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.
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?
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