the Rumah Bolon.

Don't you think the statue overseeing the donation box reminds you of Punch, of Punch & Judy?

From there, we stopped by the Tomok village to see .. erm ... something.

There were many souvenir stalls along the way but nothing fancy really caught our eye. I bought a scarf, along with the mum-in-law, who did her best to haggle. I also bought a tshirt from an old lady, although I really didn't want to buy it as she refused to give me a new one.

Another stall owner wanted to exchange money with us as she had accepted Malaysian Ringgit from a previous customer. The MIL obliged her.

We then checked in to Niagara Hotel, which offers a great view of the lake.

We realised that both the hotels we stayed had no lifts, causing us to walk up and down the stairs. Pity the porters and old folks.

We also wondered why their notes tend to end up disgustingly 'kiam chai' (preserved vegetable) like. Ugh.

Dinner was no biggie. We couldn't find a place to sit around and chat as there was no lobby for guests to mingle. There was only a lounge for guests to mingle, provided you ordered a drink.

Sunday - The next morning after breakfast, we had to check out to make our way back to Medan.

The breakfast buffet was full with rowdy visitors, queuing up for fried vermicelli and rice, eggs and cereal.

It was long and bumpy ride back to Medan, about 4 hours of torture. We only stopped along the way to buy some souvenir biscuits/candy from Teng Teng.

We didn't get to visit the kuih lapis or kuih bika bakeries. =(

There was plenty of trishaws on the road but I think it would be madness to take the trishaw and get stuck in traffic. 

Our guide dropped us at one of the shopping malls in town where we found a food court to partake our lunch. Hmmm, it was the only time we could get a taste of their Indonesian dishes like soto, fried ikan keli and ayam penyet.

The 3 days 2 nights trip was just right, with too much free time on our hands. Besides Lake Toba, there really wasn't much to see along the way. It so happened that a few of my colleagues had also recently went to Medan to visit Lake Toba as well and they too, shared the view.


  1. I always have this fear of going to LCCT. Always something bound to happen; usually unforseen circumstances.

    Is Lake Toba worth the trip? I heard Medan is a good spot for cycling and hiking?

  2. It would be a reluctant 'yes' on my part, as it's too slow pace. The journey back from Lake Toba to Medan was 4 hours of bumpiness and a sore neck. It wasn't really comfortable at all.

    However, it's pretty cheap for a weekend trip. The tour cost us about RM400 per pax, I think, and this includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner.