“Huh, why you go there?”
That was the most common reaction I got when I mentioned that I was heading to Lake Toba. It was a popular tourist destination when our parents were still dating, and has long been bumped off the list of trendy places to visit. But when Stef brought up the idea of going there for a short trip and I did a quick Google image search, I knew that I had to witness its beauty first hand.
The journey there isn’t what most comfort creatures would call easy. After the short flight from Singapore to Medan (SGD 223 via Silkair), it took us another 4.5-hour car ride (USD 54 one way for the whole car) to get to the lake.
But hell, was it worth it.
The lake is gigantic. It’s mind-boggling because it looks as vast as a sea. You couldn’t see the end of it, making it rather hard to believe that we’re standing on a landlocked area. Our main destination is in fact on Samosir, the island in the middle of the lake that’s almost the size of Singapore.
Whilst waiting for the ferry ride (USD 0.80 each) to the island, we were very happy to have a casual lunch at a local Nasi Padang stall. The total bill for the meal added up to a mind blowing USD 5.
We planned to stay for 3 nights, and chose Samosir Villa Resort for the first night. It was one of the more upmarket accommodation, and the chalet-like villa we got, that could fit a family of 4-5 comfortably, cost USD 125/night (including breakfast).
It was already late afternoon when we got everything settled, so we decided to take it easy for the rest of the day and headed out for an aimless stroll.
We wandered into Hora’s Family Home, which had a lovely backyard filled with unusual plants, a very healthy-looking vegetable patch, puppies, and rabbits.
The entire town seems to be half asleep, so we joined the lethargy by stopping for some drinks at one of the many convenience stores that offered everything from laundry service to magic mushrooms. There was an overly jovial (and we think slightly high) lady mending the store we settled at, and she mentioned that she rented out scooters too. We were planning to explore the island on our own the next day, so we took up her offer to try the bikes out. Everything seems to be in order, and agreed to take 2 bikes (USD 7 each for the entire day) for the 3 us. You simply can’t turn down someone with such an infectious laughter.
I went for a dip in the lake in the gloomy evening, and was quite disappointed as the waters were not only cold, but had strong undercurrents too. With the sun shaded by the clouds, it wasn’t that enjoyable to relax by the waters either. The impending darkness and gusty winds soon drove us back into the comfort of our expensive villa.
For dinner, we heeded Wikitravel’s recommendation and headed for Today’s Cafe. I really loved how laid back it was. Our order took damnnnnnnnn long to come as there were only 2 girls cooking and serving. We had special fried noodles and rice, as well as stir fired veggies with tofu. Together with my avacado milkshake with chocolate, the entire meal was nothing but glorious. There’s just something about South East Asian countries and stir fried carbohydrates. I always have to shake my head in disappointment every time I see a white tourist order Western dishes at a local restaurant. Anyway, the dinner cost us a total of USD 12 only!!!