Category Archives: Lake Toba

5 Days 4 Nights Medan and Lake Toba Tour – Day 3 (March 2014)

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.

Lake Toba early morning
Lake Toba early morning
Misty Lake Toba early morning
Misty Lake Toba early morning

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.

Kayaking on lake Toba
Kayaking on lake Toba
Water activity early morning on Lake Toba
Water activity early morning on Lake Toba

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.

Lake front properties on Samosir Island
Lake front properties on Samosir Island
Other accommodation on Samosir Island
Other accommodation on Samosir Island


More lake front accommodation on Samosir Island
More lake front accommodation on Samosir Island
Lake Toba sunrise obscured by clouds
Lake Toba sunrise obscured by clouds

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.

Kijang Innova vehicle
Kijang Innova vehicle
Abandoned wooden structure in the woods
Abandoned wooden structure in the woods
Former fish restaurant
Former fish restaurant

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.

Lake Toba lookout point
Lake Toba lookout point
Top view of Lake Toba
Top view of Lake Toba
Lake Toba lookout
Lake Toba lookout
Si Piso Piso Waterfall
Si Piso Piso Waterfall

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.

Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park


Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park

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.

Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park

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.

Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park tourist site
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park tourist site
Si Piso Piso Waterfall tourist site
Si Piso Piso Waterfall tourist site
Si Piso Piso Waterfall tourist site
Si Piso Piso Waterfall tourist site
Si Piso Piso Waterfall souvenir shops
Si Piso Piso Waterfall souvenir shops
Si Piso Piso Waterfall souvenir shops
Si Piso Piso Waterfall souvenir shops
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park souvenirs shops
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park souvenirs shops
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park souvenirs shops
Si Piso Piso Waterfall Park souvenirs shops
Si Piso Piso Waterfall parking area
Si Piso Piso Waterfall parking area

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.

Gundaling Hill tourist site
Gundaling Hill tourist site
Gundaling Hill Park
Gundaling Hill Park
Gundaling Hill Park
Gundaling Hill Park
Gundaling Hill Park
Gundaling Hill Park
Gundaling Hill scenery
Gundaling Hill scenery
Surrounding view from Gundaling Hill
Surrounding view from Gundaling Hill

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.

Volcano view from Gundaling Hill
Volcano view from Gundaling Hill
Volcano view through Gundaling Hill Park
Volcano view through Gundaling Hill Park
Volcano view through Gundaling Hill Park
Volcano view through Gundaling Hill Park
Majestic volcano from Gundaling Hill
Majestic volcano from Gundaling Hill
Majestic volcano in the distance on an overcast day
Majestic volcano in the distance on an overcast day


Majestic volcano in the distance on an overcast day
Majestic volcano in the distance from Gundaling Hill
Majestic volcano in the distance on an overcast day
Majestic volcano in the distance on an overcast day

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.

Horses on Gundaling Hill
Horses on Gundaling Hill
Horses on Gundaling Hill
Horses on Gundaling Hill
Horse rides on Gundaling Hill
Horse rides on Gundaling Hill
Gundaling Hill souvenir shops below
Gundaling Hill souvenir shops below
Makeshift stalls on Gundaling Hill
Makeshift stalls on Gundaling Hill
Makeshift stalls on Gundaling Hill
Makeshift stalls on Gundaling Hill

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.

Room entrance
Room entrance
Beautiful room
Beautiful room
Window view of Merdeka Walk below and Centre Point Mall
Window view of Merdeka Walk below and Centre Point Mall


Window view on the left
Window view on the left
Window view on the right
Window view on the right

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.

Clean and comfortable king bed
Clean and comfortable king bed
Wall mounted TV and writing desk and chair
Wall mounted TV and writing desk and chair

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.

Clean bathroom
Clean bathroom
Shower stall
Shower stall

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.

Watching TV programs with plenty of international channels
Watching TV programs with plenty of international channels

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.

Lobby lounge
Lobby lounge
Lobby lounge
Lobby lounge
Antique piece in Heritage Cafe
Antique piece in Heritage Cafe

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.

Heritage Cafe entrance
Heritage Cafe entrance
Lovely Heritage cafe room
Lovely Heritage cafe room
Heritage cafe room with nice decor
Heritage cafe room with nice decor
Beautiful Heritage Cafe
Beautiful Heritage Cafe
Antique piece in Heritage Cafe
Antique piece in Heritage Cafe

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.

Hotel Lobby
Hotel Lobby

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.

Lively Merdeka Walk
Lively Merdeka Walk


Centre Point Mall
Centre Point Mall

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

5 Days 4 Nights Medan and Lake Toba Tour – Day 2 (March 2014)

Day 2 – Lake Toba

We woke up to a cool and quiet morning. Though the room in our Batak Villa may not be luxurious, the bed was good and our sleep wasn’t bad at all. We were not in any hurry to rush out to spend our day on Samosir Island because we didn’t have any plans for the day.

When we finally felt it was time to fill our stomachs, we went over to the restaurant for breakfast. The breakfast buffet spread wasn’t huge but the food was fine. After all, we could not expect a buffet spread on Samosir Island to be comparable to a four stars hotel in a big city. The restaurant was nice and the staff friendly and helpful. Having enjoyed our breakfast, we went out to explore the grounds of Tabo Cottages.

Tabo Cottages Restaurant
Tabo Cottages Restaurant

It was a cooling morning and a little misty. Lake Toba wasn’t very clear under such conditions. Though visibility wasn’t very good, the air was nevertheless fresh. Years ago when we were here, the climate was much better. It would be very cold in the morning unlike this day which seemed to be a little mystical.

Misty morning in Tuk Tuk Samosir Island
Misty morning in Tuk Tuk Samosir Island
Early morning view of Lake Toba
Early morning view of Lake Toba
Tabo Cottages Lake front
Tabo Cottages Lake front

The swimming pool looked clean but too cold to go for a swim so early in the morning. The ground was tidy and well kept. The whole place wasn’t very big and soon we went back to our Batak Villa to rest.

Tabo Cottages Swimming Pool
Tabo Cottages Swimming Pool
Swimming Pool early morning view
Swimming Pool early morning view


Swimming Pools in Tabo Cottages
Swimming Pools in Tabo Cottages

With day light coming into our room, the room looked much better. It was quite gloomy at night due to insufficient lighting in the room. We took the opportunity to climb up the attic and spent some time there to enjoy the view of the lake. The mattress up there was quite nice too. It was just a novelty to have an attic in the room. The view of the lake was nice and very peaceful even though visibility was a little low.

Mattress on the attic with window view of the lake
Mattress on the attic with window view of the lake

After that, we went out to the big balcony. The hammock out there was fun to hang onto for some relaxation. With some gentle swaying on the hammock under the cool morning on Samosir Island, it was really enjoyable. How often do we get a chance to hang out on a hammock! So my dear wife and myself took turns on the hammock and enjoyed the peaceful and quiet environment in Lake Toba. It was a great time for some light reading under such favourable conditions.

Batak Villa in Tabo Cottages
Batak Villa in Tabo Cottages
Batak Villa Balcony with lake view
Batak Villa Balcony with lake view
Batak Villa balcony on second floor
Batak Villa balcony on second floor
Batak Villa balcony front view
Batak Villa balcony front view

Lake Toba had become brighter now though still overcast. Having spent enough time chilling out on the hammock at our balcony, we decided to explore the surrounding on Samosir Island. So we left Tabo Cottages and walked around Tuk Tuk town. Tuk Tuk town was rather small and nothing much to see and do apart from some restaurants and accommodations on Samosir Island.

Tuk Tuk town
Tuk Tuk town
A house under construction in Tuk Tuk town
A house under construction in Tuk Tuk town
Another accommodation on Samosir Island
Another accommodation on Samosir Island
Another homestay in Tuk Tuk
Another homestay in Tuk Tuk
A restaurant in Tuk Tuk town
A restaurant in Tuk Tuk town

So we decided to head to Tomok Village for a look. We were only about ten minutes into our journey when it started to drizzle. As such, we decided not to walk on any further so we turned back. We didn’t think it was worth the trouble to explore Tomok even though it was more than twenty years ago when we last visited the village.

Open field on the way to Tomok Village
Open field on the way to Tomok Village

Horas Family Holidays Homestay
Horas Family Holidays Homestay




When we were back to Tuk Tuk town, the drizzle had subsided. We took the opportunity to pay a visit to Horas Family Holidays Homestay. We were warmly welcomed and shown around the grounds. There was an organic vegetable garden where the vegetables would end up on the dining table for guests staying with them. They had excellent facilities in good conditions. The ground was beautiful, clean and tidy. The staff were friendly and helpful as well.

Organic garden in Horas Family Holidays
Organic garden in Horas Family Holidays
Flowers at Horas Family Holiday
Flowers at Horas Family Holiday
Horas Family Holidays Homestay
Horas Family Holidays Homestay

We noticed they had kayaks, boats and fishing rods and were told they were available for guests to use for free. With their accommodations having full lake view, no doubt those staying with them would enjoy Horas’ excellent and exclusive services. After taking a few pictures, we left and went back to Tabo Cottages next door.

Horas Family Holidays Homestay
Horas Family Holidays Homestay
Horas Family Holidays Homestay lake front
Horas Family Holidays Homestay lake front


Horas Family Holidays Homestay pond
Horas Family Holidays Homestay pond

It was time for lunch so we went to the restaurant in Tabo Cottages. The food was good and prices reasonable. The ginger tea we ordered was a little strange and too strong because the staff had forgotten to add in honey. It was made good after that. We had a good lunch in a quiet and relaxing place and were very much satisfied.

Tabo Cottages Restaurant
Tabo Cottages Restaurant
Tabo Cottages Restaurant
Tabo Cottages Restaurant

After lunch, we moved over to our Junior Suite on the ground floor not far from the restaurant. The room was more modern that came with a water dispenser and tea and coffee making facility. There was also a tiny TV in the room but it wasn’t really useful because there wasn’t much to watch where the few channels were all local programs on top of the bad signal reception on this isolated island.

Junior Suite room with small TV
Junior Suite room with small TV
Junior Suite room furnishing
Junior Suite room furnishing
Bright and clean toilet
Bright and clean toilet

We were given twin beds instead of a double bed as the other Junior suites were occupied. The bed was not as comfortable as the double bed we had the previous night in the Batak Villa. The toilet however was bright and came with a separate shower stall. The suite room was very spacious but seemed rather empty though. Notwithstanding, the room was clean and furnishing though not luxurious was sufficient. Of course this Junior Suite room was a lot brighter than the Batak Villa.

Twin beds Junior Suite room
Twin beds Junior Suite room

Junior Suite ground floor middle unit
Junior Suite ground floor middle unit



It was already afternoon but we didn’t feel like venturing to Tomok again. So we spent our time lazing around to enjoy the serenity in Tuk Tuk Lake Toba where we probably won’t return after another very long time. The quiet time spent here was good though we found ourselves suddenly having so much time on hand which was a drastic change in routine.

Garden in Tabo Cottages
Garden in Tabo Cottages
Garden in Tabo Cottages
Garden in Tabo Cottages
Outdoor restaurant area
Outdoor restaurant area
Tabo Cottages restaurant outdoor area
Tabo Cottages restaurant outdoor area
Tidy and nice garden at Tabo Cottages
Tidy and nice garden at Tabo Cottages
Well kept garden of Tabo Cottages
Well kept garden of Tabo Cottages
Peaceful and quiet accommodation at Tabo Cottages
Peaceful and quiet accommodation at Tabo Cottages
Beautiful ground at Tabo Cottages
Beautiful ground at Tabo Cottages
Nice accommodations in Tabo Cottages
Nice accommodations in Tabo Cottages

The swimming pool though not very big, looked enticing. However, we were too lazy to go for a swim. From the middle of the pool, there was a steep slope all the way to another end. Those who can’t swim better not jump into the deep end of the pool. So the deck chairs were good enough for us to enjoy ourselves near the lake.

Swimming pool area facing the lake
Swimming pool area facing the lake


Nice and clean swimming pool
Nice and clean swimming pool
Beautiful ground at Tabo Cottages
Beautiful ground at Tabo Cottages
Horas Family Holidays view from Tabo Cottages
Horas Family Holidays view from Tabo Cottages
Horas Family Holidays next door
Horas Family Holidays next door
Lake front view at Tabo Cottages
Lake front view at Tabo Cottages
Lake front view at Tabo Cottages
Lake front view at Tabo Cottages

The garden and playground area was very peaceful. It was a good place just to unwind and do some light reading and enjoy the cool climate in Lake Toba. Back in the eighties and early nineties, Lake Toba was a busy and lively tourist destination and not so quiet like it was now. Perhaps it was good for a change. The lack of development of infrastructures gave the impressions that they had been abandoned. Maybe tourists these days liked it that way. But for the people living here, they probably had to continue living in subsistence level for quite a while.

Simple nostalgic playground
Simple nostalgic playground
Well kept playground and garden
Well kept playground and garden
Garden and playground in Tabo Cottages
Garden and playground in Tabo Cottages
Well kept playground and garden
Well kept playground and garden

We also took an afternoon nap to prepare for the next day’s six hours journey back to Medan via Berastagi. We would have to get up very early and leave the island to catch the first ferry to Parapat. So this nap would be needful. We seldom had the chance to relax so much without much to do in the afternoon and we enjoyed it while we were here.

Ferry services from Parapat
Ferry services from Parapat

Dinner time came and we were back to the restaurant in Tabo Cottages. We ordered different dishes from lunch. The Batak singers who were staff of Tabo Cottages were preparing for the evening entertainment for guests here. While we were enjoying our dinner, Mr. Baker showed up and came over to join us for dinner. His wife cooked him dinner and brought it over from their homestay.

Dinner at Tabo Cottages Restaurant
Dinner at Tabo Cottages Restaurant
Tabo Cottages restaurant counter
Tabo Cottages restaurant counter
Tabo Cottages restaurant at night
Tabo Cottages restaurant at night

We had a good chat and learned a little more of the happenings in Lake Toba. He assured us his staff would come over in the morning to help us get up the ferry to go over to Tiga Raja Habour in Parapat. The same driver Mr. Rahman would also be waiting for us over there.

Soon the Batak singers started to sing with beautiful voices and musical accompaniment and we could see diners here loved their singing and music. Even Mr. Baker got up from our table and had some fun to accompany these Batak singers’ exuberant singing swaying happily along with his happy moves. He was obviously in very good mood. It was the restaurant’s unique happy hours here where diners could enjoy the evening in Samosir Island. That was as much night life you could get over here.

Batak singers in the restaurant
Batak singers in the restaurant
Mr. Baker mingling with diners in the restaurant
Mr. Baker mingling with diners in the restaurant

Back in 1991, it was a completely different atmosphere. The singing hall was packed with tourists and those Batak singers impressed us with their powerful voices and great singing. After the performance, while going back to our room, we saw a young mother carrying her child on her back selling durians to guests. Her fingers were bleeding while trying to open up durians for guests which left a lasting impression on my mind. She was simply trying to do a little more to feed her family and life was really tough.

So this last evening on Samosir Island left us with a very different experience. It was an evening of simple entertainment with a good dinner on a very much smaller scale. It was nonetheless good enough for us. After dinner, we bid Mr. Baker our best wishes and a goodnight rest and we returned to our room.

Junior Suite room at night
Junior Suite room at night


Bed room at night
Bed room at night

As usual, we caught up with our children before retiring. This would ensure we could go to bed with peace of mind. Soon enough, tiredness set in and we closed our eyes for the day with much anticipation for the day trip on the way back to Medan.


Continue to Day 3

5 Days 4 Nights Medan and Lake Toba Tour (March 2014)

When Jetstar launched its inaugural flight to Medan in 2013, we quickly booked a short break of 5 days 4 nights for March 2014. The last time we visited Medan and Lake Toba was 1991 so it was time to return for a visit after so many years. The return air tickets per person cost just $78 not including airport tax from Medan.

For accommodations, we booked two nights stay at Tabo Cottages and another two nights stay at Grand Aston City Hall Hotel in Medan.

Transfer from Medan to Lake Toba wasn’t so simple. There were cheaper alternatives with public buses or share minibuses but won’t be convenient and comfortable. So we contacted Mr. Baker from Horas Family Holidays to arrange for private transfers from Medan Airport to Parapat via Pematang Siantar and then take a ferry over to Samosir island. The return trip will be via Berastagi for a day tour on the way back to Medan. The transfer cost was 800,000 IDR and 1,000,000 IDR respectively. We requested for a driver who would not smoke in the car and could speak some English so we could communicate a little during our transfer journey.

Our flights details were as follows:

Singapore to Medan 10.40 am to 11.05 am

Medan to Singapore 11.45 am to 2.40 pm

The planned itineraries were as follows:

Day 1 (Samosir Island Lake Toba)

Arrive Medan Airport and direct transfer to Parapat Tiga Raja Harbour
Take ferry to Samosir Island
Check in to Tabo Cottages

Day 2 (Samosir Island)

Activities on Samosir Island

Day 3 (Medan)

Take ferry to Parapat early morning.
Return to Medan via Berastagi for day tour.
Check in Grand Aston City Hall Hotel in Medan

Day 4 (Medan)

Visit Medan City
Shopping in Medan City

Day 5 (Medan)

Take Airport Railink to Medan Airport in the morning
Flight back to Singapore

Day 1 – Singapore to Medan onward to Lake Toba

Though we booked our flight in July 2013 and our departure was March 2014, the day for our trip to Medan came quite quickly. The flight timing to Medan was ideal. We took our time to Changi Airport and had breakfast before our flight. It was just a short flight under an hour. We arrived Medan Airport just after 11 am.



After custom and immigration clearance, we exited the airport to look for our driver Mr. Rahman. We found him without any trouble. So we went to A&W to grab some fast food lunches for ourselves and our driver and off we went towards Lake Toba.

It was around noon and the journey to Tiga Raja Habour would take around 4 hours. We were hoping to catch the 4.30 pm ferry to Samosir island. If we missed this ferry timing, the next ferry would depart at 6 pm. Taking public transportation would be quite impossible to reach Parapat early in order to catch the 4.30 pm ferry to Samosir Island.


Though it was a fast food lunch, we were quite happy with our meals including our driver who seemed to enjoy his lunch very much. The lunch wasn’t very cheap either and we believed our driver would not be having A&W meals often but probably cheaper alternatives with local food.

Along the way, there wasn’t much to see, definitely not some awe-inspiring scenery. We witnessed crazy drivers on the road who drove like some F1 drivers wannabes. In addition, the drivers and even passengers in shared minibuses smoked and we were sure glad we were not travelling in those vehicles.

Our driver Mr. Rahman spoke some English which were passable for some meaningful exchanges and most importantly, he drove safely. The vehicle was a Kijang Innova which was clean with working seatbelts and more than enough space for my wife and myself. The air conditioning was good too. From experience, taxi drivers in Indonesia usually set air conditioning at minimum comfort in order to save money on petrol so we were glad to be travelling in comfort on a hot day. Mr. Rahman also played some English Oldies which lightened the somewhat boring journey. He also listened to English songs to learn English as well.

Eventually, we arrived Tiga Raja Harbour around 4.15 pm and were met by a representative from Mr. Baker’s homestay. We were ushered to a coffee shop to wait for the ferry to depart for Samosir Island.

Market at Tiga Raja Habour in Parapat
Market at Tiga Raja Habour in Parapat
Car park at Tiga Raja Habour
Car park at Tiga Raja Habour
Tiga Raja Habour waiting for ferry to Samosir Island
Tiga Raja Habour waiting for ferry to Samosir Island
Waiting area for ferry departure for Samosir Island
Waiting area for ferry departure for Samosir Island

In about ten minutes, the same representative walked us up the ferry. The ferry left shortly after and we were on our way towards Samosir island. During the journey, a staff came and collected 10,000 IDR from each passenger.



Ferry waiting to leave for Samosir Island
Ferry waiting to leave for Samosir Island
Quiet day at Tiga Raja Habour in Parapat
Quiet day at Tiga Raja Habour in Parapat
Tiga Raja Habour in Parapat
Tiga Raja Habour in Parapat
Ferry departing Tiga Raja Habour on Lake Toba
Ferry departing Tiga Raja Habour on Lake Toba

The last time we crossed the lake was over twenty years ago. It wasn’t the same feeling we had back then where this place was a flourishing tourist destination with crowds of people in Parapat and shops doing roaring business. Tiga Raja Habour now looked forlorn and rundown.

Ferry left Tiga Raja Habour on Lake Toba
Ferry left Tiga Raja Habour on Lake Toba
Ferry on Lake Toba
Ferry on Lake Toba

Though Lake Toba was still serene and beautiful, it wasn’t the same Lake Toba we used to know. We hoped Samosir Island would offer us something better when we arrived. It was already close to evening time but it was still bright on the lake and the air fresh. After 45 minutes, we arrived at the jetty of Tabo Cottages.

Tiga Raja Harbour in Parapat
Tiga Raja Harbour in Parapat
Accommodations on Samosir island
Accommodations on Samosir island


Cottages on Samosir Island
Cottages on Samosir Island
Accommodations on Samosir island
Accommodations on Samosir island
Horas Family Holidays Homestay
Horas Family Holidays Homestay

Check in was simple. We booked a Batak Villa for the first night and a Junior Suite for the following night at 450,000 IDR per night as the cheaper deluxe rooms were fully booked. We were given keys to a Batak Villa which was a house on the second floor. It was a house with a Batak architecture roof and Batak style internal furnishing. The room wasn’t luxurious and sparsely furnished.

Batak Villa
Batak Villa

The double bed was clean and comfortable. Unfortunately, the wall fan mounted across the bed was partially blocked by the stairs leading to the attic. On the attic was a mattress where we could look out a window onto the lake. Lighting in the room was barely sufficient and of course no TV in the room.

Comfortable king bed
Comfortable king bed
Stairs to the attic
Stairs to the attic

The bathroom was huge but the bathtub could be slippery when wet. The hammock in the big balcony was fun to have a relaxing time hanging out for some light reading and enjoying the cool climate on the island. After checking everything in the room and with no complaints, we left Tabo Cottages.

We went over to Horas Family Holidays Homestay next door to look for Mr. Baker to pay him for the transfers arrangement. The staff told us he was having a drink at the café across the street. So we went over to look for him and we sat down to have a chat with him. We were invited to go over to his homestay for a visit when we were free during our stay on the island. After paying him the transfer fees, we went out to look for a restaurant for dinner.

Simple delicious local dinner
Simple delicious local dinner

So we walked back towards Tabo Cottages and went a little further. We went into a restaurant across the street from Tabo Cottages recommended by Mr. Baker. We settled down and ordered some local dishes. It was about sunset time and with the simple but delicious food before us, the dinner was indeed very enjoyable. It was our first meal in Lake Toba after twenty three years. Our feelings were hard to express. It was a rather quiet affair. The last time, it was a grand dinner in a hotel restaurant with a huge crowd full of tourists and exuberant Batak singers. This time was a dinner in solitude that perhaps we should be glad to have some quiet time on the island.


After dinner, we took a slow walk back to Tabo Cottages. The air was cool and fresh. However, it was getting dark and there was nothing much to do at night. So we retired earlier as there was no TV in the room. Though air was cool at night but in the room, it was a little stuffy. So the fan across the bed was turned on and even though the wind was partially blocked by the stairs, it was still better than none.

Stairs to the attic in Batak Villa room
Stairs to the attic in Batak Villa room

Wifi was working and so connecting with the children back home was the last activity for the day before we closed our eyes to prepare for the next day. Everything was fine at home and so we gladly retired for the day hoping to enjoy ourselves on Samosir Island after such a long time.


Continue to Day 2