Medan Medan - Day 2

Continued from Day 1

Day 2
We'd an early morning breakfast before checking out and headed to Parapat, the town at the edge of Lake Toba. We stopped by to see the Sipiso-piso Waterfall. The waterfall originates from a small underground river that flows out to the lake's caldera. The name comes from the word "piso" which means "blades" as the waterfall seems to drop shards into the gorge below. You can opt to hike down but we were pressed for time so we settled for views of the waterfall and the lake. 

Our next stop was Permatang Pauh, a Simalungan Batak village with restored houses. Fact: there are many Batak tribes in North Sumatera but say Horas and you'll be greeted warmly! There are 2 paths to the village; the main one (in the open) was used by the chief, while the tunnel was used by the ladies. 

Traditional Batak colors of black, red and white adorn the houses. There's the chief village house where the many wives sleep and cook in a common, dorm-like area, and one wife will be called to sleep with the chief in a special "love room". The many buffalo horns on the pillar signify the status of the chief. There's a house with rice grinders; apparently when the chief wants a wife, the village girls will show their skill at pounding the rice and the chief will choose the girl with the best moving hips (I kid you not). 
A fire place for the wives
A sleeping mat
Musical instruments
Rice grinding exam
Grave of a recent descendant

All the talk of rice and buffalos made us hungry (kidding!) and we hopped on the bus to have ginger tea and fried banana at a popular hostel in Simarjarunjung. The tea and banana was nothing to shout about but the view spiked up my anticipation of seeing Lake Toba up close! The air was particularly chilly that day and the wind was biting. 

We drove down and had lunch at Silaturrahim Restaurant before taking a boat across to Samosir Island. Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world formed in a massive volcanic eruption about 70000 years ago. There's even the Toba catastrophe theory which claims the eruption caused a severe genetic bottleneck that affected the genetic make-up of the human population today. Samosir Island was formed due to re-filling of magma which causes the island to rise. 

Of course, the locals explained the creation of the lake and the island with a legend. Once upon a time, there was a simple huntsman who saved a giant fish. The giant fish turned out to be a water princess, and she promised she will marry him if he keeps her mystical identity a secret or a great catastrophe will occur. So they got married and had a son. One day the son got into a fight with his mom (or dad, I can't recall); mom asked the son to bring food to his dad working in the woods but the son ate it and lied to the dad that mom didn't make food. Angry hungry dad broke his vow and let slip his wife's identity, and the wife resumed her aquatic form and a great flood came upon the land, creating a giant lake. The son, filled with regret, turned into the island. 

What a story, huh? The boat ride was uneventful; the weather was breezy and we sat on the upper deck. 3 kids came up and sang a few local songs for us, so we gave some money as donation. We reached the Ambarita village and visited the tombs of the old kings. You can see the differences in the tombs' design as the village prospered and the religious inclination changed from animism to Christianity. The guide explained the history of the Toba Batak people; we were supposed to visit the stone chairs where judgement was served to criminals and they were sacrificed...as food to the villagers...but the weather did not permit a boat ride to the other side of the island where the stone chairs were located. So we shopped a little and checked in at Samosir Villa Resort. 

The resort was not as good as Mikie Holiday Resort but heck, it's only for one night. Plus we had grand plans to utilize the pool, so no complaints! With some time on our hands, we decided to explore the island. We walked along the road where we can see the surrounding lake and stopped by a bicycle rental store, rented a bicycle so we can cover more ground. Cycling around was a great experience; the air is fresh and village life is so simple and pure here. There's fields with grazing buffalo, rising hills, the lake shimmering under the setting sun and homes where life just roots itself on this island in the middle of a crater lake. There are many shops selling local artwork and wood sculptures, so you won't have to worry about coming back empty-handed! 

Tip: The bicycle rental store also provides motorbikes and 'magic mushroom'. The latter is mushroom that is found in buffalo dung. Black mushroom = don't eat. Yellow mushroom = magic. This fungi is cooked with eggs into an omelette and it's safe to eat but beware its hallucinogenic properties. Further down there's a local restaurant, buy the sak sang there. It's a local pork dish and served with rice. We'd buffet dinner then took a swim in the hotel pool. We then engaged local masseuse for 1.5 hr body massage with oil. Tip: I didn't enjoy the experience very much because she massaged me on the bed and the pillow was soft so I couldn't support my head so I'd to turn my head to the side just to breath and this was uncomfortable. So much for a relaxing body massage...on to the last day

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