Lake Toba, World's Largest Supervolcanic Lake

Date of visit : 20-22 March 2010 
Destination  : Medan/Lake Toba, Indonesia

Just about 2 months away, I am departing to Indonesia again. This time, I am not visiting Java Island, but Medan and Lake Toba in Sumatra Island, west of Peninsular Malaysia. In fact, it is not my wish to travel nor it is in my plan. It is a spontaneous decision due to the stress and hardship that comes to me. I just need to find a way to relax and relieves from those “tragedies”.

Once again, we are taking MAS, cost RM169.00 per person for return trip, departing from KL to Medan, the air fare is cheaper than AirAsia, certainly I would go for the better one. 

Once we touched down Polonia International Airport, we proceed to take cab to the Bus Express Terminal. We were expecting taxi driver to send us to the terminal, but he is recommending us to take mini van to Lake Toba as taking bus would be very troublesome. We felt that we kinda like being cheated by him, we paid the taxi fare at a fixed rate IDR50,000 but he is not taking us to the terminal, but dropping us at a travel agency which is not really far from the airport.

After checking with the travel agency, we find that the cost is kinda alright, so we paid about IDR90,000 per person for one way trip. And I was so naïve, thought that we will be taking air-conditioned van like Toyota Unser, in the end, we are taking a very old non-air conditioned Mitsubishi van. Bad bad bad…

The journey from Medan to Parapat (jetty of Lake Toba) takes approximately 5 hours. Majority are already complaint for taking 3-4 hours in AirAsia flight, imagine that I am sitting on a non-adjustable seat, without air-conditioned, no in-flight entertainment, for at least 5 hours!! Luckily the driver makes a stop at a small rest station. We were hungry but there is nothing to eat, we only can buy some snacks and ice-cream to kill our time and boredom while waiting for the driver to eat.

About 4 hours later, you will know that you are about to eat when the van is going uphill, you can feel the cool breeze and seeing many buses coming from the opposite. Especially when the van is approaching Lake Toba, the lake doesn’t look like a lake, but SEA!! It is big yet hazy and cool, you wouldn’t know if you are 2800 feet above the sea level.

We were sent to a restaurant named Pondok Karen in Parapat for lunch and meet up with the person-in-charge of the travel agency. He then asking us about our trip and of course pushing on sales, persuading us to get a return trip to Medan or airport. After the discussion and bargaining, we eventually agreed with the offer, IDR80,000 per person, taking the same Mitsubishi van, sigggghhhhh……………………………

After lunch, he guided us to the jetty. Staff from our accommodation Samosir Cottages named Padi also came to the jetty to guide us there. Cost for the ferry is IDR7,000 per person, and for the accommodation is IDR145,000 per room per night. We were totally amazed by Lake Toba as it really doesn’t look like a lake. The temperature is less than 25°C and contains high humidity. In the middle of Lake Toba is Samosir Island. Lake Toba was created due to a massive explosive eruption of super volcanic over 75,000 years ago. I assumed that was the “2012” that revitalize the world?!

Foods there are not expensive at all, we were underestimate the foods there. On the first night, we dine-in in our accommodation, we ordered “Nasi Ayam Rendang” and “BBQ Seafood Rice”, and a glass of Avocado juice. The portion of each dish apparently is more than enough for 2 persons, and we ordered 2 dishes, meaning it is enough for 4. The avocado juice is also 100% freshly squeeze, without adding water or ice. The thickness is really there and you will definitely be easily satisfied, but seriously I can’t stand the thickness, I ordered a glass of ice and obviously I can make another 2-3 glasses of avocado juice. The cost of the rice is about IDR23,000 per dish, avocado juice is around IDR18,000. Whenever you go Indonesia, PLEASE, REMEMBER TO ORDER their signature beer BINTANG!! It is produced by Heineken, taste good!!

 On the second day, we woke up very early just to catch the sunrise moment. The scenery is amazing yet beautiful, relaxing and giving you peace and calm. 

We then rent a motor to explore the secret of Lake Toba. We rented the bike from about 11am-700pm, cost us about IDR120,000. We riding on the bike, visiting the town, Batak cultures and museum, paddy field, mountain and even took a challenge to sit on bike for 2 hours, to visit "nothing-to-visit" hot spring on the north of Samosir Island. Riding on motor is not something easy for us. We fell down 3 times and the last one is the worst ever, as we fell on the bridge which is about 7 feet height, if we really fell into the river, I guess we would be dead. 

The people there are great and kind enough, while the business operators are always concerns about money. 

On the last day of the trip, we were supposed to leave early in the morning, so I purposely make all the payment the night before we leave. We also get Padi to arrange a transfer to another port, where the ferry will depart at 730am. However, on that early morning, we found out that no one is in the front desk nor office, apparently the arrangement was not being scheduled. We then met the Manager/Owner Mr. Bloom, we told him our situation, then he offered us a transfer by using his Innova. In the car, we were shocked when he asked "have you paid for this trip?". We were not told to pay for such transfer when we checked with the person-in-charge earlier. I replied "No, but we have paid everything last night before we officially checked-out this morning." He then drop us at the junction instead of sending us further. He was requesting us to walk further down then on the first right of an alley, turn right, then we reach the jetty/port. I am definitely shocked and upset.

When we got to the jetty in Parapat, we are facing another issues. The travel agency is trying to "push" us to car pool with other passengers from other travel agency, car offered are Toyota Unser, but we were requested to pay extra IDR30,000 per person as upgrade fees. We felt like being cheated again, and eventually I bargained for IDR20,000 per person. Of course, we were sent to Polonia International Airport in Medan 2 hour earlier, we even have extra time to sit and dine in Dunkin Donut.

One month after I came back from Medan, I received an email from Mr. Bloom of Samosir Cottages. In the email he was saying that he reserved a room for me, however I did not show up. I was very upset to see this. It is more than enough to proven that everything is “about the money”. I’ve had much interaction with him, I couldn’t find any reason that he would not remember me. You’ll be the judge. Click on the photo to enlarge the email he sent to me (highlighted in blue)

 Total cost of expenditure for 3D2N trip is less than MYR360.00 !! Cheap ler?!

第 3 & 4 篇 : 走访印尼世界自然遗产 Discovering Ancient World of Indonesia III & IV

[ Chinese version temporary unavailable due to the errors of Chinese input in my PC ]

第3篇 : 走访印尼世界自然遗产  Discovering Ancient World of Indonesia III
January 31, 2010 – Malang / Mt. Bromo

We reached Surabaya Gubeng Train Station around 10:30pm, which is later than we expected. We were worrying if we are able to reach Helios Tour office to join the Bromo Midnight Tour in Malang by 1:00am. Without much consideration, we had come up with an emergent planning, we will take cab rather than bus to Purabaya Terminal (aka Bungur Asih).

The ethics of the taxi driver is also similar as in Malaysia, rather dealing an amount than using the meters. I was bargaining with the pricing and eventually I agreed to pay him IDR42,000. Fortunately my calculation was right. When we reached there, the meter was showing IDR42,500, if adding the parking fee of IDR2,000, by right I should be paying him IDR44,500. The taxi driver must be amazed and impressed, he even stopped his car along the road and help us to catch the bus to Malang. Eventually he managed to lead us to the last bus from Surabaya to Malang around 11:40pm.

The journey doesn’t take too long, approximately 1:30 hours for the midnight drive. The only thing I could not accept is the bus is a 5-seater per row. The seats are so small and definitely not meant for obese.  It was so packed till you have to walk horizontally, just like a walking crab.

Once we get off the bus, we took cab to Helios Tours office. Surprisingly, only both of us will be joining the trip to Bromo. After simple cleansing up, the English-speaking tour guide Budi and driver Harry is about to bring us to the peak of Mt Penanjakan and Mt. Bromo.

I have checked several tour recommendations online on the routes to Bromo. However, our time is very limited and I certainly do not want to miss out such opportunity to visit Bromo. That is why we are sacrificing our sleeping hours. To those who need to sleep or bring a sleeping beauty, such midnight trip is not recommended.

Other than the spectacular view and cradles of volcano, Mt. Bromo is still an active volcano. Once you climbed up the stairs to the peak, you can clearly see the sulfur smoke came out from the cradle, also you can clearly hear the sounds of "activities".

Photos speak more than words. Take a look at the breathetaking photos taken by us.
In the afternoon, other than the introduction of not very popular attractions, Budi and Harry brought us to the last destination - Singoraja Temple nearby Malang Town. We thought that Is the end of our journey in Malang, but Budi and Harry did something beyond our expectations. They brought us to the city centre of Malang, where it is a combination of CBD, recreations and administration.

Before we are leaving Malang, we asked Harry to drop us at Gajahmada Graha Hotel. The hotel look exactly like a castle more than a hotel. Although we don't have the chance to spend a night, we decided to have our lunch in the restaurant named "Cleopetra" in this beautiful castle. Every thing looks great, only the food turns out to be otherwise, it is not that awful but comparing to my cooking skills, I dare to say I am MUCH better than their cook.

After having our disappointing lunch in a “castle”, we took mini bus (in fact it is a very mini van) that cost us IDR3000 per person to Malang’s Arjosari Terminal. Before entering the bus ticketing counter, you have to pay a nominal fee of IDR800/1000, then you can proceed to any ticketing counters to purchase your ticket. We have decided to take on-the-spot and ready-to-go executive class bus. Don’t be too happy when you heard that it is a business or executive class bus. Compare with our buses such as Konsortium or 4-seater Plusliner or Transnasional, they are even worse. Just imagine that you have a squeeze a little bit in an executive class bus for the journey that takes about 2-3 hours, and the air-conditioner is not working fine, it cost IDR15000.

When we reached Surabaya’s Pura Baya Terminal, the time is already 6 in the evening. We decided to take public bus that only cost IDR2500 to our accommodation, Mercure Surabaya Hotel. It is a 4-star hotel managed by world’s renowned hospitality Accor, the cost per night is only RM150.00, booked via There is nothing much nearby the hotel, however, we were told there is a moderate shopping mall right behind the hotel, operating 24/7, so you don’t have to worry if you are hungry and needed to buy souvenirs, the store has everything you need, just make sure you bring enough cash, lolxxxx

Since we have not much time and the night is still young, we took a cab to Surabaya’s largest shopping mall Tunjungan Plaza. The mall is bigger than I expected, you can find lot of international brands, however, not every boutique are offering prices lower than KL.

Surabaya, to me, is a great city with Chinese and friendly Indonesian. Comparing to KL, I think I like Surabaya more.

第4篇 : 走访印尼世界自然遗产  Discovering Ancient World of Indonesia IV
February 01, 2010 - Surabaya

Today is the last day staying in Indonesia. It is my first visit, though you can see the gap between poverty and wealthy, one thing you can’t deny is they are very friendly. Years ago, they might had hatred and discrimination towards foreigner and Chinese, right now, what I can see is harmony.

Before leaving the hotel, we were camwhore at the lobby. I thought that we might reach the airport on time but I was really wrong, the journey took longer than I expected and it is definitely far away from the hotel. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the airport.

Though we are taking Malaysia Airlines, however we started to feel panic as we know we might “missed” the flight. When we reached the check-in counter, we faced another problem. Everyone who is leaving Indonesia must be paying Departure Tax (Airport Tax) of IDR150000 or RM70 per person. When we heard that, we were shocked and helpless, because we DO NOT have enough cash. We took out every notes and coins we have, either in Indonesian Rupiah or Malaysian Ringgit, it is still insufficient.

Without wasting more time, I went to the ATM and trying to withdraw cash by using my credit card, but the transaction was failed due to wrong password. I even called the bank and talked on the phone for so long, seeking solutions and assistances from them but to my surprise, they are NOT ABLE TO RESET PASSWORD for me. I was very pissed and disappointed by this “World’s Local Bank”. I used to work in world’s renowned charge card company as Authorisation Analyst and I certainly know they are able to RESET MY PASSWORD.

Half way I was begging for assistance on the phone, my friend and a custom officer were looking for me. My friend told me that the custom officer has granted us the approval to check-in with the cash we have on hand. We both were so thankful and glad that he is giving us a very helping hand. Otherwise, I’m gonna miss the flight and spending more, or maybe we will be locked-up in Surabaya.

I’ve learned a lesson, better safe than sorry. It is best to have more cash either in own or local currency on hand than facing troubles.

U N I Q L O = S I E N L O
U N I Q L O = S I E N L O (Boring in Hokkien)
This blog was supposingly to be posted by Nov 04, 2010 but I have overlooked it in my draft. Sorry for the delay.
This blog has no intention in defaming or offensing anyone or any parties. Condenming yourself is totally out of my control. I am just sharing my opinion. If you like it, THANK YOU. If you don't like it, you may ignore this posting.

If Malaysia Boleh, then Malaysian must be Boleh, but I wonder how many Malaysians really Boleh?!

I think majority of Malaysians are just too naive, they are Boleh because they always follow the trends. Seeing what you are using and going after, everyone will be doing the same, so what is the difference with Kiasu Singaporean?

Uniqlo is coming to Kuala Lumpur (Already officially launched on Nov 04, 2010 at Fahrenheit 88 Plaza), apparently they claimed that they are CHEAP JAPANESE FASHION. Majority of Malaysians are so crazy about it, keep joining and talking about Uniqlo before it is coming to town. Even Uniqlo's Facebook can get more than 20K fans before the official launch date.

Okay, you know Uniqlo is the cheap japanese brand, but how many of you know about Uniqlo  MALAYSIA? How many of you know about origin of Uniqlo? I am pissed when I saw some wannabes posted "Uniqlo is Singapore's famous brand, they are coming to Kuala Lumpur". When I read the online news about Uniqlo will be hitting Malaysian shores, I was happy but I am also disappointed right after I got to know DNP Clothing is the franchisee (although business formation is known as joint-venture perspective with 45.00% stake). I am disappointed because I knew that prices of Uniqlo clothing in Malaysia would not be as cheap as in Japan, HK and other countries. Why do I say that?

First, DNP clothing is a member of WingTai Asia from Singapore. To be frank, I hate Singaporean's Retail Management due to their egoness, disrespect and autocracy. Thinking they gonna offer the price like HKD99 = MYR41.25 (conversion rate of MYR1.00 = HKD2.40)? You should be thankful for not charging you HKD99.00 = MYR99.00

Second, DNP Clothing is also franchisee of TopShop, TopMan, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Diva . Comparing the prices of TopShop in UK, after conversion of Pounds Sterling to Ringgit Malaysia, do you see the differences? Yes, apparently the conversion rate is also much higher than the market currency rate.

If you are telling me that they have to take other facts such as freight, taxes and etc into consideration, bear in mind that the cost of these type of FAST FASHION is cheap and franchisee would have rights to choose and import any designs from the outsourcing manufacturers from China, Vietnam, and etc. Best example, you can find exactly the same made-in-China design from Forever 21 in TAMAN CONNAUGHT PASAR MALAM.

Throughout the period of mid of October to 7 of November, my Facebook wall was flooded by annoying "Uniqlo" fans, it's either the photo before or after their opening, that's why I called "S I E N L O", basically it mean "boring to see it". Seeing so many people who have bought Uniqlo are as proud as they have just returned from war with victory. Also, keep telling others "how cheap" they have spent, in fact, if they just need to have to get to know a little knowledge, they wouldn't have been fooled.

If you think queuing for 2 hours to get in, an hour to try out the clothes and 2 hours to make the payment is simply worth it, then go ahead. All you need to remember is if you are staying in KL and majority have also bought the so-called best selling T-shirt (e.g. Mickey Mouse), the chances to bump into someone (or more) wearing the same design, I have no doubts. 

Think twice before you go for it. To me, it is not worth buying in Malaysia.
心意 比不上 手信 Materialism Speaks Louder

[ English version, please scroll down ]



Q: 问一问大家,你们出国旅行时,回国前,会不会买些手信给好朋友呢?
A: 我会!

Q: 但通常你们买的,是不是属于较负担得起(因为人数问题),也可能是他人都已经买过的Common Gift呢?
A: 对,我的就是。

我自问我出国次数比他人多,而且无论多没时间,我每一次都费尽心思、绞尽脑汁地在想,送这些给他们,他们会不会嫌弃?所以我买的要不是当地的食物,就是比较不一样的Common Gift。而且我一直在想,好朋友嘛,应该不会那么计较。

也因为此次的旅游去得比较远,兑换率也很高,所以心想买Common Gift,再加点东西在Common Gift上,变成Special Gift, 应该不会嫌了吧!



食物,因为标榜着是当地出产的土产,我本身也没吃过,更不知是什么味道,只是因为没买手信,所以就选择了食物,也可以与大家分享。如果是我觉得真的很难吃,我也会点到即此,譬如甜了点,或不是很合胃口。而不是“很难吃”伤人话 。很难吃,你要我负责吗?


话虽说大家都是好朋友,应该不会介意,一次无所谓,两次依然可原谅,三次就免了! 凡事情站在他人立场想想,也想一想自己是否有资格去批评他人的一番心意!


2010(至今日)的旅游册 (算一算我的"心",也算一算我的"刺")
一月 印尼- 日惹、婆罗浮屠、玛郎、婆罗摩山、泗水
三月 印尼- 棉兰、多巴湖
五月 印尼- 巴厘岛
九月 中国- 上海、苏州、杭州
十月 澳洲- 墨尔本、Silvan、Phillip Island、Ballarat、Lismore、Camperdown、Port Campbell、悉尼、黄金海岸

There was once I typed "Let's see who will be condenming in my next blog post" in my Facebook.

In fact I just wanna telling my frustration, I'm not pointing at anyone, however such incident is always happen, perhaps that is human being, but should behaved.

Question : When you are travelling overseas, do you buy souvenirs to your friends when you return?
Answer : I would!

Question : However, the gift that you've bought normally could it be an affordable common gift to you and it may have been bought by others?
Answer : Yes, that's what I bought.

Straight to the point, I was travelling couple of times. No matter how busy I was, I always trying my best to figure out what souvenir to buy for my friends. At the same time, taking certain facts into consideration to make sure they won't be complaining. Hence, I will buy either local foods or customised common gift. Moreover, I keep telling myself, they are my best buddies, they won't be mind.

On top of that, I was travelling further this time, and was striked by the high conversion currency too, that's why the customised common guft came to my mind immediately, make it as a "Special Gift", so that it will looks different from others.

Unfortunately I was wrong. Some of them did not say a word but from their expression when they first sighted the gift, I know what's on their mind. They are only minority voice out their dissatisfaction that is consider harsh to me:-

"I have got many, it's a routine buy for those who went there, I don't even know where to place this"
I bought a heart, an appreciation. It represent our friendship and your status in my heart, however, I did not get any words of appreciation but criticism. Will you only be satisfied with goldsmiths? How would you feel if you were me?

"The food is disgusting"
Reason I bought food is because it is a well-known local product, moreover, I did not buy any other souvenirs. I haven't tried it before, so I was thinking maybe I can share with them too at the same time. Whether the food taste good or not, it is totally out of my control, definitely not my responsibility as well. If I were them, though the food is really awful, I will only briefly telling them that I can't get used to the taste or just a little sweet and etc. You wouldn't find me saying the harsh word "disgusting".

Apparently I am hurt when your besties saying that to you. But I am hoping them to recall their memories if they have done the job like I did, re-think if they are qualified to criticise others.

Though we are good friends and they might think I should not get mad over these. However, I would like to strongly emphasize that if such incident happen for the first time, I will be ifne. If it repeat as second incident, I am still fine. But why do you need to repeat for the third time when you had done it for twice?!

My 2010 Travel Log (You may know how much is my appreciation, and how much of criticism I get in return)
Jan - Indonesia --- Yogyakarta, Malang, Mt. Bromo, Surabaya
Mar - Indonesia --- Medan, Lake Toba
May - Indonesia --- Bali Island
Sep - China --- Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou
Oct - Australia --- Melbourne, Silvan, Phillip Island, Ballarat, Lismore, Camperdown, Port Campbell (Great Ocean Road), Sydney, Blue Mountain, Gold Coast
[点图放大] 就是她!“AirAsia机票很便宜,买机票回中国了吗?”






Jamal在某极端卖华眼里 (,他被说反华人的种族主义者;在某极端污桶眼里,他被说成出卖自己人的反骨仔。有脑的人都知道,如果Jamal是反华人,那么他又如何能在988里当收听率高的早晨清谈节目主持人?不怕被华社或卖华搞(其海报、广告等到处可见)吗?

本土100%制作的“马来西亚电影”,因为没有60%的马来文,却被标签为“外语片”,以征收高达20%的税收。这和新经济政策有关吗?为何要有如此的标签?想当年本土最感性的导演Yasmin Ahmad所拍摄的Sepet,虽然是100%大马制作,但就是戏里的马来文不足60%,而被列为“外语片”。我可以说电检局不爱大马人以行动说“我爱马来西亚”吗?

本地专才以非土著居多。他们到国外发展,却被说成不爱国。试问非土著的发展空间大吗?拥有五十三年经验的帼镇,除了要我们谨言,有时还要禁言! 我虽然很想外国专才回马(毕竟我也有亲人及朋友选择外国或邻国),但我比较希望的是他们可回来投票。



自娱自语 之 正面思想


简单一句 - 谦虚 / Humble / Rendah Diri

人生嘛 就是如此 毕竟有上后必有下



如果看不进眼 那就别看
我已清楚写明 “自娱 自语
别老是对我兴致勃勃 穷追不舍啊!
走访印尼世界自然遗产二 Discovering Ancient World of Indonesia II


日惹 Yogyakarta - 婆羅浮屠 Borobudur - 婆罗摩火 Mount Bromo - 玛琅 Malang - 泗水 Surabaya










接下来的行程是市区游。走一走,遇上多名三轮车夫,我们觉得避之则安之,就是因为贪小便宜吧,结果上了一名车夫的当。车夫说只需5,000印尼盾,他会带到我们环绕市区,参观五个地点,然后回送我们到火车站。但 这五个地方不是卖东西的就是博物馆,只要我们买东西或给入门票,车夫就可从中得到佣金。所以有些我们根本没兴趣的地方如博物馆等,我们都取消了。后来可能是我们花太多时间在当地的画家上,车夫不知是赶时间还是什么的,竟然打完斋不要和尚,要我们自己想办法到火车站。我们却硬要画家代我们传话,而画家也要求车夫带我们到火车站。上了车后,我们真的上“车”了!离开原地不到500米,车夫把我们丢给另一专业车夫(背后有合法公司操作)。

到了火车站,火车已经在等待了,如果我们在稍迟5分钟,我们肯定会错过此班次。此班次是前往泗水 (Surabaya),大概需要五个小时,我们硬逼自己睡足五个小时,但可睡两个小时已经算不错了,毕竟火车到了泗水,我们的行程就是一直走下去,没多余的休息时间。而且火车又摇摆不定,而且喜欢中途停车,我心想,如此一走一停,犹如三步一下跪,那我们需要多久时间才会到达泗水呢?

结果花了5小时30分我们才到泗水Gubeng站。因为时间越来越紧凑,已经是十时四十分,我们必须从这儿搭的士前往Purabaya (又称Bungur Asih) 巴士站。在那又遇上了讨价还价的的士司机,谈了蛮久的,最后我献意42,000印尼盾 (40,000车费 + 2,000机场停车费),司机才肯接受。还好我预算满准的,司机在行驶前开了计程表,而到达巴士站时才42,500印尼盾。说我们赚了,我不否认,当我只会说我们没亏本,而且还有“额外服务”。


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