Category Archives: 07_Indonesia 2012

Sumatra …

… Danau Toba – Reunion with Nick and Kanchan

Danau Toba was just the right place to hang and drive around – we loved it!!! Finally Nick and Kanchan arrived as well from Malaysia and we could explore the landscapes partially together. But… of course we had to continue one day and we were heading direction Berastagi…

… Getting wet and riding a hard treck: Berastagi, Bukit Lawang, Medan, Taratung, Lake Maninjau

We chose the way along Lake Toba with incredible views and some strange “creatures” along the way, like a giant metal fish in the middle of the jungle which was supposed to be restaurant ones upon the time… When we arrived in Berastagi we were welcomed by a school class in the middle of the town and had to take several pictures with all of them. Close by there was a little volcano which we explored. We spend the night in a nice little guesthouse up the hill and planned for the next day to go to Bukit Lawang. We asked several people if the road over the mountains still exists, we got several different answers and we just decided to give it a go.

So we left the next morning quite early. We were passing a little volcano lake and driving up nice narrow roads. The road led to the jungle up the mountain and we reached 1850m above sea level with stunning views. Now the downhill part started and the road turned to rough gravel with big loose stones and muddy clay ground steep down… at one point already sweaty and Kerstin was already walking partially we were stopping, watching the “road” and thinking of going back. It was so steep and clear if we go down here there is no return.  Suddenly we were over passed by a guy on his little scooter hopping down the big steps and stones! OK! Let us try it! The next three hours we were sweating and cursing and Kerstin was mostly walking down – HOLY SHIT! Additional a monsoon rain rushed in… this was too much. The bike felt down, up again… nothing we could do except continuing. Finally we reached a village in the middle of the jungle and we took cover under a wooden roof while the road became a river. It did not look at all like it would stop raining so we continued – exhausted, completely wet and meanwhile freezing. After a while the road became partially a road again and the rain stopped. We were looking forward and hoped to reach Bukit Lawang before dawn. So we did!!! We found a place to stay and went for dinner and to sleep… It was not the nicest place to stay, it was hot and muggy and the sleep was not good at all. At 5 am Sascha jumped out of the bed, shouting on somebody and cursing like hell. Somebody was trying to grab into our window. What a night (mare)!!!

When we went up we were sleep-deprived and felt every bone and muscle. We had a swim in the river and at noon we got the message that out new screen for our GPS arrived in Medan – a real good message! We left immediately and met our friend Awi. Thanks to him we did not have to go to the center, we met him outside. We did not have much time unfortunately and we left Medan with a heavy rain. The rain went with us until we reached Berastagi – soaked to the skin we met Nick and Kanchan for Dinner and were fixing our GPS afterwards. HURRAY it is working again!!!

Together we left the next day passing Lake Toba and reaching Taratung via the mountains. Driving within Indonesia is definitely more time consuming than elsewhere! The landscapes are beautiful but the streets are bad. So we did only around 180km the next day – sometimes the average is 30km per hour   ;-(  And it is not easy to find places to stay where there is no tourism. Yesterday we reached Lake Maninjau, a volcanic lake, next to Bukettinggi and we were all looking forward to have at least one day break to recover (our bones and muscles are still hurting), hanging around with the monkeys and catch up for you guys! It is a peaceful relaxed place and we are enjoying it a lot!!!

Goodbye Malaysia – Hello Indonesia Part II

Arrival in Tanjung Balai; Getting lost on the way; Beautiful Lake Toba in Northern Sumatra

Early morning we left Malacca heading direction Port Klang. When we arrived Martin with his Honda CB400 was already at the meeting point and shortly after us Nick and Kanchan arrived on their BMW GS 1200 Adv and as well our agent showed up. Still we all were not sure if the ferry will go and if everything will work out… and we were all really nervous ;-)

Having some breakfast we were discussing the upcoming procedure and the papers which we would need. Nick and Kanchan did not have the Visa yet so unfortunately they had to stay in KL. Now only Martin and we were left… and we drove to the port. Sascha and Martin left with our agent to get the paper at the customs done while Kerstin was waiting with the bikes… chatting with all the people passing by… Finally it was time to pass the customs with the bike – no problem at all! We parked the bike in front of the ferry and were taking of the gears. And faster as we could look the ferry guys lifted the bike down the stairs and onto the boat! The ferry trip took 5 hours. The people were incredible friendly and we had to take pictures with everybody. As soon as we could see the land coming we went on the deck, chatting with the captain and what we could see was already very different to Malaysia and we were soooo exited!

The landing was as easy and quick as the loading – thanks to all the helping hands on the Indonesian side as well – and a few minutes later we were standing in front of the customs. Again Sascha and Martin were busy with the papers and Kerstin outside with the bikes and the luggage surrounded by half of the village. Not much later the custom procedure was easily done with friendly smiling people. We put the gears on and left in the dawn. Now we had to find an ATM, a gas station and a place for the night. Driving through the darkness direction center through a mad traffic on a dirt road we stopped at the gas station when a woman was asking us what we are doing here and if we would need help. She introduced herself to us and told that she is working for the government in Sumatra. Afterwards she was leading us to a hotel where we could park our bikes safely and spend the night. As well she offered us to come back the next morning and accompany us to the police station to get our police letter written and stamped. How great is that!

So happy we were!!! We left to a shop to get our well rewarded beer! Inside the shop we accidently met a guy from the police who immediately offered his help to us… HELLO INDONESIA WITH ALL YOUR FRIENDLY AND WELCOMING PEOPLE!!! Tired but very happy we were enjoying our beer back at the hotel when a hard rain came down…

The next morning we got up early to check the bikes before we would go to the police. Ida came like promised with her friend and all together we went to the police station. It took a little while to explain what we need but thanks to Ida they understand what we asked for. We were waiting and chatting to all the police guys and at noon we got our letter– hurray!

Now it was time to hit the road! As the first destination we chose was Parapat-Lake Toba in the north together with Martin. Unfortunately our GPS was broken and we were tired a bit. Actually we were not taking attention enough and we went the wrong way, south… what we noticed after 150km in 4 hours! The traffic here is crazy, mad, horrible,… overloaded trucks, minibuses, pickups, betschas (tuktuks), bikes… and all driving like there is no tomorrow!

Nevertheless we all still wanted to go to Danau Toba which is a 1707-sq-km, 450m-deep lake 900 m above sea level and set in the collapsed caldera of an extinct volcano. The gasoline is really cheap and we just lost a bit of time… and now we chose a different road over the mountains instead of taking the ferry from Parapat. The next morning we left early and very soon the street became more narrow, the traffic less and as closer we came to the mountains the landscapes and villages became more and more beautiful. Now we were all enjoying riding the bikes most of the time above 1400 meter above the sea. Absolutely breathtaking it became when we were driving down from Tele direction Pulau Samosir, the volcanic isle which is connected to the mainland on this side by a narrow isthmus. It was clear: this place is worth to drive to even though we had to make a few km extra ;-)

In Tuk Tuk we found a real lovely place at the lake side to stay in one of the traditional wooden houses. There is a little tourism around but the whole region has seen busier times – before the Tsunami in 2004 it was a major holiday destination but these times are gone now. The people are warmly welcoming you and you feel more or less adopted. The next day we met a Kiwi who organized a pig on a barbecue at his friends place, a local guy and they invited us to join in their home place. We had a great evening, laughing, dancing, singing, eating and drinking all together. We found a place to relax, meeting people, to catch up our updates and paperwork, to explore the surroundings… and we will stay a couple of days… Anyhow we ordered a spare part for our GPS to be delivered to friend of us in Medan. It will take a few days to arrive…

What we have seen and experienced so far here in Indonesia within this few days is just great and lovely and we are very excited already to explore more!!!