We had never heard of this place until a few days ago. It is staggeringly beautiful. Squint your eyes and you could be on Lake Como.
We can’t understand why people aren’t thronging to this place. Its level of laid-backness is off the charts.
It’s apparently the largest volcanic lake in the world. When Toba exploded 75,000 years ago, catastrophe followed. Bad news for contemporary cavemen, good news for the modern holiday-maker. The Singapore-sized Samosir Island that now takes up most of the lake is a joy to hang out in.
The inhabitants are Batak. Batak people around here are non-muslim, which we’re sure contributes to the serene, relaxed atmosphere.
It’s so mellow, we’ve been here for four days and haven’t managed to move beyond Tuk Tuk, the little village where the ferry from Parapat arrives. It’s like the land of the lotus-eaters.
There are scores of tidy, well-kept accommodation options here. The food is excellent. The tiny four-room guesthouse where we first stay serves the best satay – the signature dish of Malaysia/Singapore/Indonesia – I have ever tasted anywhere.
We regularly spend time in the restaurant of the Carolina Hotel for its great WiFi . It is so clean, charming, and comfortable that I would gladly check in my own mother here. And that’s a ringing endorsement, believe us.
(For a cost of about $CAD35.00 a day. The place we stay is much cheaper.)
We don’t say people should fly around the planet to spend a week in Lake Toba. But we would definitely target urban dwellers in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore – intensely urban environments with high-pressure employment – to jump on a plane for an hour or two and decompress here. At a fraction of Singapore prices.
Also, the temperature is perfect. The altitude and location in the middle of the lake keep things comfortably cool. Especially after the hothouse atmosphere of Medan.
It’s a lake, not a beach. But it’s still delightful.
It’s a shame to see guesthouse after guesthouse – lawns trimmed, gardens watered, well-dressed friendly staff waiting to serve you – standing empty, when there are so many overdeveloped and exploitative places elsewhere in SE Asia that attract capacity crowds.
The only things that disturb the tranquility here are the boats that go from dock to dock. They announce their presence with loud, nonstop music blaring out at ear-splitting volume.
Maria usually rounds off the afternoons doing yoga at the waterfront.
This is the waterfront area of our current hotel. There are about four guests. It has about 35 rooms.
Who knows, we might even make it out of Tuk Tuk one of these days.
So if anyone within a 500 kilometre radius happens to read this, try to make it to Lake Toba. You’ll like it.
Sight or Insight of the Day – Lake Toba
The bus trip to Lake Toba is, um, interesting. We travel on the Sejahtera Line, which travels direct from Medan to Parapat. A five-and-a-half hour journey for the princely sum of CAD4.00 each.
This is the bus station in Medan. We’re a long way from the spotless terminals of Thailand and Malaysia.
Our bus has no air conditioning or other modern conveniences.
Having said that, we arrive at our destination in one piece and on schedule – which has not always been the case, even with fancier buses in SE Asia.