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Berestagi, Lake Toba & beyond

On the jungle trek we met some really cool people, an English guy called Joe and two Austrian girls called Veronica and Merriam who were heading in the same direction as us so we decided to travel together to our next destination Berestagi. We had to catch two local busses and travel almost all day to the volcanic region.
On the bus I made friends with a group of giggling Indonesian girls who wanted to practice their English. They were so funny calling me ‘miss’ all the time and wanting a photo, I felt like a celebrity! When we arrived we found a place to stay, which was over looking the town.

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The next morning we all hiked up Sibayak, a volcano of about 2000m. Most of the track was a steep tarmac road that took us through a few small villages with kids coming out of their houses to shout ‘hello, hello’. Close to the top the terrain changed to a rocky, sulphur stained ‘mount doom’. The stench of sulphur was something else and as we got closer to the summit steam was violently spraying from various holes in the volcano.

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At the top we took some pictures then headed off down the other side. An initial steep climb led onto a never-ending series of steps down to a small village where we were supposed to get the bus back to Berestagi. We were running out of time and our guesthouse owner said we could get buses back easily from here. Unfortunately this was not the case and we were told by locals that we had just missed a bus and buses run every hour and take an hour to get to Berestagi, this was not great news as we only had an hour to get back to catch our next bus!
So, not feeling too optimistic we started walking hoping some twist of fate would transform our current problem. A few cars passed and we had no luck getting them to stop and then a lovely couple stopped, they told their 3 kids to sit anywhere else but the seats and all 4 of us got in. The journey took just over half an hour and we made it back just in time to catch our ride to Lake Toba.

Roads in Sumatra are rubbish and after 4 hours of backbreaking uneven lanes through the forest we eventually reached the outskirts of the main volcano and wound our way around the lake edge before arriving at the small town of Parapat, where we would get the ferry over to Samosir.

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The ferry only takes half an hour and before long we were chatting to a local who recommended us the guesthouse next to his. After a short walk when getting off the ferry we arrived and were pleasantly surprised by how nice our new home for the next few days was. We unpacked and set about getting some food and a beer with our fellow travellers to make up for the journey.

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Over the next few days we didn’t really do anything, it was so relaxing just reading outside watching the fisherman in their boats on the lake. In the evenings we would have a nice dinner with our friends and the family who owned the guesthouse, have a few beers and sing Oasis songs with the locals who popped in.

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On our second to last day in Toba we all rented mopeds and explored the island with our guide, the guesthouse owners nephew. We visited temples, old houses and experienced incredible views of the lake from the crater rim. Paul was surprisingly good at driving the moped with me on the back, especially for his first time. On the way back it was a bit scary as we had to drive a short way in the dark, traffic isn’t bad here but there are a few very large trucks on the very thin roads. And a dog almost ran out in front of us which made me scream! We did make it back alive though and enjoyed our last evening with our travelling buddies. Lake Toba was defiantly a highlight of Indonesia, I don’t know why its popularity as a holiday destination has been lost but I would recommend it to anyone, it is also VERY cheap.

The next morning we said goodbye to our friends, it had been so nice and refreshing travelling with a small group of people, I kind of wish we had done it before, and then we got the boat back to Parapat to then got the bus back to Medan.
We stayed one night in Medan before catching a morning flight to Jakarta to stay with Paul’s friend Will for the weekend.

We arrived in Jakarta in the afternoon and were picked up by Wills driver. This was real luxury for us!
We just chilled out on the weekend, swam in the pool, visited some of the gigantic shopping malls and had some good grub.

The last stop on our SE Asia trip was Singapore. We only had about a day and a half here, so we made sure we had a good walk around the city. The F1 Grand Prix is coming up next month so we saw them putting up the grandstands and fences and walked around some of the street track.
Singapore’s seems like a great place to next time we’ll have to give ourselves more time and money to see it properly!

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The next day we had our flight to Auckland in New Zealand. We arrived at the airport early but unfortunately our flight was delayed, we weren’t too annoyed as Singapore airport is quite cool.

The flight wasn’t too bad and we both got some sleep. We are now in Auckland and have just bought a car, heading up north in a couple of days.

Posted by LeahPaul 01:08 Archived in Indonesia

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