Inside Batak territory

Indonesia's flag
Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Lake Toba
May 28th 2009
Published: May 28th 2009
Edit Blog Post

the ferrythe ferrythe ferry

from Parapat to Samosir Island
Indonesia, Lake Toba, Samosir Island, Tuk Tuk,

Nets on the quay spread out in the early morning sun to dry and yellow colored plastic crates full with fish caught during the night, attracting huge number of gulls in search of free breakfast, screaming while flying overhead, diving down during a moment of inattention to steal a fat pike, his mates waiting up there in the air, gliding on their wings, waiting for the bold featherly fish thief, ready to discuss his prize....

I'm waiting for the ferry to depart for Samosir Island while making quick sketches in my scrap book of these winged fish pirates, admiring the freedom they have and the outright disregard they have for us mortal human beings, despicable we are in the beady eyes of a third world gull, just about good enough for free fat pike for breakfast.

I'm the only Ferringy aboard this ferry sharing it with several Batak women of varying ages, dressed in grimy dresses and eating Nasi Goreng with greasy fingers of the right hand - remember what you are supposed to use your left hand for in this part of the world? - from a unpacked banana

on market day
leaf. The gaps in their yellow stained dental works are clearly visible while they stuff the Nasi down their throats, belching while they absent-mindedly throw a cleanly picked chicken bone into the dark waters of Lake Toba.

I'm in Batak territory now, a proud and stubborn tribe who can trace their origins back to the Karen villages in Northern Burma and Siam, are tradionally catholic in the Muslim stronghold of Sumatra but are rumoured to have cooked the first missionaries in the Batak cooking pots before bowing to the Roman Faith, bet that was an unexpected and unpleasant surprise to these so-called Men of God being eaten by those they came to convert, their white European flesh going down hungry native throats, being transformed into human energy and the remaining wastes sh*t out and used for fertiliser on their rice paddies.

Yeah the path of the God-Send doesn't always go across a road of rose petals!!!

Nowadays though, Europeans are warmly welcomed bringing in hard needed dough that can be used to send the brighteste of the village boys to college in Medan, or the even further away Jakarta on Java.

Additional photos below
Photos: 5, Displayed: 5


Laundry dayLaundry day
Laundry day

on Samosir Island
The origins of the Batak peopleThe origins of the Batak people
The origins of the Batak people

according to the Indonesian Handbook by Moon Publications, edition 1991 by Bill Danton.
The origins of the Batak peopleThe origins of the Batak people
The origins of the Batak people

according to Lonely Planet's guide on Indonesia, edition januari 1990.

7th August 2009

Where do you get your "facts" about the Batak people in this unflattering piece of journalism ? The Batak people tracing their origins to the Karen people of Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar), this is the first time I have heard of this, are you able to prove this ? Please do The Bataks were cannibals at one time, who would eat convicted criminals, not just anyone. I suppose they thought of the first German Christian missionaries as criminals. I think it would be more factual to state that Sumatra is a Christian stronghold in a Muslim country. There are some Muslim Bataks peoples but most are Christians who are very serious about their faith. Some are Roman Catholic, some Orthodox, but most are Protestants, they even have their own Batak national church which most belong to, the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP), which translates into the Batak Christian Protestant Church, is the largest Protestant denomination in Indonesia, with a reported membership of almost three million faithful. I can hardly believe the Bataks used human shit as a fertilizer for their rice paddies, is that how they grow food in your country ? There are many very beautiful Batak women ( my wife being one) and they are highly prized as wives by many of the ethnic groups in Indonesia as well as Europeans since marriage traditions are a intricate part of their culture and they are known for being faithful ,loving and family oriented spouses Please, my friend, do better research about people and places before writing any more pieces of sensational fiction for your travel blog
10th August 2009

Batks coming from Burma is a myth
Perhaps I was a little too nasty with my last reply, I'm sorry, but being Dutch I'm sure your use to it. So. anyways, I believe I have found the origin for the myth that the Bataks of Indonesia came from Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). I will quote from the book The House in Southeast Asia by Stephen Sparkes and Signe Howell of the Nordic Association for S>E> Asian Studies and the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies on page 115, speaking about Batak house construction "With some imagination the house resembles a ship on poles, which was seen by some romantic ethnologists as evidence of the MYTH that the Bataks have sailed to Sumatra from an area which is now called Burma" So you see there is no evidence for your claims that the Bataks came from the Karen people of Thailand and Burma. Don't take my word for it, ask any Batak, no where have I ever heard any say there is any true to your myth Mina P.S. here is the sacred web link
11th August 2009

reaction from the autor
Though I'm appaled by the vile and abuse in your vocabulary I have gone to the trouble of copying and publishing my sources. If they are wrong no reason to badmouth poor me for, I would rather you save some of that stuff for Lonely Planet head office in Melbourne or for the Moon Publications instead. Nor am I much impressed by your critical approach to my nationality, can't understand the reasons for that..or your wh*orehouse wishes on my behalf...really below the belt and I can only feel happy that that sort of SH*T is beyond me!!! I'm quite happy to continue this conversation aboutn my blog any further provided you leave that abusive language there where it belongs...NAMELY INDIDE YOUR OWN HEAD!!! As a final point: My blog did stir some STRONG emotions in you considering the amount and intentions of your comments...though negative in their nature - even vulgar, vile and abusive to the max - I consider that POSITIVE in its very nature. Hans.
14th December 2009

Mina, your style of argument is poor. Your scholarship, lacking. Even you believe the myth that Bataks were cannibals. They were not. ( As for Hans, leave him alone. He is only a simple traveler who cannot be asked to question some words, especially words printed on paper. A blogger, by nature, wants to spew forth his thoughts. Asking him to think for himself, is another matter.
22nd January 2010

Batak, Burma, Cannibalisme etc.
Mauliate, Boru Nauli and others. I agree that the quality of this arrogant and racist blog is about as low as it gets - but some of the comments are interesting. Allen, quoting some obscure "wiki-answers" as if they contained the ultimate truth is not a good example of scholarship. The overwhelming evidence does point to the fact that some (but not all) of the Batak ethnic groups did indeed practice ritual anthropophagy. That the Batak originate from the Karen has actually been proposed by Batak themselves, notably Karo Batak who thought that the word 'Karo' somehow resembled 'Karen'. Of course this is pure folk etymology. The theory that the Batak and other so called "proto-Malay" people originate from mainland Southeast Asia has been postulated in the 1920ies or 1930ies by the Austrian anthropologist Heine-Gelderen, and is still very popular in Indonesia. Modern archaeological and linguistic studies have shown that the Austronesian entered Indonesia from the Philippines and not from mainland SEA and there is no good reason why the Batak should be an exception. The story, hinted at by Boru Na Uli, that the missionaries Lyman and Munson were eaten by the Batak in 1834 was created by the German missionaries, notably Nommensen. There is absolutely no proof that they were eaten and the early reports point only mention that they were killed. Finding any reliable information on the Internet on Batak history is, unfortunately, difficult.
23rd January 2010

racism in my blog
I am amazed at the vile language by some of the reactions to my blog. I find for example no proof of racist remarks in my blog, purely observations from a personal objective. I clearely state in my blog that some of the stuff I wrote down came from Batak people I met on this trip in 2009, though I have to admit that during my years of backpacking around the globe with my old and bulky backpack my only real amigo, I have met dozens upon dozens of locals who accuse the Western tourist of racism when things don't go the way they like it/see it...plainly put you don't like my blog, don't READ it. Or else have the nerves to challenge me to a fair debate. I do accept your comment though being a strong believer that everybody on this planet, whatever creed or race is entitled to his/her own opinion. Hans, the author.

Tot: 0.036s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 13; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0066s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.3mb