Friday, 12 November 2010

Danau Toba - where time stops

Not far from Berastagi is the beautiful and vast Danau Toba, an incredible expanse of water with one of the most relaxed atmospheres of anywhere I’ve ever been to. Taking the ferry across to the island in the middle of the lake, we settled into our guesthouse for a couple of days of relaxing and soaking up the calm.

Our accommodation was a traditional batik house right at the water’s edge, extremely peaceful with only lapping water and the enthusiastic singing of the local residents to break the silence. Despite our initial plans of exploring the island and going out on the water, our recent pace finally caught up with us and we were content just swimming in the lake (which was cool but thankfully not cold), wandering around town, and eating the most amazing BBQ fish and pork which seemed to be the local speciality.

During the whole of our time in Sumatra, everyone we met was kind – giving directions and advice freely, smiling and greeting us warmly – but none as much as on this lovely island in the middle of the lake. I wasn’t surprised when I read that travellers ‘get lost’ for weeks or even months there – I would quite happily have stayed for longer (and probably have doubled my body weight with all the delicious options on the menu…).

All too soon it was time to return to Medan and the fast-paced life of a city, although the ferry ride back was certainly a jolt to the senses – the wind had picked up and the boat pitched sharply with the increased waves, giving everyone on board a rollercoaster ride. Getting back onto solid ground was definitely appreciated, even if it did herald the start of a 5 hour car journey.

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