Category Archives: Indonesia

Lake Toba, Medan , Sumatra , Indonesia

I went to Medan, Indonesia in February 2015. Well, my flight was pretty cheap from Malaysia to Medan, it cost me only 50 us D to and fro. And bonus is I went there with my Indonesian girl friend who is an avid traveler and also a blogger.

Dea is from Jakarta and her ancestors lived in Medan although she had  never been there. So she wanted to give a visit to Medan to look around for the first time. We stayed at Zaza zizi house in Medan which cost us only 15 us D per night. The chef Eva was very friendly and she gave us an excellent breakfast. I like the way they displayed quotes about food on the wall.



My favorite quote they display on the wall

Here is the Zaza Zizi Inn’s facebook page

Here is the acccount of Zaza Zizi

I recommend this hotel because it’s close to town center and can get money changer and shops near by. Please change your money before you arrive Lake Toba as there will be no money changer near Lake Toba.

I didn’t find any fascinating places to see in Medan. You just have to head for Lake Toba which is almost four hours drive from Medan. Luckily, we could get the coach via our motel . they told us we need to pay 100,000 Rupees by each person. In fact, they planned to send seven passengers together to Lake Toba. Unfortunately, the original group could not join us , but the driver didn’t charge us extra and on the way, I was feeling sorry for the driver as he would not earn much with only two passengers. But he was jovial and I gave him tips.

We saw lots of paddy fields, some areas of palm oil and rubber plantations and churches on the way to Lake Toba.




We arrived at the jetty and then need to get a boat to go to Samosir island . There are lots of guest house and hotels on the island. But we chose to stay at traditional house called Batak house  as we want authenticity. Our motel is called Hisar’s Guest house. They charged us 40 us Dollars for the whole house. Some tourists said it’s still expensive for Lake Toba, but we were quite happy as the house is cute.



Bataknese guest house we stay. These kind of house only exist in lake toba nowadays. They draw the design at the roof , door and window. They use red color for human, black for earth and white for God. 

you need to get in via this tiny door, ” be careful of your head”
very basic amenities of house, it’s not hot inside, outside is quite cold at night

There are some mosquitoes and you need to bring insect repellent. There is no air con and they don’t provide us mosquito net either.

Whatever happened in the evening and at night after struggling with blood thirsty mosquitoes, you will still be happy to see the view of lake from the balcony.

another Bataknese chalet near our guest house
The view in front of our chalet


perfect place for the girls to do Yoga
A perfect place for me just to be myself ” a lazy sloth”

Now, I am going to tell a bit about Lak Toba. It is the crater formed after eruption of a gigantic volcano. That massive eruption cause death of human beings until they almost extinct. Thank God, we are still here and others think the volcano can reactivate after many years. Below is the extract from wikipedia.

Lake Toba is the site of a massive supervolcanic eruption that occurred 69,000 to 77,000 years ago,representing a climate-changing event. It is the largest known explosive eruption on Earth in the last 25 million years. According to the Toba catastrophe theory, it had global consequences for human populations: it killed most humans living at that time and is believed to have created a population bottleneck in central east Africa and India, which affects the genetic make up of the human world-wide population to the present.It has 100 km length, 30 km width, 1666 feet depth.

Now , I am going to post lots of beautiful photos of Lake Toba.






Actually, if you are fit and like cycling, you can cycle around Lake Toba . The only drawback is you must put a lot of effort in uphill. I tried to cycle and could finish around 10 km, haha.

Another reason I enjoyed my trip is because of my Indonesian Girl friends. My friend Dea is from Jakarta and her friend Marni is originally from Lake Toba. Both of them are Batak tribe and they said they are open, brave and loud because they have so much of Bataknese blood in them. haha. Some locals said I look like Batak people too.

Its nice to travel with local girls who know about the place so well. My Indonesian friends said they have to know their tribe as inter tribal marriage was not allowed years ago.The beginning of the rule was Indonesian king married many women and they gave birth many children who were related to each other. Without that rule, they might have ended up marrying own cousins.
They told me that their bataknese people are agressive and straight forward. They were carnivores many years ago and still eating cats and dogs. My friend said she cried her heart out when she came back from holiday and having found out her pet dog was already eaten by her uncle. Apart from that, my friends are proud of their cultures and beautiful houses and very happy to introduce me to their amazing country for the first time. Its very nice people welcome heartily as soon as they speak bataknese which is different from Bahasa Malayu. Although I understand official indonesian language, I get lost once they start to speak Bataknese.

Previously, females did not cover their breasts. Not even queens. Women with nice breasts are chosen as queens regardless of face or other parts of body’s features. They used to believe women with beautiful breasts are fertile and can give birth to good men who will become good kings.  ( No, we didn’t find out any King there, shame on us, haha )

They also refer to breasts as mother. There are pictures of lizards and breasts . Lizards mean Bataknese people who can survive everywhere like lizards. However, lizards always move towards breasts where their mother exist.


We went to the show of dancing doll .According to the legend, the dancing doll was created by the King in memory of son who loves dancing so much. People can dance together with the doll and the music was very nice.


You can notice Batak people loves lizard. They think lizard represent them as lizards are tough animals and they can survive everywhere.

With the help of google, I found out another explanation of lizards association with Batak people. According to the legend, there is a Goddess who escaped from God world to the earth and she was followed by her suitor who is a lizard ( why lizard and why not dragon? I have no idea ) and they had two children, a boy and a girl. These children have incestuous relationship and from their marriage, Batak people arose. Their God parents went back to their world in heaven.

From Lake Toba, we headed towards Baristagi to go to Sipiso Piso waterfall, which is one of the highest waterfalls in Indonesia. The only thing is you should go there earlier as you need to climb up and down a lot of stairs to see the waterfall in close range.




Dea climbing stairs back after seeing the waterfall in close range

Our first plan was to visit  Mount Sinabung. Unfortunately, the volcano was erupting that time and we couldn’t climb that mountain.

ash spewing volcano from far

However, we still  proceeded to the Gundaling hill to watch the sunset and the eruptions of Mount Sinabung . Sinabung volcanos have been spewing lava and ashes since 2014. It was dormant for 1700 years but eruption started again in 2010. Every year the locals have to be evacuated as people died because of eruptions . Then we met a daring photographer who always climbs mount Sinabung to video tape the eruptions , as near as two kilometer away. Ten people behind him died when he was shooting his video. We gasped when we watched his video. Sadly,the local News Agent offered him only 10 us dollars for that video which he took risking his life.I hope he will get better price for that.

sunset view of Sinabung, nearby area was white due to falling ashes
the photographer who showed us his life threatening event of catching volcano eruption

From Barastagi, we went to the hot spring called Si debuk-debuk

It took one hour from Barastagi to go to hotspring. They have 10 pools with different temperature and you have to start from lower temperature to highest. It can be pretty hot and can see steaming vapor coming from the pool. I sat down at the side with my feet in, but not dared enough to go down. My driver said nobody gets scaled because of hot water and said it’s very theraputic and good for circulation. There is no entrance fee and it’s totally worthwhile as I felt frersh after long hours travelling.


One thing which makes our journey more enjoyable is we met two gentlemen from Singapore during our journey from Lake Toba to Baristagi. We hired the same coach which turned out to be driven by a rude and calculative driver. He dropped us at the middle of nowhere and don’t want to drop us near hotels or guest house. As a result, I had to carry heavy luggage and these gentlemen helped me to carry . It is a random act of kindness. Later, we found out they also travel extensively and the younger brother even traveled two years non stop.  We had a good conversation with them talking about places they have visited.

Now, I am thinking of Samuel and K 7 while I am writing this post.

Samuel, me, Dea, the staff and the guest house owners at Talitha guest house in Baristagi

Sometimes, I think of them when I take photos. They think we were crazy chasing for good photos while they only tried to remember scenery in their mind.

Well, I am surprised I am writing this after more than one year. Here is another story about Lake Toba written by my friend Dea. Dea is a regular travel blogger, she wrote beautifully about our journey to Lake Toba  and you can get more information there.

Then, I noticed  she also wrote about Batak food here.

This is the photo of Dea, wearing her traditional dress.


Thank you so much for reading.