|Welcome to Indonesia!!!|
If someone asked you what type of life you would like to have in this lifetime disregard the current place that you lived in, what would be your answer??? Well, apparently many people would answer the opposite from where they stayed right now. For example: people who stayed in villages, they would dream to live in metropolitan city; people who stayed in mountain areas, they would dream to stay near the beach, and so on.
For me, who was born and grown up in metropolitan city, once I stayed in mountain and village for about 3 years. That time I did not understand much yet about happiness, neither thought about it. Therefore, I found the place was terribly boring!!! But you know, I guessed millions people would dream of living in such place at least once!!! And yes, if you asked me now, I would still hope to go back there and stay there one more time. But forever? Perhaps not, because I still preferred to stay in tropical rather than four-season countries.
|Horas - traditional greeting of Batak Toba|
For the past 4 years I was lucky enough being able to visit and stay at the place of my dream. Recently I visited it for the fifth time. It took about 1.5 hours direct flight from Singapore to Kualanamu Airport in Medan. From Medan I still needed to take about two-hour car ride to Pematang Siantar. If went to Prapat (where the boat was docked to transfer to the Samosir Island), I would need another hour of car ride, plus about an hour boat ride to cross over the Lake Toba (the biggest lake in Indonesia). Yes, that beautiful place was called Samosir Island.
|Samosir Island - Indonesia|
Last year my relatives with families and friend built a place there to stay and I was very lucky being able to stay there for free and comfortably. The location was really good, about 15minutes walk from where we were dropped by the boat. It faced the lake (although not directly - you could go there in five-minutes walk), and at the back, it faced the paddy plantations. Depending on the season, sometimes it could be greenish and lovely. Sometimes it could be so dried. And sometimes you could see the plowing process using machine done by the farmer during plantation time.
|Fresh and cooling mountain air :)|
The air was cooling and fresh. There was no need to install air-condition inside the building. Just opened the door, it already felt like air-condition being installed (despite hot sun was shining above in afternoon time).
|Front and back view :)|
The rooms were simple and cleaned. Each was equipped with indoor toilet. If I were lucky, the room was even having balcony facing the paddy plantation at the back or big windows on higher floors that facing the beautiful lake. The highest floor was third floor. There was wifi as well although it didn't reach the back of the building. But it was good too so I could sleep early at night and having enough hours before the roosters started singing as early as 5 to 6 am in the morning.
Tell you, OMG!! At first I wasn't get used to it. When I visited Indonesia, many factors forced me to get up early in the morning. If city area like Jakarta, the sun started to rise at 6 am and by 7 am, the sky had turned bright and made the temperature warm. If the place that you stayed near the mosque (as majority of Indonesia population were Muslim), the prayers sound could be heard as early as 4.30 am. And another one was roosters sound.
It wasn't only one or two roosters around, mind you. Their numbers were enough to play orchestra from left to right. Hahaha... I felt like crying on my first night sleeping in Pematang Siantar, and started feeling regret of not sleeping earlier the night before. So when I reached Samosir, I told myself to sleep early - as early as 10 pm every night - to fulfill the minimum of 8-hour sleep, so I wouldn't get annoyed by the roosters sound, and instead, appreciated them more (no need to turn my alarm clock on).
|Mango season now|
Every morning when weather was good (luckily it was all good when I was there), I went for a morning walk at 6.30 am. I made a big round walking around the lakeside, with its ups and downs, passing by many guest houses, resorts, restaurants, shops, and so on. Not only that. There were abundance of fruit and vegetables trees too!!
|Learn various fruit trees here (dragon fruit)|
Durian, mango, avocado, passionfruit, candlenut, dragon fruits, winged beans, chilli, lemon, and so on. One of the motivation to walk that early was to find the fallen fruits from the trees. Hahaha.... You could always find a free one! :D But don't anyhow pluck the fruits of someone's trees. The owner would be unhappy with it!
|Huge lemon - gift by the house owner :)|
If you would love to have or even buy, you could ask politely to them. Sometimes they might just give it freely to you. But honesty was something that the local people there practise! Fyi, majority of people who stayed in the island was Batak Toba tribe and majority (93% of them) was Christian. It was generally safe to stay there. You could even leave your building wide open with vehicles being parked outside as no body would enter without permission, would never even think of stealing and robbing. They were friendly too. So it was another plus point to stay in the area.
|Pork steak and beer Bintang from New Tomok Restaurant|
The living cost was still very low (a plate of breakfast noodle cost IDR 8,000 (USD$0.60), a plate of pork steak cost IDR 40,000 (USD$2.90), and a big bottle of local beer (Beer Bintang) cost IDR 35,000 (USD$2.50). Batak people ate a lot of pork. Lomak - a local restaurant name - sold a very delicious babi goreng or fried pork - traditional Batak dish. Grilled fish and lobsters were also famous in the island. The main catch was their chili. It was spicy and delicious!!! So next time when you went there, please do not order "nasi goreng" or the famous Indonesian fried rice all the time!!! Instead, try any of their pork dishes and seafood!!! :)
|Weekend market at Tomok|
On Sunday morning I went down to the weekend market - near Tomok. You could find many fresh vegetables, fruits, fishes, even coffee powder there. Nearby there were rows of shops in traditional Batak house roof style selling shirts, souvenirs, sarong, Batik patterns clothes, shawl, etc. Just make sure to bargain and compare from one shop to another as they would open the price quite high and targeted much higher price to outsider and tourists.
|Souvenir shops at Tomok|
Motorcycle were available for rent. Not necessary to wear the helmet and it was not a very crowded place (except for the major holiday time such as: Chinese New Year period, Christmas, and Lebaran - Eid al-fitr). Just had to be careful as it was mountainous road that was full of ups and downs, some of you might not get used to it. You could explore the areas with it, or even on foot. Many beautiful spots in the islands and not forgetting the lake water sports like banana boat (when you're in a big group), speedboat, and so on.
|Laid back lifestyle :)|
For myself I would prefer to just relax in the building, reading books, and having cold beer. It was perfect for me :D
|Banana boat - Lake Toba|
At night it was very quiet except for the animal orchestras sound. Hehe... When the sky was clear, you could see many stars above. Drop of rainwater sound was soothing too. But the lightning was too much only. Hahaha.... scary.... :P
|Stone chair of King Siallagan|
There was traditional Batak cultural performance too in the dancing show Sigale Gale, Stone Chair of King Siallagan, etc. You could even learn the dance there. Nearby the area you could also visit the Batak Museum, to learn more about their history, culture, lifestyle and so on.
|Beautiful scenery from Hotel Silintong|
Well, I might not be able to purchase a land there, build the house and spend the rest my olden days there but I had already been feeling very grateful for the opportunity to go there and spend many valuable times over there. Could not thank enough for everyone who made this possible (you know who you were!!!).
With this post hopefully you know where to go next time to experience such a laid back life that was not so far from Singapore!!! :)