Part 3: Medan… Lake Toba

Stepping off a plank at Lake Toba

Jumping off a Plank at Lake Toba

wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

At first look, it seemed too easy. Looking up from the edge of the lake, I saw my friends jump off the plank one by one in a few simple steps – walk up to the plank and jump off freestyle into the lake, with not so much as breaking a sweat.

As I stood by the plank, I had to gather all the strength and courage in my body to place my foot onto the wooden plank and take the first step. A few inches later, I could feel the plank wobbling to my every step, trying to balance my weight.

The plank felt ever more unsteady as I approached the edge. As I stood there, standing in the midst of the air, above the lake, looking into the horizon and shaking like a leaf inside, I could feel the gentle breeze and the ends of my hair standing as I slowly inched my way towards the edge of the plank, for my epic jump into Lake Toba.

My heart felt as though it could stop – it had wanted to stop. Stop so that it didn’t have to face that element of fear no more. It was begging me not to jump. But, there was no turning back – the width of the plank was too narrow for any U-turn. My heartbeat weakened. Then, I began to feel afraid as I did not want it to stop. It would be shocking for my friends waiting below if my heart would have just stopped and for me to just fall over the plank dead and motionless.

Olympic diving came to my mind – I have noticed how the divers stand right at the edge before they jumped – I know that I don’t want to hit my head on the sturdy wooden plank when I jump, so I inched my little toes closer to the edge, until my big toe was just over the edge of the plank, perched firmly.

I took in a few deep breaths, and prepared my mind to scream, shout and swear as I jump.

Breathe in… breathe out. Breathe in… breathe out.

I think it took me another 5 minutes before I coaxed my body and mind to lift my foot off and go for the dive. I lifted my right foot, took a step forward and fell silently in a graceful manner before I plunged into the deep lake like a clumsy elephant, butt first. Oh, did my bottom hurt!

As I sank deep beneath the water, all I could think of was to swim back up to the surface because it was eerily quiet in the water – not to mention the pain in my nose from the water that went in as I splashed into the lake, and the pain on my butt like it was slapped by the water.

All in all, it had been an exhilarating experience. Astounding. Bizarre. Not something that I would do again in the near future.

What have I done to get into this situation?

It was just a few days into the New Year, I was  off to friend’s wedding in Medan. A piece of advice – if you’re travelling from Kuala Lumpur (via AirAsia), it’s only a 55-minute flight, so, don’t bother with pre-ordering food; that was something some in my entourage didn’t realise (me inclusive), and we bought food. It must have been the silliest thing we have ever done – we had to quickly gulp down our hot food as it was descending, on its way to land, and with our trays already back in its place because we were told to do so. We looked at each other in bewilderment and laughed at that experience. So, truly, do not pre-order food: it’s only a 55-minute ride, and there isn’t enough time to eat. By the time food arrived, we were already in landing mode.

Once we have landed at the airport, the simple no frills airport, it was just a relief that we didn’t spill any food on us and landed safely. Alas, our joy was not to last because a luggage was left behind at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, and we had to wait for the next flight – a bummer, but luckily, we waited for only, say, 2 hours.

Anywho, we attended the glorious wedding, and headed for Lake Toba the very next morning. After a long ride of say, 8 hours, with stops for lunch and a minor breakdown due to some mechanical error, we finally get to the Parapat jetty for our boat ride to Samosir, Lake Toba.

Moon at Parapat, Lake Toba

Sneak peak of the lake from Parapat.

Lake Toba

It was a cool boat ride – just the 28 of us, plus the crew…and a beautiful-sunset-on-the-lake experience.

Sunset at Lake Toba

Sunset at Lake Toba

The energy was definitely positive.

Upon arrival at our resort at Samosir, we got ready for BBQ and dinner. It’s dark by the time we’re ready to start the fire and cook. One thing that one must have when one is in Lake Toba is the “magic mushrooms omelette“.

Magic Mushrooms at Lake Toba

Magic Mushroom. Verdict: 7/10. It actually tastes good and just like any ordinary omelette with mushrooms and tomatoes, except, the mushrooms ain’t ordinary. Interesting series of events had happened throughout the night (which shall not be disclosed here), but all in all, it had been fun and funny. Truly an experience not to forget, but perhaps, not to be repeated.

Early next morning, after a ‘hearty’ breakfast of noodles, we set off for some sight-seeing around the area – on bicycles and motorbikes that were for rent at a rather cheap price. It had been a beautiful day – sunny clear blue sky, with fresh green grass, paddy, and mountains.

Cycling at Lake Toba

In the village, we came across some durian sellers and someone roasting a suckling pig – “babi guling”. We left the “babi guling” alone, but bought some local durians.

Durian at Lake Toba

Durian. Verdict – 8.5/10. The durians were good –  milky soft, aromatic but not pungent, sweet but not too sweet. It was perfect.

For lunch, other than durian, we had freshly-baked buns. So soft, so fluffy, so fresh, and so warm!

Piping hot soft bun at Lake Toba

Verdict: 8.5/10. Nicely out from the oven, there were at least three different flavours – coconut, chocolate, peanut butter.

After spending another awesome night in Medan, we left the next morning, back to Medan. Along the way, we stopped for lunch and coffee in Siantar.

Kok Tong, famous for its coffee and buns.

Kok Tong Coffee Siantar, Medan

Kok Tong Coffee. Verdict: 5/10. It was too sweet! I took out heaps of sugar from the coffee, and it was still sweet. Very sweet. Mixed with some coffee without sugar, and it was good. Good black coffee.

A few more hours of singing in the bus and cracking lame jokes, and we’re back in Medan. For dinner, we went to Bintang, and had a lavish feast – we probably had 100 dishes to feed 25 people, spread across four dining tables, with drinks of all kinds and colours.

Steamed Fish, Sayur Asem, and other food at Bintang, Medan and other Non-vegetarian Food from everywhere in Medan

Bintang. Verdict: Steamed fish: 8.5/10. Sayur Asem: 8/10. Other foods that I’ve tried – 8/10.

Vegetarian food at Bintang, Medan

Bintang Vegetarian Food. Verdict: 8.5/10. Love the variety and use of fresh vegetables rather than mock meat.

It was a good dinner; we all felt fulfilled. Satisfied. Full to the fullest.

The next morning, just before our trip to airport, we stopped by this famous duck noodles shop for breakfast.

Delicious Duck Noodles @ Hao Bao, No. 17, Jalan Kumango, Medan

Duck Noodles. Verdict: 8.5/10.  It was awesome! I’ve never had this type of duck noodles, and for breakfast, it was surprisingly not too heavy. It’s delicious!

Medan and Lake Toba, I’ll be back for more! 😀


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