A Long Journey North

Written by Kristine, Co-Director, Jakarta

I decided to go to Lake Toba for my August days off based totally on the recommendation of a friend.  I did a little research and made my arrangements to go.

Lake Toba is located in the north of the island of Sumatra – that’s the same island where Aceh is located.  Actually, technically Aceh is located in the northernmost section of the island but since they basically consider themselves separate and independent from Indonesia, Aceh is Aceh and the area below it is north Sumatra.  Go figure.

samosir-ferry-office

Anyway, Lake Toba is located in north Sumatra.  In the middle of the lake, there’s an island called Pulau Samosir.  Yes, you read that right – there’s an honest-to-goodness island in the middle of another island.  Samosir isn’t a small island either.  It’s a properly large island with mountains and everything.  The entire area was formed by the eruption of a supervolcano tens of thousands of years ago.  Lake Toba is actually filling up the volcano’s caldera and the volcanic activity pushed Samosir up out of the caldera and formed an island.  Seriously, isn’t nature amazing?

samosir-dead-ahead

So this area was where I would spend my 4 days off.  Getting to Samosir would require a 2 and a half hour plane ride, a 4 hour drive and a 1 hour ferry trip so I booked a 5 am flight to Medan.  To get to the airport on time, I left the centre at 2 am.  Of course that meant I barely dozed for an hour before I got up again, worried that I’d sleep through my alarm and miss my flight.  After a thankfully incident-free ride to the airport (the cabbie drifted off once and I had to wake him up and eye-drive the car from the back seat for the rest of the way).

I had decided that to get the most out of my 4 days, I would have a driver.  So we found each other at the airport and, after a quick stop for a cup of tea, we set off for the long drive to Lake Toba.  I slept for the first 3 hours of the drive but I woke up for the best part – when we got near to the lake and the views started getting beautiful.  By the time we got to the ferry, I had found my second wind.  Since the car had to go with us across the lake, we would be taking the car ferry.  After an hour of waiting, the ferry came and we drove aboard, along with other cars, buses and trucks

loading-the-ferry
Before I knew it, another hour had passed and we were driving off the ferry and onto Pulau Samosir.  By this time, it was just after 3 pm so my driver dropped me off at my hotel with instructions for what time he would pick me up in the morning.  I had planned to wander around the area a bit but a heavy tiredness came down on me so I had some gado-gado at my hotel (it was loaded with lettuce and was pretty good) and went to bed at a ridiculously early hour because by that time I had been up for about 36 hours.The day had been long but I had enjoyed my travel process and I was happy with where I was.  I was surrounded by beautiful views, I was on an island in the middle of another island, my bed was comfy, my room was clean and my food was rice-free.  I had absolutely no complaints.

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