After river rafting in Ketambe we made our way to Lake Toba. Johan the guesthouse manager introduced us to a driver and got us a great deal (for tourists at least). The drive was not for the fainthearted, we were on a mountain with direct drops on either side. The driver couldn’t wait to overtake at any given opportunity, taking us closer to the edge. He relied on the horn to warn other drivers approaching the blind corners, never slowing down. The potholes were horrendous and I had a serious headache because of the bumpy ride. He did an excellent job though and certainly knew what he was doing. We stopped at a local restaurant where the four of us (the driver brought his friend) ate for under $2. We also stopped at another lake that had an awesome waterfall. We arrived safely at the port in Parapat and took a small trip to Tuk Tuk, Samosir.
Lake Toba had a more touristy vibe and there were a variety of resorts. We stayed at Tabo Cottages and our room was beautiful. It had a rustic feel to it, with wooded floors and panels. We also had a nice balcony with a hammock to chill in. Other than lounging beside the pool or eating in the restaurant, there wasn’t a lot to do. The hotel also provided a variety of beauty and relaxation services. It was certainly a change of pace and different from our usual style of travelling. So, we decided to rent motor scooters to explore the beautiful lake and the surrounding areas. This was the main activity planned for our stay. I’ve always said I would never rent motor scooters on holiday because I had never ridden one before and you hear so many horror stories.
We were given a crash course (no pun intended) on operating our motor scooters, we each had one. Then we set off on our journey. It was brilliant and we had a lot of fun at first. We saw some stunning views of the Lake and people kept waving at us, especially the children. Some of them thought I was from Papua Indonesia and would shout ‘hello Papua’. I was wondering why I hadn’t done this before. The potholes were very problematic but on the main road there was less to contend with. We went around for four hours without any major problems, other than encountering some very uncomfortable potholes. Then, ten minutes from arriving back at our guesthouse, it all went blank.
I woke up in a clinic and my husband explained that I had been on a motor scooter. I didn’t even remember being on one and was confused. It eventually came back to me. I was told the local people were very helpful. One put me in his car and drove me straight to the clinic, while my husband followed behind. I was unconscious at first, bleeding from the head and lying on the side of the road. It all sounded pretty horrific. At first I was more concerned about having a scar, but I soon realized I was extremely fortunate to come through it alive!
Thankfully I only had a couple of stitches, near my eye though, and one side of my face was extremely swollen. I also split the inside of my mouth, which freaked me out but it closed up by itself relatively quickly. The nice hotel room was a haven as I recovered for a couple of days. I looked like a boxer after losing a fight; I resorted to wearing sunglasses indoors. We’re not sure why I fell off the bike; I believe it was because of the potholes and gravel. Where the accident happened was a particularly bad patch in the road. I was wearing a helmet but it wasn’t secured properly and it flew off. When considering renting a motor scooter you have to decide if the risks are worth it. I don’t know if I will rent one again, probably not and certainly not in a country where the roads are so bad. I had to go to a clinic every two days to have my wounds cleaned and to get prescriptions. I had my stitches removed towards the end of the trip in Yogyakarta . The cost of medical treatment was under $30 in total!
After Lake Toba, we took more long distant car journeys. Our Indonesian friend introduced us to a driver. It really helped to have good contacts. We went to Ijen Crater where we were hoping to see blue lava at night. However, we were told that it was emitting toxic fumes, and at night there would be no one there to warn us if the fumes were coming. So we went during the day, and it was still very beautiful. We had to hike to the top. It wasn’t that much of a distance but I was struggling, as I was still recovering from the accident. On the way up we were passed by the people that collected sulfur from the crater. Some of them would try to sell us some sulfur souvenirs but they did not harass us.
The following day we had to get up at 2 am to drive to Mount Bromo and make it before sunrise. There were a lot of tourists there and our view was blocked by people standing on the walls. This was quite annoying but we decided to walk down to a lower level and had exclusive seats. The views were stunning before and after the sunrise. There was some visible activity from it at various points. We stayed there for quite a while taking photos and keeping an eye on it in case anything exciting happened.
Indonesia is a great country with wonderful people who are very welcoming. Three weeks was not enough and it is likely we will be returning in the near future. I had never seen a volcano before in real life prior to visiting Indonesia and, I certainly hadn’t seen Orangutans in their natural habitat. Neither had I seen Octopuses or Sea Turtles before when scuba diving. So it was a first for many different experiences. The scooter accident only reinforced how lovely the people are, because without their help and the help of various medical staff, it would have been much worse. Thankfully receiving medical treatment was very inexpensive.
We packed a lot into the three weeks and finding someone to drive us around helped a great deal. That was our biggest expense but everything else in terms of food and accommodation were extremely economical. We finished off our trip by going on a jeep ride around Mt Merapi, a volcano that erupted in 2010. There was a lot of information about the aftermath of various natural disasters, such as the Tsunami of 2006 and towns affected by volcano eruptions. I have some photos relating to these visits that I will be sharing.
Have you been to Indonesia? Maybe you can recommend some places for when we return.
Thanks for reading :-)