Sunday, December 30, 2012

Medan - Berastagi - Lake Toba Family Trip

As my parents didn't get their holiday this year, I decided to go somewhere nearby as a family, somewhere we've never really thought about going. So we settled on a  4D3N tour to Sumatra, Indonesia to cover Medan, Berastagi and Lake Toba.

Someone asked where Medan is so here's the Google map just in case. It's just a 50 minute flight west off KL.


Scouring the internet for information, I found that there wasn't really much trustworthy details that I could rely on for my usual trip planning. I found that I am not very comfortable without trains (Paris, London, Japan had good train systems which became the backbone for our planning). 

I decided to ask my husband's cousin who's working in a tour agency. She quoted me a price I couldn't refuse and it seemed, well, safer to go on a tour.

So here's a brief overview of where we went. Our first day brought us around Medan, covering the Maimun Palace. What's interesting here for me was that the Sultan, who's a teenage as his father passed away in an accident rather young, has no powers except for ceremonial. 


Right after that, we went to the Al-Mashun Grand Mosque. It is a beautiful structure. And, shy to say, it's the first mosque I've ever stepped into. 


Thereafter we went to a huge Buddhist temple called the Vihara Maha Maitreya (hehehe, thanks to KS for his research in his blog post on the trip). I had just woken up from my nap in the bus en route so I didn't take much photos there. 

After picking up another family from the airport (there were 20 of us in the bus!) and lunch, we rushed off to Berastagi. Berastagi is a little town in the valley between two volcanoes. Unfortunately, we didn't visit either of the volcanoes nor did we do much sight-seeing except for a short stop at the fruits and flower market. The roads to Berastagi is windy, narrow, steep, full of large vehicles and it was raining. I was so glad we weren't driving on our own!

The fruits colours were extremely vibrant! The carrots were the orangest I've ever seen, the red peppers a fresh red, it was amazing! There were several fruits I've never seen before either. Alas, I'm not adventurous when it comes to food so I didn't buy to try.

Colourful fruits and vege!
Mum went a little nuts over the bulbs and flowers.

We were quickly brought back to the hotel to check in and have a quick dinner before calling it a night. It was very cold that night as it was raining. Plus, there wasn't hot water at first so I was shivering so badly I could hardly wash my face!

Gaya eh? Dad was so tickled to pose like this.
Dad insisted we take one with us standing in a row. With us are some of our tour passengers.

Moving off quickly, we journeyed to the Sipiso-piso waterfall. It's quite impressive if only we had time to go nearer.

From here, the waterfall looks like an endless big drain but it's 120m tall!
There was also a fantastic view of the northern tip of Lake Toba. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't so cooperative so the view was rather grey.

Along the way, we saw loads of trucks with workers heaped upon fertilizers on their way to farms.

As we made our way to Parapat, where we would take a boat to Samosir Island to stay the night, we were greeted by magnificent views of the lake. Couldn't capture the views from the bus. Saw a large fish along the way. It's not open to public but the owner built it as there is a legend about a large fish which goes something like this (very condensed version of what I remembered the guide telling us):

A young man caught a large fish and was happy to have caught it for food. As he brought it back, the fish spoke to him and begged him to release it and that his wishes will come true. At that point, he was pursuing a love interest but the girl wasn't interested in him. So the fish told him he would meet a beautiful woman who would love and marry him.

Confused, he walked out of the house and when he returned, he was greeted by a beautiful woman. The fish had turned into the woman. She cautioned him that he should never tell anyone that she was originally a fish otherwise a disaster beyond his imagination will occur. 

Well, they got married and had a kid. One day the kid, who's duty was to bring his father his lunch, forgot. By the time he arrived, the father was extremely angry and scolded him, "You really are a son of a fish!". 

Of course the wife found out and wept so much that the lake begin to fill with her tears. Hence the birth of Lake Toba.

The fish structure.

Our boat ride to Samosir Island took about 45 minutes. The lake was calm that day so it was a good ride.

Lake Toba

Just as a comparison, Samosir Island is larger than Singapore. It sits in Lake Toba and has only about 20,000 people living on it due to the mountainous terrain. They are mainly the Batak people. Lake Toba was created from a volcanic eruption ages ago.

Map of Lake Toba

Our first stop was to the tombs of the Batak kings. In the picture below, the oldest tomb is the one on the right followed by his grandson (second from left) and the last one which is the tomb on the left. By that time, Christianity was introduced to the Batak people and hence the last tomb is a Christian tomb. 


We then got onto the boat and were brought to Ambarita Stone Chair Tribal Village.

Traditional Batak houses.

See the space at the bottom of the houses? They used to store their cattle at night to prevent people from stealing them. They also locked prisoners there before their trial. The king then, as a symbol to spread fear amongst his enemies and would kill a prisoner and eat the flesh and drink their blood.

Mock execution. 

We finally reached our hotel just as the clouds started to cast its gloom. We had just about an hour to freshen up before dinner but KS and I decided to walk around the hotel just a bit.

A little mini island to relax on at the hotel.
KS torturing himself with the reflexology stones.
Angel's trumpets which are poisonous according to Ron but gave such a wonderfully strong fragrance .
There were cats waiting by the steps into the lake. Schools of fish would swim up to the shallow part of the last step and the cats would go fishing. So cute!

Next morning was a pack! eat! go! as we had to reach Medan to send off 2 from our company to the airport. The distance is about 170km but due to the uncertainty in traffic, the guide didn't want to take the chance to be late.

Last few glimpses of Lake Toba from the bus.

Once we dropped off the two girls at the airport, we were brought to this strange church, the Annai Velankanni Catholic Church, which incorporates influences from Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Apparently there are two of such buildings in the world, the other one in India. 

The view as you enter the gates.
Flanking the entrance is this carving
And this is the other matching set of the carving.

After that, we insisted we wanted to do some shopping and we were brought to Sun Plaza. With less than an hour, after battling the terrific jam in Medan, all I managed to buy was some packets of Indo Mee Goreng as KS said we can't get those back here in Malaysia.

In summary, if I were to do this again, I'd hire my own personal tour guide (and not having to try to squeeze some other person's itinerary into ours), stay an extra day in Berastagi to walk around the town which looked quite interesting as it whizzed past the bus window and definitely stay a couple of days in Lake Toba and explore the island a bit more.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, really like the pictures you posted. If you don't mind, can I have the contact no of the tour agency that you used? Thanks for your help.

jo said...

thanks! sure, let me get the contact details and i'll post it up here as soon as i get the proper details. she's my cousin-in-law so i just contacted her via facebook.

jo said...

you can contact denise via her email denise_h@ogt.com.my

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. Really appreciate your help.

msmchoong said...

can I have the contact no of the tour agency that you used? Thanks for your help.

jo said...

hi msmchoong, please contact denise via email as given above or her handphone 016 663 3286.

Jeff Chuah said...

hi, do you mind share with me the hotels you guys stay at throughout the trips? thanks...

jo said...

hi jeff, gosh, i didn't take note of the hotels we stayed in!

checking from my other photos, the one on lake toba was called toledo inn. apparently it's one of the better ones on the island. there are many steep stairs and paths. don't let go of your wheeled luggage or it could roll into the lake.

and checking on the web, the berastagi hotel we stayed in is called horison hotel berastagi. the rooms are in individual chalets, but i remembered not having a shower that night because there was no hot water and the weather was freezing. next morning there was hot water though.

and i think the hotel we stayed in medan was called hotel grand antares. can't remember anything much around the hotel so you'd better get your supplies from elsewhere first.

hope that helps.

Bajang Wiwit said...

Liburan yang menarik di danau toba ingin rasanya bisa kesana.Maaf ya saya nggak bisa bahasa inggris jadi komen pake bahasa indonesia aja ya.

siberia said...

berastagi is such a nice place, its a tourism city for local resident.. i'm always want to go there for vacation because the air is fresh and cozy.. you could stay in mikie holiday resort or grand mutiara hotel because it was good

Rena Tan said...

Hi Jo! Thks for ur write up. My hubby & I will be going for a trip there nxt wk. I knw ur dad, Ng Siew Wah. D world isn't so big aftr all..hehe..God Bless

jo said...

hi rena! Hope you had a good trip! And yes, my dad remembers you :)

clinton parkinn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JingHong said...

Can i know how are the weather of both cities? Is it very hot? What should I wearing to?

jo said...

medan was hot, just like any typical tropical weather. shorts and slippers would be comfortable, but if you're visiting temples, mosques etc, might be better to wear something longer.

lake toba was slightly cooler, but when we were there, it rained quite a fair bit so i'm not exactly sure if you can get away with shorts.

berastagi was cold. i remembered shivering so much that i could not bear to brush my teeth that night, let alone shower as the hot water wasn't working. bring warmer clothes for this place.

JingHong said...

How about the parapat?if i prepared.the long shirt and short pants?it's suitable?

jo said...

parapat is at lake toba, where you board to get to samosir island so the weather is the same.

ENJOY HOLIDAY MEDAN said...

bila bercuti kat indonesia,especially kat bandar medan & tasik toba, MAKE SURE agency tuh LEGALLY REGISTERED or NOT!!! jangan ambik pakej dari freelancer pulak bila nak cuti-cuti akak lancar dan takde kendala. sebab NOWADAYS dah ada aturan pulak EACH & EVERY TRAVEL AGENTS MUST BE LEGALLY REGISTRED AS COMPANY!!
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Mita Diah said...

Bagus banget gan artikelnya ... tempat wisata indonesia

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elisa said...

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Hamzah Saragih said...

4D3N MEDAN LAKE TOBA TOUR
(1Nite Parapat, 1 Nite Berastagi, 1 Nite Medan
--------------------------------------------------------------------
DAY 01 : ARRIVAL MEDAN – TEBING TINGGI – PARAPAT (L,D)
Arrival at Kuala Namu International Airport. After customs clearance, meet our representative and Tour Guide who will take you to start the tours by using tourist Coach or Van. Transfer to the local restaurant for lunch. Then, depart to Parapat-drive along the road which offers the endless view of Rubber and Oil Palms Plantations through the journey. Stop should be made at Pematang Siantar for shopping of local product such as Kacang Tumbuk “Ting Ting, Teng Teng”, Other snacks Etc. Arrived in Parapat then check in to hotel for overnight stay, the rest of the day is free on your own leisure. Dinner served at the local restaurant.

DAY 02 : PARAPAT – SAMOSIR ISLAND – BERASTAGI (B,L,D)
After breakfast at hotel, ready for Samosir island excursion by Boat to visits
Tomok village, to see the Tombs of The King Ompu Sidabutar & Shopping place. Ambarita village, to see the Traditional Batak village with ancient megalithic Furnitures. Return to Parapat for lunch at local restaurant. Afterwards proceed to Berastagi–a mountains resort with it’s refreshing weather and magnificent mountains scenery which has an abundance of Flowers, Vegetables and Fruits. En-route stops at Panorama Simarjarunjung hill (Sanitary stop),Sipiso-Piso waterfall. Arrived in Brastagi then to visit the Central Fruits Market (Shopping Place). Afternoon check in to hotel. The rest of the day is free on your own leisure. Dinner served at the hotel or local restaurant.

DAY 03 : BERASTAGI – MEDAN (B,L,D)
After breakfast, proceed on two hours down the hill to Medan. Visit Lumbini Park. Arrival in Medan then city sight seeing to visit a several points of interest such as the Maimoon Palace, Al-Matshun Grand mosque. After lunch at the local restaurant, and then proceed to the shopping areas as follow Danar Hadi Batik emperium and others whole Batik sellers in Medan, including to Pasar Ikan market and Malls. Afternoon check in to hotel for overnight stay. Dinner served at the local restaurant.

DAY 04 : HOTEL – AIRPORT (B)
After breakfast, free program before transfer to the airport for your flight home..END OF SERVICE





Thanks /Regards

HAMZAH SARAGIH Tour Guide Medan Sumatra Utara - IndonesiaTelp // WhatsApp : +6282160211106 Email : hamzahsaragih@ymail.com
Web : http://hamzahsaragih.blogspot.com
Facebook :Hamzah Saragih
Ym :Hamzah SaragihBB: 512113B1

jo said...

i'm going to allow others to post their tour services because i found it difficult to find any tour information when i scoured the net for medan. please bear in mind i do not know who these people who are posting nor do i recommend their services.

if any of you wish to use their services, please use them at your own risk.

rio artha said...

travelling to Bangka Belitung.

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hotel said...

Seru banget ya, banyak hotel juga di sana

liburan said...

JAdi pengennya juga liburan ke medan