Why hello Lake Toba, you really are pretty, aren’t you?

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I’ve just returned to Medan from spending three days at Danau Toba (Lake Toba) in North Sumatra, which is a five hour car trip from the city. Wow. It’s the world’s largest volcanic lake, set 900m above sea level, and in the middle of the lake is an island the size of Singapore. So I stayed in the town of Tuk-Tuk, set on a peninsula on this island-within-an-island, and spent my days swimming, relaxing and walking around the village, spying the pointy curvy roofs and traditional Christian churches of the local Batak people.

You’d never guess that the erupting volcano that created this stunning, peaceful lake some 70,000 years ago apparently changed the world’s climate and, according to some scientists, killed most of the humans alive at that time.


The Bataks are extremely hospitable and friendly, and are very happy when tourists come to see the place they call home.  Not just to get money out of them (though of course there are many people trying to make a living out of not-enough tourists here, like in many parts of Indonesia), but also because it broadens the range of hearty conversations had in the cafes and bars in the little towns on the edge of this huge lake.  Batak men seem to be permanently attached to their guitars, so in the evenings, it is possible to hear acoustic music floating on the breeze off the lake, down the streets and through the village, from boats, piers or shops.  At one warung I went past, a large group of men sat singing together, two on guitars, the others singing in absolutely beautiful harmonies.  I asked one if they were in a choir and he said (impeccable English is spoken by so many here too) “nah, we just like to hang out and sing.”

Many of the Batak boys are bold and cheeky, and rather flirty, so for groups of women or solo women travelers they might seem a bit forward, especially compared to the manners in some other parts of Indonesia, but I didn’t have any problems at all and found them very respectful, even in their cheeky way.

I got so much into the chilled vibe in Tuk-Tuk that I forgot to take my camera out with me most days (also because I swam a lot).  So I was a bad photographer.  But it is a beautiful place (as well as very affordable) and I’d highly recommend it as a very relaxing holiday destination.



6 Responses to " Why hello Lake Toba, you really are pretty, aren’t you? "

  1. Peter Marwood says:

    Hi Ashlee, hey I hear you’re that Dikkiman/Achmad Sudarsono guy over at Indonesia Matters ! You seem to have that Oigal guy wound up pretty good. I think a lot of your posts are funny, but I don’t agree with all the anti-Bule stuff, although it’s probably meant to be tongue in cheek. Good luck with your journalism.

  2. Ashlee says:

    Hi Peter,

    That’s not me at all, I totally disagree with that guy, he’s a disgusting misogynist in everything he writes. I only write for the Jakarta Globe in Indonesia.


  3. Oigal says:

    Sorry Ashlee if you think my little rant was directed at you. I to try and wind up Dikki tho and make no apologies for that. There was never any doubt in my mind that Dikki was not you as he/she is not Australian

  4. Ashlee says:

    I don’t care who your rant was directed at or what you do in your free time, even though it was disgustingly misogynistic and fat hating, two things I stand strongly against. I have no regard for what the boozed-up washed-up Blok M bule barflies of Jakarta think of me and I haven’t given a damn since… oh… right around the minute I stepped off the plane. Unlike many of them, I arrived in Indonesia to work, travel and learn, not pick up hookers and pretend I was running some sort of noble one man NGO in the process.

    I only care that my name isn’t wrongly associated as being an author of the kind of tripe that idiot posts on the internet.

    If any more of this crap flows on over to my blog, it will all be deleted. You have Indonesia Matters and JakChat, surely that’s enough space on the internet for you all to act like immature schoolboys.

  5. Oigal says:

    Gee, if you are going to delete then would it not be fair to delete all not just some comments. If that is your response an apology then delete it as well thanks

  6. Ashlee says:

    Wow, wouldn’t it be fair if y’all stopped talking trash about me at Indonesia Matters on an issue I have nothing to do with and no desire to be involved with?

    Oh wait… life’s not fair, is it?

    So you can take your delicately bruised ego back over there where you and all the other boys can play with nobody to alert you to the fact that you are Neanderthals. If you want a woman to stroke your ego and accept apologies for your reprehensible behavior while batting her eyelashes, head to one of the numerous entertainment areas in Indonesia where many woman are forced into that pattern of behavior by their disparate social economic status and cultural expectations.

    You will get no apology from me, just the delete button.
    .-= Ashlee´s last blog ..Cool rooms for cheap — Indonesia and Malaysia accommodation recommendations =-.