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?!

6 Responses
  1. 嘿嘿 Says:

    So brave you are travelling Indonesia without tour and pre-arrangement!Amazing that you dare to take that kind of transport。

    Well written! Nice shoots!佩服!

  2. Go Smerv Says:

    Everything is new and must try. This is so so only, the next one is about Bali, China then Australia.

    I bet you will be sweating if I', telling you that I never planned for the 11 days trip there, lolxxxx

  3. lock Says:

    so many cheating cases happened on u in lake toba, thanks for your info sharing!

  4. small-ugly Says:


  5. Go Smerv Says:

    lock, im stupid mar

    charles, yeah, can explore, not bad

  6. Nice writeup about your trip to Medan. I am going to medan with my family members of four the same way as you, your info certain helps a lot. We have booked flight and hotel,cost me about RM1300. How much do you think I need to pay for transport and food for 4D3N for four person?We plan to take public transport.

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