(Day 388 on the road)
Many years ago, back in high school, I used a deodorant called Sumatra Rain. If I was to device an advertisement for this product, I would set it here in volcanic Lake Toba. The lake is absolutely enormous at over 17.000 sq km - it is the largest lake by far in South East Asia. In the middle, there is Samosir island, about the size of Singapore that was created during the last volcano eruption, but with less than 10.000 people living there it is hardly crowded. The lake is also rather deep, reaching 450 metres in places. Watching a fisherman in his canoe go about his catch in the heavy but short rain one afternoon, I was wondering how long it would take to fill a lake of this size.
There is a theory
that Lake Toba was created some 75.000 years ago through a gigantic super volcanic eruption that is supposed to have killed 99%!o(MISSING)f the human population at the time, leaving only 10.000 people alive after the event. The theory is heavily discussed, but evidence is hard to come by. But seeing the sheer size of the lake does make you wonder
how it was created.
Lake Toba is the perfect place to unwind. The first three days I did nothing but swim in the (surprisingly warm) lake, read three books, had delicious food (including some great gado-gado), and simply relaxed in the nice lake-front garden of my hostel located in the village of Tuk Tuk. Best of all, I found a place that made their own delicious brown bread, and quickly became a valued customer for them, eating there two, sometimes three times a day. When it comes to food, always being on the move and never staying for long in one place is really a shame: It takes a while to discover the best places, and once you found them, it is time to move on again, starting all over again. Ah, I am already missing the bread!
The culinary highlight of my stay on the island however was eating dog. It may seem surprising that I haven't had dog on my travels so far (Vietnam and China are known for it in places), but I somehow never got around to it. Further, Islamic Indonesia where dog is haraam
(forbidden in Islam, like eating pork, drinking alcohol, sex
before marriage, homosexuality etc etc) seemed like an unlikely place to try it. However, the area around Lake Toba is populated by the Batak Christian people, who have no quarrels eating dog.
After a bit of driving around on my rented motorbike on my last day exploring the island I found a small restaurant serving dog meat. And to the delight of everyone around I was soon digging in. I expected the meat to be tough and dry, but surprisingly it was fatty and actually very tasty! Unfortunately I didn't find out what kind of dog it was as nobody spoke English, but according to their gestures it was a pretty small one.
And another first: In Lake Toba I had, for the first time in the last 13 months, a sense of loneliness. My plan had been to team up with someone in Sumatra to travel together, but that didn't work out somehow. It seems that the vast majority of people travelling here are either couples or small groups, making it very difficult to find a travel companion. I haven't quite figured out why, but I am guessing that Sumatra is considered pretty rough, so very few people go there alone. Ah well, nothing I can do about that.
Next stop: Jakarta (Java, Indonesia).
To view my photos, have a look at pictures.beiske.com
. And to read the full account of my journey, have a look at the complete book about my trip at Amazon
(and most other online book shops).
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