June 30- July  5

On the 30th I head back into Bukittinggi by local bus, a crowded affair and smoky with the heavy scent of the clove cigarettes that are smoked here. I hang out at Bedudal café for the day waiting for the bus that will take me overnight to Lake Toba. I get on the bus at 5pm (when it is supposed to leave) and we promptly head out around 5:40. It’s not a comfy journey, terrible seats, bumpy roads and a seatmate that likes to dig her knees into my back. We stop twice in 20 hours, once at a place with the most nasty, putrid bathrooms and appallingly shriveled and old food (why are these types of places the ones that are chosen by bus companies?) and once at a mosque, in the middle of nowhere, with another appalling bathroom, for sunrise prayer.

I arrive in Prapat early in the morning and take a share taxi to the port to get a boat over to Tuk Tuk, the tourist enclave of Samosir Island. The boat takes about half an hour and drops me almost right in front of the guesthouse I’m headed to (you can request your stop). I’m staying at Bagus Bay, recommended to me by someone I met in Bukittinggi. It’s turns out to be a good choice, I get a traditional Batak house all to myself, and it’s huge, I could live in the bathroom. Pretty chuffed.  Also the folks that work there are super friendly and helpful and I settle in quite quickly and end up comfortably doing nothing at all for a few days. I make some plans, booking flights from Medan to Banda Aceh and the return and also from Medan to Singapore. This isn’t easy as Lion Air’s website doesn’t want to accept my credit card and I spend 2 days just working out that mess, but finally succeed and have tickets in hand. Also staying at Bagus is a woman I met briefly when I stayed in Cherating. Her name is Eve and I enjoy hanging out with her and chatting. She’s been traveling for over a year now and it’s good to get her perspective on some of the places she’s been as a solo woman traveler, especially India as it’s likely I’ll be doing that on my own in 2013.

I take one day on a motorbike and drive around the island of Samosir. Tuk Tuk is a small peninsula that is basically dedicated to tourism and is attached to Samosir, an island the size of Singapore and a good 6 -7 hour drive to circumnavigate. Samosir is an authentic slice of Sumatra, a place with people living lives that have nothing to do with tourism, and I get to drive through and observe for a day. I’m riding with 3 German guys I have met and we cruise at a meandering pace stopping and taking photos quite often. There are a plentiful number of photographic opportunities, from amazing landscape shots to cute kids, pigs, water buffalo, Batak houses and the accompanying spirit houses for the dead.

|

Advertisements