Introducing my first backpacking trip way back in 2014.
I decided to go for Medan because it was the safest in terms of ;
Accommodations were all booked through www.booking.com
A very reliable site with promotion deals and hostel/homestay/hotel choices
Medan (City Center) - 1 night
When in Medan, NEVER MISS OUT on the chance to get a cup of ALPUKAT, also known as Avocada Shake.
It is cheap and it is EVERYWHERE.
The sweet, thick texture of the shake brought me to a near gastronomical orgasm.
Then again, a lot of great food does that to me. lol. I have an awesome relationship with food.
Food in Medan were distinctively more or less like Malaysians. Besides that, there were loads of Indonesian cuisine back in Malaysia, so we 'd like to think we did not miss as much. However, it was said that when in Indonesia in general, one should not miss out on Nasi Padang
Nasi Padang is basically steamed rice served with various pre-cooked dishes.
Similar to the Malaysian Nasi Campur, literally meaning mixed rice.
A night in the city gave us the time to explore the area on foot. There was not much to see and the nearest attraction was only available by car or becak.
The plan was to visit the Graha Maria Anna Velangkanni that was within the city area.
But having been arriving Medan late in the evening, we decided to settle in and just explore the neighboring area on foot for pictures and food hunting.
Danau Toba (Lake Toba) - 2 nights
Parapat is about 4 hr by car from Medan or 4-6 hr by public bus. As mentioned, the locals here advice tourists and backpackers alike to travel by car instead of public buses as the buses can get a little crowded and uncomfortable for a long period of time.
Another great way to get to Lake Toba is by train. Two trains leave each day in that direction and you want to get off either at Pematang Siantar or Tebing Tinggi.
If you want to get to the train directly from Medan airport, get a taxi or becak, and tell them or write Lapangan Merdeka and Setasiun Kereta Api Medan. By taxi, it's about an hour and a half ride to the train station
However, our starting point was from the the city itself and not the airport (airport is about 45 minutes away from the city center). For convenience, we decided to rent a 7 seater MPV along with a Batak couple RP 110 K/pax and pick up is done at your hotel's doorstep! :)
We were stopped at Parapat, the station where all were stopped at in order to get a ferry across the magnificient Lake Toba to the vast accommodation made available for tourist on Samosir Island.
We went during the monsoon season so there wasn't as much tourist on the island.
On a side not, Medan itself may be as cold as Malaysia could get but mind you, Lake Toba can get very cold at night! Especially during the wet seasons.
We arrived on the island late in the evening (yet again) so we decide to settle in and relax, take our dinner in the guesthouse's bar and sleep for the night.
The very next day, we woke up early, took our breakfast and decided to bike around the island (Tuk Tuk area only) to explore. All we had to do was to rent the house bikes.
Little did we know biking was a deliriously super hard job even when our rented bikes had gears. We did not train for this! What with the hilly roads on the island, our legs grew tired and i felt as if my bum was literally about to come off. (DOWNHILL roads were awesome!) Great leg day though!!
When attempting to bike around the island, make sure to have your breakfast or else you'll be in BIG trouble!
We managed a gruesome 9 hours bike ride, approximately 20 km with short breaks in between as for sight seeing and decided to turn back. We were sore from the waist down!!
I hope that did something for my glutes.
A cushioned chair or bed was heaven for the remaining trip.lol
We decided to stop at one of the island's attraction: Huta Siallagan literally meaning Siallagan Kingdom/Village/Settlement or also known as King Siallagan's Stone Chair.
Known in Bahasa Indonesia as Kerusi Persidangan. These relics are as real as it gets and is well maintained since it's birth some 700 years ago. Kerusi Persidangan or literally meaning Court Chairs, are used by the Batak ancestors to held court sessions under the rein of His Majesty the King of Siallagan.
Besides the chairs, visitors are able to see traditional Batak houses as well. One of these house had been turned into a museum regarding the village and Batak cultures
The entrance to Huta Siallagan is marked by a giant guard stone statue known as Pangulubalang. The statue is said to serve as a guardian to ward off evil spirits.
Visitors are to enter the settlement from its southwest entrance and exit from the east gate having to walk through vast stalls that sells souvenirs inside the settlement.
For those who are not interested or cycle around the island. There is always to option to rent a motorcycle or hire a car to bring you around. Just ask your friendly hotel receptionist. :)
The island's road are pretty easy to navigate and you will never get lost as the main road goes around the island in huge circle!
BTW, remember to bring a poncho during wet seasons as it poured down quite a bit when we went over.
(May it be on and off)
On the way back we decided to stop for souvenirs and snacks at a nearby village and market in Tomok.
As for meals, the pricing on the island are rather affordable as most food available are not fancy and are very limited for my taste. Great for a budget trip!
The island seems to be a big fan of banana pancake. I see banana pancakes on menus everywhere!
By this time our legs are almost numb considering how tired we were from the cycling. Unfortunately for us as there were still loads of attractions in the area we did not get to see. So, we decided to head back and be done for the day.
Before heading back to the room, we decided to by a local library out of curiosity.
For book lovers out there, the island have libraries too!! Books from these libraries are from travelers alike that exchanged their books for new ones or have donated their books to the management. There was one just next to our guesthouse!
For book lovers like me, I recommend you go find yourself a library nearby when visiting the island
After an awfully good night sleep, we woke up early the next morning to catch the early morning ferry to Parapat .
Make sure to ask your friend hotel staff or receptionist regarding the timing of the ferry pick up. There is no appointment whatsoever to get on the ferry. All you have to do is wait at the exact same spot they leave you at the beginning of your stay in Tuk Tuk. As some hotels or accommodation does not have a jetty but rather a small cemented area also used as a sun bathing area. Which got us confused as to how the ferry crews would know if we were waiting for them to pick us up. (you can wave if you want when you see the ferry but we didn't. I guess they just knew because we brought our bags along with us)
Here a link of an idea on what to do on the island:
Things to do on Lake Toba
Berastagi - 1 night
Parapat to Brastagi took over 1.5 to 2 hours drive(without traffic). Plus, if you are lucky, your driver would stop at certain spots for pictures.
Locals go to Berastagi mainly for the weather. Nice, cold and misty when need be.
However our trip to the upper hills of Berastagi was rather disappointing and tiring.
Unfortunately for us, the car that we rented decided to give out on it's gear box and we had to skip the famous Sepiso Piso waterfall because we wouldn't make it in time if we stopped by.
We safely but again arrived very late in the evening at our hotel. Lucky us :(
As for our last day in Indonesia, we decided to go a bit grand as there was a promotion on booking.com for a hotel 5 star hotel. Why not?!
But sadly because of car trouble, we arrived very late in Berastagi and could not make any time to go around.
What we thought a 1.5 to 2 hour drive turned into a 6 hour drive (traffic and car problem). T.T
So, we yet again decided to just explore nearby area by foot. Good thing our hotel had a beautiful landscape though.
The hotel we stayed in apparently was one of the best in Berastagi and it also had a theme park attached but was closed the very day we came over. Such luck :(
The area around our hotel was rather disappointing. I was hoping for a mountain view of something like that but rather was blocked by rows of nonuniform buildings and residential areas.
The cold temperature in the area compensated for the lack of attractiveness of the place After a long, tiring, disappointing day, we decided to have a non-Indonesian dinner at the hotel restaurant as I was craving for a burger real bad. I deserved one from what I've been through!
We googled how long would it take o drive from Berastagi to Kuala Namu Airport.
It says 1 hour and 56 minutes as it is only 91.5 km away from each other.
We did our trip in 4 hours!! TRAFFIC!
Good thing our flight was at 5 PM and we took early precautions to ask the locals and booked our taxi the day before.
Before heading back to Medan however, our taxi driver was kind enough to bring us around and gave us the surprise by bringing us to the Golden Temple of Berastagi after listening to a rather lengthy complaints from us regarding our lack of visits to attractions in the area due to terrible planning and bad lucks.
Pak Bangun, thank you for the kind gesture!
We arrived the airport safely and even had time to spare for our last sip of Alpukat before we head back to Malaysia for good.
Due to terrible planning and a series of unfortunate events, we did not manage to do alot of thiings and explore Medan, lake Toba and Berastagi to it's full potential.
However sad and under luck that may be, for those interested, I linked a set of things that one can TRY to do when in Berastagi.
Here a link of an idea on what to do in Berastagi:
Things to do in Berastagi
Flight ticket round trip- MYR 189- (Airasia)
1st Day - Kuala Lumpur - Medan (Kuala Namu Airport) - City Centre
Accommodation- RP 125k
Dinner- RP 43k
Taxi to Parapat - Rp 110k
Becha+tip - Rp 60k ( i think we got conned lol)
Train (Kaula Namu Airport to Medan town) - Rp 60k
TOTAL = Rp 408.05k = MYR 110.69
2ND Day- City Centre - Parapat - Samosir Island
As of Sep 2012, there is only one Cirrus/MasterCard ATM on the island (at the white beach entrance) so you should get enough cash at Parapat before crossing the lake to the island. This ATM DOES NOT ACCEPT VISA Cards. So please ensure you take sufficient cash from the many ATMs in Parapat before you come to Samosir.
Drink - Rp 8k
Lunch - Rp 23k
Accommodation - Rp 200k
Ferry trip (Parapat - Lekjon) - Rp10k
Taxi to Berastagi - Rp120k
Dinner - Rp 30k
TOTAL = Rp 391k = MYR 106.06
3RD Day - Samosir Island
Bicycle Rental - Rp 80k
Huta Siallagan (Stonechair) entry - Rp 3k
Lunch - Rp 22k
Dinner -Rp 41k
TOTAL = Rp 146k = MYR 39.60
4TH Day - Samosir Island - Parapat - Berastagi
Breakfast - Rp 2k
Snacks -Rp 9.5k
Ferry (Lukjon to Parapat) - Rp10k
Lunch - Rp22.5k
Bellboy tip- Rp 10k
Tea time- Rp 21k
Accommodation - Rp150k
Dinner- Rp 27k
TOTAL =Rp 252k = MYR 68.36
5TH Day Berastagi - Medan (Kuala Namu Airport) - Kuala Lumpur
Free Buffet Breakfast
Lunch (Alpukat drink) = Rp30k
Airport taxi (Brastagi to Kuala Namu Airport) - Rp 250k
Airport Tax (Interaional) - Rp 200k
TOTAL = Rp 480k = MYR 130.20
GRAND TOTAL EXPENSES = RM 643.91 approx $ 182USD
all include transportation, flight, food and sightseeing!
Though personally i think the itinerary was not properly planned, hence the trip was mostly wasted on travelling on the road (TRAFFIC JAM plus the roads are mostly single lanes and not smooth