Lake Toba, Indonesia


In a word: superlative.

Lake Toba is quite possibly the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. And I’ve seen a lot.

The scenery is intensely dramatic. And the photos do not do it justice. If this lake was indeed once a volcano, as the history books suggest then it was a monster volcano, because this lake is huge.

It resembles a Polynesian paradise more than I imagined.

There are no tourists here. This is one of those places I had to work very, very hard to get to. First, there was a 9 hour ferry ride across the Straits of Malacca. (Start at the link and move forward from there.) Then there was a night in Medan, Indonesia. My hotel was right behind the Masjid Raya. At 400am the call to prayers sounded out. The imam then proceeded to give his sermon, over the loud speakers for the next hour. I didn’t get to sleep until 630am, only to be awakened by my alarm at 730. I then caught a bus. And this was the absolute epitome of a chicken bus. It was jam packed, standing room only, no air con (I hadn’t had a shower in two days) and everyone, men and women, chain smoked the entire time. There were no pit stops and my bladder almost exploded. Not only did our bus driver have to dodge oncoming traffic on hair pin curves–and these are always intense in Asia–but he also had to dodge monkeys, hundreds of them running across the road every fifteen minutes.

But then we arrived. And when I jumped in the waters of Lake Toba from the balcony of my hotel (which is only $5 a night) and looked out around me I knew I it was all worth it.


Nota bene: I learned something very interesting about Indonesia, or at least Sumatra, last night. Whilst hanging out with an Aussie I met on the ferry I found out that women, here in Indonesia, are the aggressive ones, not the men. He and I were sitting at a sidewalk coffee shop (where I snapped this kitty photo) and at least five young ladies sat down, said “hello” and tried to chat us up. I asked him if they were working girls, as I was a bit befuddled. He said, “no way. Women here are the one’s who talk to the men, not the other way around.”

“I could get used to that,” I replied.

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