Sumatra

Published on January 10th, 2012

5

Lake Toba, Sumatra: A Lesson in R.E.L.A.X.A.T.I.O.N.

Rolling into my 9th day here in the little village of Tuk Tuk on Somosir Island in the middle of Lake Toba, Sumatra – the largest volcanic lake in the world.  Surely a record for me to hang out so long in one spot when I’m on the trail.  Ah but after a lifetime of flitting like a hummingbird whenever I dropped into a new land, I’m reveling in the simple pleasures of “slow travel”.  Staying put awhile, and learning to spend day after day, doing pretty much nothing at all.

Well o.k., I did hire a motorbike driver to whiz me to the north side of the isle for the weekly Wednesday “market” at Panguruen on the west coast of the island – a dazzling schmorgasbord of exotic tropical fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and… brassiers!

(Click on any of the thumbnails to start the slide show…)
 

Another day I visited the local Batak museum and bought myself a most interesting (and for this minimalist backpacker, rare) souviner. A hand carved bone inscribed with the fascinating Batak calendar.

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Vroom… vrooooom!

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And of course there was the monumentally amazing day when dear Gaol, the manager here at the Samosir Villa Resort kindly took me out to a grassy vacant playfield on his (automatic) motorbike and…  though I was scared to death, within minutes, this ol’ lady was zoomin’ (albeit a bit shakily) round ‘n round ALL BY MYSELF!

But that’s about as energetic as I’ve gotten here in more than a week.  Mostly – I’ve just been spending my days in crushing toil requiring the most arduous executive decisions about:

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A. What shall I have for breakfast? And more importantly, at which sweet little outdoor cafe shall I choose to loll away my morning?  This morning it was a “Banana Taco” but more often than not, I favor the island museli with fresh, homemade yogurt, crispy coconut and a HUGE bowl full of chunky tropical fruits.
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B. What shady corner of my delicious Samosir Villa Resort digs shall I curl up in and read my Kindle?  The chaise by the pool?  The mahogany swing by the edge of the lake?  A cushioned perch overlooking the water?

C. Where shall I stroll for lunch (and what delightful new Indonesian delicacy shall I order?)

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D. Shall I take an afternoon nap?  or splash in the swimming pool?  And furthermore, what tropical milkshake – papaya? chcolate avocado? tamarind? watermelon? pineapple? banana? shall I sip as I sun after my swim?  And finally,

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CardPlayers350x326E. How shall I while away my evening – playing dominos and sipping homemade palm wine with the locals? Chatting with a few of the more interesting foreigners scattered about (two likewise ol’ lasses from Denmark, a couple of Aussies, etc.)?  And of course the most arduous chore of the day: will dinner be “gado-gado” (a traditional Indonesian concoction of vegetable, tofu and tempeh smothered in peanut sauce)? blackened grilled fish, freshly caught from Lake Toba?  Aubergine Curry? Cap Cay (Indonesian stir-fry)?  Chicken Satay? or… how ’bout roast suckling PIG?

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I tell ya, it’s a culinary bitch.

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Worse, the room is a mere 15 bucks per night, a meal’s under $3, and the wifi here by the pool – strong and reliable.  I mean seriously, it would be easy to drop out here for months on end.

Ah but soon all this lovely decadence will be behind me, and I too shall be truly toiling like everybody else ‘cuz…  ILA in Saigon did indeed offer me a teaching position.  And although I wrestled with whether or not I should take it (for I’m reeeeeeealy anxious to settle in my beloved Dalat) – in the end I accepted the job (a 6 month contract that I can break with just 30 days notice, teaching about 12 hours per week, and likely at least a class or three of little ones).  ILA is one of the best schools in Veitnam and it will be excellent experience for this brand-spakin’ new Teach.  Besides, Dalat will still be there in 6 months so there’s no rush…

Meanwhile, today I ferry across the lake to Parapat, then a taxi to Medan (about 4 hours), a final night at JJ’s guesthouse, and tomorrow I fly back to HCMC via KL.  As my new teach job starts on 1 February, that gives me about 3 weeks to find a new place in Saigon (hopefully with a KITCHEN!!) and settle in for the next 6 months.

Lots more pics of my holiday here in Sumatra.  Once I get them all edited, I’ll upload them to my “Through the Eyes of TravelnLass” gallery.


About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!



5 Responses to Lake Toba, Sumatra: A Lesson in R.E.L.A.X.A.T.I.O.N.

  1. Thanks for writing about a place that seems to really be for as you clearly state in the headline R.E.L.A.X.A.T.I.O.N as that is the kind of place I am looking for. So inspired by your post here I am absolutely going to Lake Toba!

    • Dyanne says:

      Thanks for dropping by Anna, and yes – Lake Toba could easily qualify for an annual R ‘n R hangout. Beautiful, plenty of cheap, comfy digs, and on a “touristy” scale of 1-10, I’d give it about a 4 (and that’s a compliment!)

  2. I see you were faced with the same difficult decisions I was on my visit to Lake Toba–even more, actually, since I only had a hammock on my little porch, while it sounds like your hotel had numerous options for the lazy.

    But I did struggle daily with the food and milkshake/lassi decisions. In the end, I ate a lot of grilled fish at Jenny’s. It was by far the most expensive meal of my stay (around $5! that’s 50% more than my room!), but I devoured at least four of those things a week. I figured I had enough $1 gado gado and cap cay to make up for the spurge. Don’t you just love countries where $5 on a meal is ‘splurging?’
    Daniel McBane kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Lake Toba: The Day I Traded my Hammock for a MotorbikeMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yep Daniel, sheer drudgery I tell ya – day after dreary day of those chocolate avacado milkshakes and freshly caught, crispy grilled fish – ugh!

      And your little hammock on the porch sounds utterly divine. I don’t usually spring for such opulent digs as Samosir Villa, but – I was treating myself after a g-awful month of C.E.L.T.A. he-!!.

      Honestly, I do think I could easily make Lake Toba an annual mecca (well, o.k. but for that ghastly minibus ride from Medan, yes?)

  3. Terrific, well done. Could almost taste the food!

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