Sumopore Sojourn: Land of the Batak

Day 4: Wednesday April 15th, 2015.

Lake Toba – here at last.

We are now on the main island Pulau Samosir, which is about the same size as Singapore Island. We awoke this morning in the town of Tuk Tuk, which is a traditional home of the Batak people.

Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Linguistic and archaeological evidence indicates that Austronesian speakers first reached Sumatra from Taiwan and the Philippines through Borneo and/or Java about 2,500 years ago, and the Batak probably descended from these settlers. While the archaeology of southern Sumatra testifies to the existence of neolithic settlers, it seems that the northern part of Sumatra was settled by agriculturalists at a considerably later stage.

Batak societies are patriarchally organized along clans known as Marga. A traditional belief among the Toba Batak is that they originate from one ancestor “Si Raja Batak”, with all Margas descended from him. A family tree that defines the father-son relationship among Batak people is called tarombo. In contemporary Indonesia, Batak people have a strong focus on education and a prominent position in the professions, particularly as teachers, engineers, doctors and lawyers. Toba Batak are known traditionally for their weaving, wood carving and especially ornate stone tombs. Ritual cannibalism is well documented among Batak people, performed in order to strengthen the eater’s tendi [“life soul”]. In particular, the blood, heart, palms and soles of the feet were seen as rich in tendi. – Wiki

Feeding the rabbits

At almost 6am there were roosters crowing, dogs barking and outside our window a view of a lake as big as a sea. Felix is itching to meet the resident puppy and feed the rabbits. Lucas is keen to take the kayak out. Reuben wants to go fishing. We have been so warmly welcomed here at Horas and it is such a wonderful place. So much to do and they are all so excited! Have to pinch ourselves to believe we are finally here at the fabled Lake Toba.

Soon the boys are dressed and with a firm warning to stay away from the water, are out the door to feed the rabbits. With the sounds of the staff up and about to indulge them, Graham and I enjoy a well deserved sleep-in in the comfort of our luxurious bed.

When the boys hunger peaks we are all out to indulge in our first huge breakfast on the jetty and who can resist a sit on the diving board. Magic!

The bounty of the lake shore

Soon the puppy has been found, the rabbits have been fed – many times over, the vegie patch inspected and a swim has been promised later in the day. Now we are ready to set off on our first walk of Tuk Tuk.

As we saunter, we meet some chatty local school boys and enjoy the traditional architecture of the traditional Batak houses and stone carvings. We stop to admire a Cacao tree and it isn’t long before the friendly owner calls us over to show us his seeds drying in the sun. They collect them for onward sale but do not process or use the seeds themselves.

Soon we are stopping for a drink, the only customers in this lovely roadside stop. Graham and I share a tall beer whilst the boys are persuaded to try freshly-squeezed tamarillo juice, which is wonderful. We watch over our boys from the restaurant, as they explore the nearby jetty and squat to touch all the leaves of the mimosa pudica, whose leaves fold on touching – a source of endless fascination. We wonder how our three young men have grown so confident and independent. They are such firm friends. As they wander and laugh together so visually small in the distance, they grow ever larger in our hearts.

The short stop turns into a long one and soon we are eating a fantastic creamy chicken curry. In fact it’s so good, when we finish it we promptly order another.

Another long walk takes us to the main cluster of smarter cafe’s. We sit in one, serenaded by a group of guitar strumming locals nearby. The view is spectacular. As we sip on Sumatran coffee and eat fried bananas; the boys play cards, sometimes hopping outside to listen to the singers. We spend lazy hours, eating, talking, reading and chatting. Now we feel really chilled out…

Well-rested we break away from the main road and wander through smaller laneways, winding back home. We pass smiling local families, a small school, lush rice fields, squealing pigs, plump chickens and fruiting banana trees.

Now back to the warmth of our little apartment, we rest and swim. Prunella stops to admire and record many of the beautiful orchids lovingly cared for by our hosts. Breathtaking.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the evening, we enjoy another lovely meal on our balcony, and pop next door to see some traditional music and dancing. Soon we are running home through the warm evening rain then curled up in warm beds, chatting about what a fantastic day this this been. Magic…


  1. Thanks for commenting on my blog – such a coincidence but I was thinking of going to Sumatra in the next few weeks… but unfortunately I read your posts AFTER I’d already booked a ticket elsewhere. Aggh. Will have to go another time!


Leave a Reply to Style Wilderness Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s