March 29, 2010

The Three Batak Megalithic

The three megalithic sites on Samosir bear witness to the glory and horror of Batak history. The three consist of 300-year-old stone seats and benches arrayed in a circle. The first set of ruins was used as a conference area for Batak kings. At the second site, the kings would sit in judgment of a criminal or enemy prisoner. If the accused were found guilty, the assembly would move to the third set, which features the ghastly addition of a central stone execution block.

Other, less gruesome attraction can occupy many days of exploration and discovery. All over the island are superb examples of traditional Batak houses, with elaborate carvings and decorations. Performance of life-size is Gale-gale wooden puppet are held frequently, and at any moment, the musical Batak might break into an impromptu song, the seeming effortless, multi-part harmonies belying the casual setting.
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Uniqueness of Lake Toba

Unlike any other lake, if you think about the location — close to the equator — and look at the picture, you will realize that there is something strange about the lake. Most large lakes were formed by glaciers; large lakes close to the equator are sometimes formed by the damming of a large river. But there is no large river flowing into Lake Toba. The lake has a different and more dramatic origin.

Lake Toba marks the site of the largest volcanic eruption in the last 2 million years. It is, like Yellowstone, a “resurgent caldera”, or as geologists David Alt and Daniel Hyndman call this type of volcano, a “perfect horror”. Alt and Hyndman call resurgent calderas “perfect horrors” because they are both violent and enormous.

The size of Lake Toba may be a little difficult to grasp from the picture, so to give you some comparisons.

In Washington state, if the lake were aligned north to south in the Puget Sound area, it would stretch from Everett to Tacoma. In the Chicago area, it would stretch from Waukegan to Gary. In New York, it would stretch from West Point to the Statue of Liberty. This is one enormous volcano.
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March 25, 2010

Shopping in Toba Lake

Parapat Open Market is a good place to get started with your Toba Lake shopping. The market offers an array of items from household goods to your run of the mill standard souvenirs. All prices are negotiable, so brush up on your bargaining skills before venturing into the market. Parapat market is a great place for locals to sell their fruits, vegetables, and there is a sprawling row of butchers. Not only is Parapat Open Market ideal for buying produce, general toiletries, clothes, and souvenirs, but it is an excellent venue for people watching - make sure to bring your camera (it is always polite to ask locals before taking their photo).

Deli Shopping Center in Medan is a four story retail outlet. Most of the shops within the Deli Shopping Center are clothing, and shoes stores, with a variety of mom and pop eateries. The prices here are fixed like most other shopping malls worldwide, but you can find some great bargains. Gold is relatively cheap in this area of the world, and gold is the one thing you should always bargain on for price. The Deli Shopping Center is also notorious as being a gay social center.

Local Crafts are scattered about the Toba Lake region, you might find them near your hotel, or along the side of the road, but the quality is always generally pretty good. Along the road from Simanindo to Tuk Tuk you will find some excellent woven fabrics. For about $30 US you can purchase a beautiful, hand woven rug with gold thread, a wonderful Toba Lake keepsake. Another good choice to bring back would be the traditional Batak Ulos. The Ulos are a traditional shoe that are woven with a Batak fabric. The Batak people only wear the shoes for special occasions, such as weddings, or funerals, but they are used in Batak homes as decoration.
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Sights in Toba Lake

Toba Lake boasts magnificent scenery and is surrounded by mountains. It offers the perfect place to relax and relax in the tranquility of nature. Located in Lake Toba is the island of Samosir, which is a popular tourist attraction. Samosir can be reached from the mainland by ferry.

Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk is worth a visit and is an area where many tourists frequent. Visitors can admire the beautiful views over Toba Lake and also enjoy the shopping in Tuk Tuk. There are a variety of shopping options in this area, including many second hand book shops. An alternative activity to take part in is a woodcarving lesson, to learn the skill of the traditional woodcarving practiced in this area.

Tomok

Tomok is an area where there are many locals and it is therefore a good place to experience the local culture. Here you can enjoy the delicious local food and also purchase a souvenir to take home with you. The tribe of Toba Batak live on the island and they have a rich cultural history. In Tomok is the burial place of King Sidabutur, and visitors to Tomok can visit his grave. Historically, King Sidabutur is significant as he spread the word of Christianity to the Batak people.

Ambiarita

In Ambiaritta you can see the famous stone chairs which are approximately 300 years old. Historically, this is where criminals that were on trial sat to face their judgment. If they were found guilty they were beaten and eventually beheaded. After this process, their bodies were thrown into Toba Lake. Parts of their bodies were eaten by the King and locals.

Hot Springs

The hot springs are located 40 kilometers from Tuk Tuk.

Swimming

Swimming in Toba Lake is the perfect way to refresh yourself. Some hotels have created areas in the Lake that are safe for children to swim in.

Boat Trip

Take a boat trip on the Lake. If you are looking for an interesting location to party, then get a group of people together and go on a party cruise along the lake.

Trekking and Hiking

The areas surrounding Toba Lake offer hiking trails through beautiful scenery. Tours are available.
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Practical Information in Toba Lake

Toba Lake is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and it was formed from a volcanic eruption. The surrounding area is mountainous and in the center of the lake is an island called Samosir. Lake Toba has a length of 100 meters and a width of 30 meters. Its depth is 505 meters. Lake Toba is the perfect destination for adventurous travelers, as there are a variety of activities on offer to get your adrenaline racing.

Population

The population size is 517,050. The majority of people living around Toba Lake are from the Batak tribe. They have a unique culture and are friendly people. Evidence of their unique culture is their houses, which have curved roofs. To learn more about Batak culture you can enjoy a traditional Batak dance or music performance.

Climate

Toba Lake has a tropical climate, so the temperature is warm at all times of the year with an average of 20C. Monsoon season is November to February and heavy rain will be experienced during this time. Dry season is the best time to visit and it extends from May until September, with the best months being June and July.

Nature

There is a variety of flora and fauna around Toba Lake. Toba Lake is home to many different fish species. The majority of the terrain in the surrounding area is mountainous. There are endangered animals in this area, for example the Orangutan and Sumatran Tiger.

Transport

You can get to Toba Lake by bus from Sumatra. There are trains and planes to areas that are near Toba Lake, and then a bus can be caught to Toba Lake from the station or airport.

Getting around Toba Lake is possible by boat. School boats are less expensive but are sporadic, whereas the more expensive public boats operate regularly during the day. It's possible to hire a motorbike to get around on land. There is not a lot of traffic, but it's advisable to take a map and be cautious while driving. Walking or hiring a bicycle are other options to get around. There are no taxis or tuk tuks.

Religion

The majority of people are Christian as the result of Christian missionaries that came to the area in the 1850s. A Muslim minority is present.

Safety

There are no major safety concerns in this area, but it's advisable to follow normal precautions against crime.

Food

There is a wide range of delicious food on offer. Traditionally, food is spicy, but Western food is available.

Economy

Agriculture is an important part of the economy. Farming, fishing, cash crops, livestock and tourism are all valuable sources of income for the local population.

Language

Locals speak a variety of Batak dialects, all originating from the Austronesian language family.
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Day Trips in Toba Lake

The Batak People

Toba Lake is found on the northernmost part of Sumatra, Indonesia. When you began your day you will be amazed by the colorful homes of the Batak people. You will see their works such as intricate weaving and carving, aspects of their daily lives, and samples of their foods. Seeing the Batak people is one of the best ideas for day trips in Toba Lake.

Waters of Toba Lake

Many people will be surprised by the size of this lake. Some people might even think the sea is an ocean, since it is located on the crater of a huge volcano that said to be responsible for the death of almost every resident due to its eruption. The tropical setting and the sun make the place ideal. It is true that the water may be a bit too cold for swimming but the human body adjusts to the temperature once it is in the water. There are several luxurious hotels around the area where you can be pampered after a swim in this crater lake.

Boating on Toba Lake

People can also rent a boat or find a local tourist guide. There are a lot of things to see in Lake Toba. The place is virtually isolated from civilization. It takes around 4 hours to reach the lake from the nearest city. From the lake you can see the people fishing in Toba Lake. If you are lucky you might even taste their succulent tilapia fish dish. When you look at the shore you will see the green surroundings and the homes that have a curve on their roofs.

Renting a Cabin

The whole family can rent a cabin in the region of Lake Toba. This is a true cultural experience where you can not only see how people interact in their own surroundings but as the traveler you can form part of the community even if for just a moment. The cabins are very modest and lack most of the luxuries of the big hotels but give you an idea of the life in Toba Lake. The best of all day trips and ideas in Toba Lake is spending time among the locals.
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March 24, 2010

When to Go in Toba Lake

From the sky view, Toba Lake appears as a water playground with the city of Sumatra in the middle. Stretching one hundred kilometers long and thirty kilometers wide, this is not just any typical lake.

Toba Lake creation formed due to a volcanic eruption. The natural construction of the lake happened by an occasion of three eruptions. The ash from the volcano mounted the land and overlaid it rising many feet. The lake came about over time with lots of rain and nowhere for the water to go. Listed as a supervolcano, there is only one other in its likeness in Wyoming, the Yellowstone Caldera, also known as Yellowstone River.

When planning a trip to go to Toba Lake, one must take in the fact that there is still the possibility of the volcano erupting again, as it still does from time to time. The majority of the isle of Sumatra sits on the equator. The climate can change instantly, being hot and humid at one point and heavy rain the next. During the summer months, weather can reach extreme highs. From May to September, the weather is considerably the driest. The fall and winter months normally produces the most rain.

Though it is not certain when the volcano did erupt, there is belief that it happened during the summer months. An occurrence, such as this, stated could only have happened during the summer monsoon season. Due to cooler temperatures during the winter, the amount of carbon needed to create and maintain such heat, which could happen in the summer, show the best time to visit Toba Lake, is during the winter months. However, the early part of the dry season, the beginning of May, when the weather is changing from being slightly cool to warm, is also an ideal time to go.

At any point one does decide to visit the city of Sumatra and go to Toba Lake, it is wise to bring with you a raincoat, sunscreen and cool fabrics.
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