Medan, Lake Toba & Berastagi(Photos Only)

Read the itinerary here.

Medan, Lake Toba & Berastagi

I was not too sure if I should blog about my Medan trip(in fact Medan, Lake Toba and Berastagi) since most of my photos were gone in the recent hard disk crash. :( But then, I remembered that there was very little information in the web when I was doing the research. So here is my travelogue with very little photos(perhaps I will just share the photos in a another post).

The destinations
We flew into Medan, Sumatera Utara, Indonesia. Parapat(ferry terminal to Samosir Island, Lake Toba) was 4-5 hours road trip from Medan. We took another path back to Medan and overnight at Berastagi.
A - Medan
B - Parapat
C - Berastagi

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Getting Around
If you are a budget or solo traveller, you can take public bus to Parapat, catch a ferry to Samosir island and rent a motorbike there. Alternatively, you can take a taxi(Taxi Raja is the recommendation) to Parapat which save some travelling time. You may also check with your hotel as most hotels in Samosir island provide pick-up from Medan at a fixed price. As for us, we rented a car with driver for the whole trip. It was a little bit pricey, but we did not have to worry about transportation throughout the whole trip. We had more freedom to move around. The car rental company we used was Ambarita Car Rental(view website), prompt email replies from them, great patience shown even after 20 emails, car was in good condition. Everything was perfect except the long road trip to Samosir island which I will explain later.

We stayed in Tabo Cottages, Samosir island(view website) for two nights and Sinabung Resort, Berastagi(view website) for one nights. Tabo Cottages was one of the best accomodation in Samosir island(another option is Samosir Villa Resort, view website). For Sinabung Resort, make sure you get a room facing the swimming pool. The view from the balcony was spectacular.  We managed to watch magnificent sunrise from our room.

1 Jan 2011
- Arrived Medan International Airport at 9.40am
- Had brunch at Bak Mie Kek(Hakka Mee) @ No. 5, Jln Selat Panjang
- Departed to Samosir Island.
It was New Year and the driver said that he received news from other drivers that the traffic was terrible on the way to Parapat. He suggested another route to us which he estimated will arrive by 6pm. We accepted the suggestion, thinking that we would be in time for New Year's dinner which I had booked with Tabo Cottages. However, the road condition was very bad that it took longer than what the driver had expected. we did stop half an hour for lunch. To cut the long story short, we arrived Tabo Cottages at 11.30pm. It was a 12 hours road trip! Unbelievable! I have a suggestion to avoid this, read on.
- Checked in Tabo Cottages and skipped dinner as we were too tired

2 Jan 2011
- Had simple buffet breakfast provided by Tabo Cottages
- Had a tour round Samosir island, visited Ambarita(Batak Village) Stone Chair, Simanido Museum and Pengurunan Hot Spring
- Had lunch at Saulina Resort, good view and good food. Recommended Nasi Special Goreng.
- Went back to Tabo Cottages
- Had scrumptious dinner, dishes which we were supposed to take on New Year's night. We ordered their specialities, batak sytle grilled fish, oven baked chicken and grilled chicken(view menu). Annette was a great cook, everything was delicious and we finished all of them.
- Enjoyed a cuppa of coffee in the peaceful environment
- We asked Annette about massage and she arranged it in her wellness room. All the stress and aches due to the long road trip was melted, and I was fully recharged. :)

3 Jan 2011
- Same buffet breakfast in Tabo Cottages
- Took passenger ferry to Parapat. There were two types of ferry in Lake Toba, the car ferry and the passenger ferry. If we were in the car ferry, we only have to pay for vehicle ticket, passengers are free. But due to the car ferry's long queue on 1st Jan, Annette sent our driver to the car ferry terminal early in the morning. We took our sweet time enjoying the breakfast, then we took the 9am passenger ferry at Tabo Cottages and meet our driver at Parapat. So we could actually avoid the 12 hours journey by taking the passenger ferry and let the driver handle the issue. Even if he missed the last ferry, he could have overnight at Parapat and take the first ferry the next morning. Talk to your rented car company or driver on this and do not repeat my mistake.
- Departed to Berastagi, visited 12wives and Sipiso-piso waterfall on the way.
- Checked in Sinabung Resort at 4.30pm
- Had dinner at Sinabung Resort. We had the whole restaurant to ourselves! So we had a great family time! The food was not bad too.

4 Jan 2011
- Complimentary breakfast in Sinabung Resort
- Departed to Medan
- Reached Medan by 11+am
- Visited Mecahat(view website). Was greeted by the young lady owner, Verayani Jioe. She showed us the whole coffee process, from the green bean collected by the farmer to a cup of coffee. We even visited her civet cats which produce the world famous civet coffee. Lunch was also at Mecahat to savour her roast duck. She was very proud of her product, she has her very own duck farm, custom-made roasting machine and secret-recipe used for marinating the duck. Rice and some Theow Cheow dishes were provided by the shop next door. We enjoyed the duck, and yes, she has the right to be proud and confident.
- With the recommendation from Verayani's brother, we went to Bolu Gulung Meranti(view website) and Ratna(@Jl. Mojopahit No. 11 D). We bought Bolu Gulung of different flavours from Meranti. Lapis legit and bika ambon were from Ratna.
- We spent few hours in Sun Plaza before going to airport.
- Return flight was 6.25pm. Remember to keep IDR75K/person for airport tax.

Expenses for 6 person(in IDR)
Tabo Cottages(1 night @Batak Villa, 1 night @twin sharing deluxe room)   -   1.395.000
Sinabung Resort(1 night@ twin sharing deluxe room)   -   1.500.000
Car Rental(Toyota Innova with driver for 4 days, include driver's meal & accomodation)   -   1.900.000
Fuel  - ~1.400.000
Meal  - ~1.000.000
Entrance - 192.000
Returning ferry - 142.000

Expenses are just for reference.