Sumatra during Ramadan
Where are you going in Sumatra? We spent a few days at Lake Toba, home of the Batak people who are largely Christian. We weren't there during Ramadan, but I can only assume they don't adhere to the same practices. Of course this will be no help to you at all if you're not going to North Sumatra! :) Reply to this
Where are you going in Sumatra?
Some travellers on TravelBlog whose opinions I trust highly recommend it. From what they say it is a real gem. Apparently, it is not as touristed as some other parts of Indonesia so it is quieter and the people who live there are not so tourist weary. :)
I am really excited about it, but pretty apprehensive about the overland bus journeys. I like overland travel because I get to see more, but apparently the bus journeys there can be really rough. Well, I still have time to chicken out and fly, if the reports I get of others experiences of the busses live up to the terrible reputation they have. :) Reply to this
No idea about Ramadan, but in Indonesia they seem to practice a pretty relaxed form of Islam, I should think you'll be fine. I've travelled other, more intense Islamic countries during this time and tourist services always seem to opperate. Reply to this
Traditional house on the edge of Danau Maninjau
View of Danau Maninjau from the calders's edge
Enjoying a nice cup of tea
Lake Toba is amazing and less touristed as you rightly mentioned. In-fact, most is already mentioned about the place and the complexity of reaching there etc. so let me talk about the main issue - Ramadan Period.
Though Batak people are majority Cristians and Indonesia practices a very pure and peaceful way of Islam, but I must mention that during Ramadan, there are quite a few restrictions all across, which everybody in Indonesia must observe.
Ramadan is a period of abstinence from most leasures of your life and we as Indonesians pay full respect to it. If I were you then I would post pone or prepone my trip. At the same time, my colleague here is from Batak and have been visiting Lake Toba very often and she mentions it OK there during Ramadan. In-fact, she says that you must book in advance as due to Ramadan, lot of local people will be holidaying there and may be a little difficult to get hotel booking. also, she suggests taxi over bus.
The travel time from medan is about 4 hours and you can hire a Innova for about 500K - 600K IDR.
Let me know if you want to know some specifics, luckily I have a collegaue here who belongs to that place. Reply to this
Unfortunately, I cant postpone my trip, because it is the only time of the year my daughter gets so much time off school.
...abstinence from most leasures of your life ...
Does that change at sundown, as it does in Malaysia. There you can do what you want everywhere, as long as it is between sun down and sun up. Reply to this
Sun down and sun up doesn't apply for Jakarta and many other parts of Indoensia, as much as I know. But, this area could be different and then you are on a family holiday, doesn't matter too much. There will be many more families holidaying.
Kids school off does matter. even I am planning a family trip to Singapore during my kids holidays i.e. May to mid july. Reply to this
I was unaware of Ramadan at the time, or else I've subsequently forgot; so there is an answer in there somewhere as to some of the "hardships" you may have to endure;-)
I do however remember being in Syria and Jordan for Ramadan in 2003, and the Eid-ul-Fitr festival afterwards.
Any chance you will be in Sumatra for Eid?
I just checked the Ramadan dates for that period and apparently Ramadan began on December 19th, 1998 and ended on January 17th 1999.
I think, I was in Egypt just before that Ramadan. I used to have a Ramadan lamp, which I bought in the desert there, which I lost when I was moving house. I wish Ramadan would move to December again, to convenience my daughters school holidays.
Any chance you will be in Sumatra for Eid?
I think, I will be back in Malaysia by then. They might have some celebrations there for it. Sugar cookies! Yum!
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In most parts of Indonesia and Sumatra, a liberal form of Islam is practised by most of the population. You should still though always be considerate, in other words don't eat and drink in public. Most people though around Lake Toba are of course Christian.
I live in Java and find that Ramadan is not a problem. Restaurants put up curtains during daylight hours to shield anyone who is breaking the fast from the devout. So, I don't eat and drink in public and I take into consideration that people may be run down because of the daylight fasting. If you are considerate I don't think you'll have any problems even in Aceh. Although in Aceh you will find the restaurants and street stalls will be closed, this is not the case in most of the rest of the country.
In summary Ramadan is not a problem but Eid or Labaran as it is called in Indonesia can be. Eid is the most important holiday in the calandar. Big cities like Jakarta empty out as a very large part of the population visit their relatives. So, during Labaran all the public transport is booked out, the hotels are full and prices for all tourist facilities double or triple. Reply to this
We are going to Bukittinggi, and nearby. Im glad we didnt choose Aceh then.
Choosing where to go in Sumatra was as random as putting a pin on the map, because I have never been there before. After randomly choosing, I then started to find out more about were we are going. It seems like a beautiful spot. Scott and Annie have just been there, and took those photos in Msg5. A nice preview for me. :) Reply to this
I went to Lake Toba back in 2007 see here. I also visited Aceh on the same trip, I loved the province as it has some great unspoilt dive sites, see here. My visit to Aceh was soon after the Tsunami so there was a lot of rebuilding taking place. The area you're going to is a beautiful spot and I'm sure you'll love it. Reply to this
The area you're going to is a beautiful spot and I'm sure you'll love it.
Thanks for the reassurance, that I chose a good spot. :) It will lessen the 'what if it is not so great' anxiety that I have before most of my trips. The anxiety is unnecessary, because I like at least something about everyplace, but I have the anxiety and fear that I will be disappointed, before every trip anyway. Reply to this