Day 3 – Lake Toba through Berastagi to Medan
Having had a very relaxing day doing nothing much the day before, getting up very early in the morning on this third day wasn’t a problem at all. We were going to catch the 7 am ferry to Parapat so by 6.30 am, we were already having breakfast at the restaurant. In fact, we were too early and some items were not ready when we were there. It was the same affair like the previous day where the food was fine although the buffet spread not huge.
After a quick meal, we went back to our room to brush up and then returned to the restaurant which also served as front desk to check out. Having paid our bills, we carried our bags to the front of the lake to wait for the ferry. We spent time admiring the scenery of Lake Toba for one last time as we probably won’t return after a very long time.
The lake was still overcast and misty. The temperature was just right and not too cold early this morning. There were some activities on the lake during this time. A representative from Horas Family Holidays came up to us to inform us the ferry should arrive shortly. So we enjoyed our stay for these last few minutes on Samosir Island. Soon a ferry appeared and came towards our direction. The staff from Horas Family Holidays waved to the ferry and not long after, we were on board the ferry.
The ferry then moved on to other accommodations to pick up more passengers. Eventually, the ferry left Samosir Island and went towards Tiga Raja Habour in Parapat. During the journey we paid 10,000 IDR each to the ferry operator. Since this might be our last ferry ride across Lake Toba before we come back after a very long time, we enjoyed the ride on the deck and soaked in the sight and embraced the cool breeze on the lake. It was actually drizzling a little during our ferry ride.
The previous ferry ride twenty three years ago was an awe-inspiring experience during our package tour as we enjoyed the view of the lake and the surrounding mountains on a bright but cool day. It was close to the experience of a boat cruise on the lake in Queenstown South New Zealand enjoying the splendid mountains surrounding the lake. Unfortunately, this trip to Lake Toba did not live up to the last experience. Nevertheless, we were glad to have visited Lake Toba after so many years. Our accommodations at Tabo Cottages cost only 900,000 IDR for two nights inclusive of breakfast but private transfers cost double that amount which may not seem justifiable. So we looked forward to our sight seeing trip back to Medan via Berastagi to make this private transfer worthwhile.
In 45 minutes, we were back to Tiga Raja Harbour in Parapat. Mr. Rahman was already waiting for us for a while. So when we came ashore, he approached us with a big smile and showed us to the car. This time, it was a blue colour Kijang Innova while the previous car was grey in colour. The car was spacious and clean and air-conditioning worked very well. So we set off towards Berastagi taking the coastal road up the mountain.
It was drizzling a little this morning and the sky was still overcast. The view of the lake up mountain on our left was beautiful. About 30 minutes into the journey, we stopped by the road and exited the car. Mr. Rahman pointed out something interesting to us. A huge old wooden structure across the road in the shape of a fish stood deserted in the woods. We were told this structure used to be a restaurant. It was already abandoned. After taking a few shots, we moved on upward along the mountain road.
After another 45 minutes, we stopped again. This time we were at a lookout point to view Lake Toba for one last time before the road head inland. The view of Lake Toba was still remarkable even though the weather wasn’t very good where the sky was overcast. Had it been a bright sunny day, the view would be awesome. Not long after, we left and Lake Toba disappeared behind us as we made our way towards Berastagi.
As we drove along, we arrived at the touristy site of Si Piso Piso Waterfall. We couldn’t remember much of this place during our previous visit twenty three years ago so we were excited at the prospect of visiting the waterfall again. As we got out of the car, the air was fresh and we could hear the sound of the waterfall thundering nearby. We walked towards the sound of the waterfall and soon saw the gush of water rushing out from a distance to the ground below pounding the ground with continuous big splashing. It was a refreshing sight indeed.
We walked along the edge of the park and enjoyed the waterfall from afar. While admiring the waterfall and the park ground, our recollection of the previous visit slowly came back. We spent some time here without going down to the waterfall area as it would take us about an hour and a half to make the trip back up to the park. We didn’t want to arrive Medan too late so viewing the waterfall from a distance was good enough for us.
There were shops in the park area so we went to have a look. These shops were selling clothes, souvenirs and snacks. After a quick visit and also a visit to the toilet, we went back to the car where Mr. Rahman was patiently waiting. He greeted us happily and we moved on again. So we bid goodbye to Si Piso Piso Waterfall not knowing when would be our next visit again.
While resting in the car and listening to English Oldies, we were soon near to Berastagi. Our next stop would be Gundaling Hill. The road up the hill was a little narrow. After a couple of minutes, Mr. Rahman managed to park the car by the side of the road. We then began to explore the area.
We walked around the park on the hill and enjoyed the views of Mount Sibayak and Mount Sinabung from a great distance. It was cloudy and the views weren’t very good but we were nevertheless glad to be here. The live volcanoes looked majestic even under low visibility.
There were horses on Gundaling Hill for tourists to have some fun rides around the hill. There were also makeshift stalls selling snacks and drinks and also some shops selling clothes and souvenirs. It was getting late so after taking a few more pictures we left the hill park.
Back to the car, Mr. Rahman told us we were very near Berastagi where we would be having lunch. So in about 15 minutes, we were in the busy town of Berastagi. Mr. Rahman found a parking lot along the busy road next to some restaurants. We went into one of the restaurants and ordered local dishes for lunch. The cost for this lunch was very much cheaper than the A&W meals we bought from Medan Airport when we first arrived. The lunch was not exceptionally delicious but good enough to last us till we reached Medan.
With lunch out of the way, we were on the road again. The road to Medan was now less inspiring. The journey would be at least two and a half hour. So we took the opportunity to have a short nap in the car. We didn’t know how long it was but soon we were near Medan City. The traffic was quite heavy as we made our way into the city.
After another hour, we were in the city centre. Mr. Rahman knew the way to Grand Aston City Hall Hotel and a few minutes later, we arrived at the main entrance. The car had to undergo security clearance before being allowed into the hotel. After guards checked our car, we were given clearance to proceed into the hotel. We alighted at the hotel entrance and Mr. Rahman came out to wish us a good time in Medan. After tipping Mr. Rahman, we made our way into the hotel while our driver left. That ended our Lake Toba part of the tour.
Grand Aston City Hall Hotel was actually part of a heritage building being restored to this beautiful five stars hotel in the city centre. Hotel check in was professionally done. In a short while, we were given keys to a high floor non-smoking room. So we made our way to our room with some excitement.
Upon entering our room, we were greeted with a very nice room with a splendid view of Merdeka Walk right below and a spanking new mall Centre Point in front after the stadium. The room was spacious and clean.
The king bed looked clean and comfortable. TV was wall mounted nicely on a wall panel. A writing desk and a chair were at one corner of the room. Next to the bed was a huge sofa couch.
Bathroom was very clean and came with separate rain shower stall. The furnishing in the room looked like any Novotel hotel rooms. So we were glad and happy with our room.
Since we had spent most of the day on the road sight seeing along the way to Medan, it was a good time to go for a shower to refresh ourselves. Watching TV after that was a great time of relaxation with a back to civilisation kind of feeling pampering ourselves with some luxury in this five stars hotel. Indeed after two nights of solitude at Samosir Island, it was a great feeling to be back to city life with more earthly comfort. Lying on bed watching TV re-orientated us back to normalcy. It was so strange we could be away from TV for more than two days isolating ourselves from the world.
Evening soon came and we went to the restaurant on the second floor for dinner. We were a little early so we were the only diners. The restaurant was having a barbeque buffet dinner so we took a look at their buffet spread. The salad spread was huge and the main course had many selections as well. Pastries and fruits were a plenty. The barbeque section was outdoor where a staff was busy preparing and different types of meats and seafood were available. So we decided to take up the buffet dinner and indulged ourselves with a long evening to enjoy our dinner. The food was really good and after quite some time, we left the restaurant.
We went to the ground floor lounge to explore. The cakes and bread were given a 50% discount after 6 pm. The lounge had a relaxing ambience and wasn’t crowded when we were there. It looked like a nice place to chill out after dinner.
After this, we moved on to the Heritage Café inside the heritage building. The wait staff warmly welcomed us into the cafe. The cafe was empty that night during our visit. The furnishing inside was lovely and full of history. Antique pieces and old photographs were part of the décor here. We took a few pictures and enjoyed our tour of this wonderful cafe. It would be a great place for tea and even a light meal. The staff here were really helpful and friendly.
It was already night time and though Mederka Walk was just outside the hotel, we decided to give it a miss as we were already so full after the sumptuous dinner and won’t be able to take in anymore food at the famous hangout for young people out there. So we went back to our very nice room to enjoy the comfort of this five stars hotel.
Back in our room, we could see Mederka Walk below with the roadside car park full of cars. The whole area was lively with people enjoying their night out. Plenty of food options were available for diners here just to spend time chatting, eating and drinking the night away alfresco style in the city centre. Across the stadium was Centre Point Mall beautifully lighted up with a huge glittering advertising display.
While excitement was going on outdoor, we preferred the comfort of indoor enjoying some peace watching TV in our room. There were plenty of international channels here being a five stars hotel. Wifi worked exceptionally well so we were connected to the internet and hooked up with the children back home. Having shared with them beautiful pictures taken during our sight seeing journey to Medan and also the nice pictures of this heritage hotel, we let our children go while we continued to rest and watched TV.
Our journey from Samosir Island to Medan took more than 8 hours including stoppage time and visiting places of interest as well as lunch break. This journey back to Medan via Berastagi was more interesting and worthwhile. When the night grew on, we soon found ourselves drifting into weariness and not long after, we fell asleep after a long day. The next day would no doubt be another great day.
Continue to Day 4 …