Lake Toba Part 4 – And Back Again

On my fourth and final day off at Lake Toba, I awoke feeling far better than I had the day before.  I had been on Whatsapp silence all of Tuesday because I needed to use my energy reserves to sleep and to get in and out of the car; I had none left for texting.  But on Wednesday morning when I awoke at 3 am, I was thankfully better.  After doing my devotions, I broke my Whatsapp silence.  I was ready to greet the day.  We were heading back to Medan so that I could catch my early evening flight but we were making a few stops along the way.  So after a truly awful breakfast, we were off.

Our first stop was a temple.  I don’t remember the name but it was closed so we kept it moving.  I didn’t mind because it was really quite a visually…overwhelming…structure and my eyes could barely handle it from the gate, much less up close.

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I’m just gonna leave this here and walk away

Then we moved on to the place I had been anticipating since the day before – the hot springs of Gunung Sibayak, Berastagi’s other volcano, the quiet one.  I was looking forward to it more than the waterfalls of the day before.  It was hot water heated by magma from a volcano.  What wasn’t to anticipate?

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Steam from the hot springs of Gunung Sibayak

The experience was pleasant.  I had expected to get into a natural rocky pool, much like the hot springs of Gunung Rinjani in Lombok.  This wasn’t that at all.  The hot springs of Gunung Sibayak have been built up, so there are different facilities with pools of piped-in hot springs water.  I was a little disappointed at first, especially because it all looks so tacky and not at all natural.  However, in the end, I didn’t mind too much.  I could smell the sulphur in the water so I figured it hadn’t been processed too much.  So I enjoyed a 30-minute dip and a nice view of the volcano before we were on our way again.  Now, we were on a straight shoot to Medan, where we would see a few sights before Pak deposited me at the airport.

This is what I saw first in Medan.

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Ahhhmmm, what?

This is the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health.  This is a Catholic church.  I had been looking forward to visiting a church.  I’m not gonna lie, my first thought upon seeing it was, “Why?  Why dem do di good-good church dis?”  To me, it looked like a a holy funland, but apparently it’s the good priest’s vision.  Still, I entered the sanctuary, knelt and prayed in thanksgiving for…well, for just about everything in my life.  Honestly, I had expected to end up in tears in that church but I think I was a little distracted by the…well, by the everything-ness of it…so I didn’t.  Still, I had a nice, quiet few moments with God.

We moved on to Taman Buaya.  That’s a crocodile park, for those of you who don’t speak Indonesian.  Ugh!  It was chilling, to say the least.  There were pens of crocodiles lazing about and a big swamp behind the pens with even more or them there.

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Those aren’t logs in the water
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Ew ew ew ew EEEEWWWWWWWW!!!

I saw the biggest crocodile I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was 43 years old and showed its age by being ginormous.  It was positively thrilling, to be honest.  I kept waiting for it to break out, stage a coup, and turn the whole experience into a scene from Lake Placid (love that movie, Betty White is the bomb).  No joke, that beast had to be at least 15 feet from snout to tail.  I would not want to meet it in the wild.  In fact, I felt like the fence around its pen was a little too low to be totally safe.  And maybe if it wasn’t lazy it might have done exactly that and staged a break out.  It looked alarmingly jurassic.

After Pak and I were done oohing and aahing over the nightmarish crocodiles, we visited the biggest mosque in Medan then a small, unimpressive museum-type place called Maimoon Palace.  I was nearly blinded by the gold gilding on everything there so we didn’t stay long.  We had 1 more stop scheduled but the traffic was so bad by that time that we decided to forego it and head to the airport, which is about an hour away from the town by highway.  Pak got me to the airport on time and we amicably parted ways.  Of course, then started 24 hours of aggravation but you already heard about that.

My Lake Toba adventure was over.  I didn’t physically do much, but I certainly enjoyed all that I saw and learned over those 4 days.  I’m officially naming the Lake Toba region as the most beautiful that I have seen in Indonesia.

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Standing on Samosir, looking across to mainland Sumatra

I’m so glad I went.  I hope you enjoyed reliving the journey with me.

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