Friday, July 23, 2010

Lake Toba Day 2

During breakfast, I met Xavier and Vanessa , a French couple I befriended on my trip here. After receiving a few tips from this well traveled duo, we decided to come up with this strategy - I would explore the North road today and then take the South route tomorrow since it'll be a Saturday and they'd be more tourist attractions open with the markets.

I jumped on the rented motorbike and after slapping on a generous amount of sunblock & donning my aviators, I was ready to explore a place I've not researched thoroughly.
(I don't normally go anywhere without proper planing. Gulp!)
*Sign of the cross*

Once I got used to the bike, I rode on and the first thing that crossed my mind was the fact that there are many churches that just seem to occupy every piece of empty land(and there were plenty) on this small village.
Most of the Bataks are Protestants, but there are a spatter out there who are Catholic.
I found 'my' church on this stretch heading North.

Found an unassuming road heading up. Curious, I powered on the throttle and climbed my way up. Found the view breathtaking. Saw a few more graves (I am fascinated with graves and funerals) and interviewed some local kids about this.

On the journey up, I came across (another) rundown church. But it was the house beside this church that made me curious.Reminded me of my village in Tambunan. I remember when Aki and Odu used to make us 'tumbuk padi' in a hut downhill from where my grandparents were staying and it looked exactly like this hut.

And there was corn husks everywhere!
(Made me crave for steamed jagung sold at the Tg Aru beach, KK)

Interviewed this Batak lady and found out that the corn husks were left to dry under the sun, and then the corn was removed to make chicken/pig feed.
The little boy reminds me of my cousin Neil when he was a little boy.

Saw a hog with a wooden plank fixed (horribly) on its neck. I asked why. She said "supaya babi indak lari jauh". My guide told me it was also to fatten the poor pig for satisfactory servings later on. (That's why I don't like meat. Kesian. Sniff)

See the piggy?
I had a pet pig called Babe before.
Poor Porky.

Old school style of hanging clothes. By the fence.
Just like how they do it in many kampungs
(and some low cost flats in KL!)

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year 2010 everybody!

I like buffaloes. Tried riding one as a kid when I was fooling around with my cousins during Pesta Menuai.

More buffies!
Smelly but cute!

A traditional Batak home.

Interviewed these village kids playing with the wheelbarrow and pups inside.
They told me that the coffin were inside the 'home graves' and not buried underground like what I thought it was initially.
Explained further later on.

Pumping in gas - and made a quick food detour
( I saw the indomie sign at this kedai runcit and politely asked if they could cook some for me)

Then the glutton in me asked the makcik if they had any corn around (mengidam).
She did!

Posing for the camera with my jagung aunty.
I helped her in the kitchen to clean up.

Continued eating and then her son(?) Albinus, offered to show me his grandmother's Batak house.
(I took a video of him explaining the architecture of the Batak house but I couldn't understand half of what he was trying to say. I told him to speak in Indonesian Malay, but he insisted talking in English. I didn't know whether to be amused or annoyed - suffice to say, I am unable to post his ramblings here now)

The kids around the village curious with my aviators and camera(s)

From Albinus's (impromtu tour guide) explanation, he said most Batak homes have 3 dominant colours - Red, Black and White. Red for blood (LIFE), Black to symbolize DEATH and White to symbolize HEAVEN.

The reason why the Batak entrance is built the way it is, is to ensure those coming inside must 'bow' (come in with head first) to symbolize your respect for the occupants of the house.

I will post a picture of me trying to climb a tree near this house. I need to edit it first cause it shows unflattering angles of my phatass.

This building reminds me of a beehive.
It has Yunani influences in its architecture. I think it's another church.

That's a grave or tugu behind me.

Excerpt below taken from wikipedia

Batak burial traditions are very rich and complex. Immediately after death various ritual actions are performed to make the begu understand that from now on its world is separate from that of its kin. Symbolically this is done by reversing the mat on which the corpse is laid out so that the body lies with its head at the foot of the mat. Thumbs and toes respectively are tied together and the body is rubbed all over with camphor and its orifices stopped with camphor, then it is wrapped in a white cotton cloth. During this perumah begu ceremony a guru sibaso declares to the begu of the deceased that it is definitely dead and must take leave of its relatives.

Wealthier families have their coffins (Karo: pelangkah) made of the wood of the kemiri tree (Ateurites rnoluccana), carved in the shape of a boat, its bow decorated with the carved head of a hornbill, or a horse, or a mythical beast known as a singa. The lid is then sealed with resin and the coffin may be placed in a special location near the family's house until a reburial ceremony can take place . Families that are not wealthy use simple wooden coffins or wrap the body in a straw mat.

The corpse is carried a few times round the house, usually by women, and then to the cemetery gondang orchestra and the continual firing of guns. At any crossroads the corpse is put down and eleven people go around it four times to confuse the begu. It is hoped that the begu will then be unable to find its way back to the village. When the funeral procession arrives at the cemetery the grave is dug and the corpse laid in it, flat on its back. Care is taken that the head lies towards the village so that, in the unexpected event that the body should get up, he or she will not be looking in the direction of the village. The bodies of datuk and those who have died from lightning are buried sitting up with their hands tied together. The palms of the hand are tied together and betel placed between them[42].

The burial tradition includes a reburial ceremony in which the bones of one's ancestors are reinterred several years after death. This secondary burial is known among the Toba Batak as mangongkal holi, among the Karo as nurun-nurun. In a ceremony lasting several days the bones of a particularly honored ancestor and those of his descendants are exhumed, cleaned, mourned and finally laid to rest again in a bone house known as a tugu or tambak:

"On the morning of the first day of the festival the graves in the cemetery are opened and the bones of the ancestors that are still there are removed. The unearthing of the skulls is presented as especially moving. The bones are collected in baskets lined with white cloth and then ritually cleaned by the women using the juice of various citrus fruits. The exhumation and cleaning of the bones is accompanied by the singing of laments. The bones are kept in the baskets in the tugu until the next morning, when the remains are wrapped in traditional cloths (ulos) and transferred from the baskets to small wooden coffins. After long speeches and a communal prayer the coffins are nailed down and placed in the chambers of the tugu. A feast consisting of meat and rice follows and traditional dances are performed[43]."

Mass on Friday evening?

Found out later from this chap that churches are often used as Balairaya or community halls for the villagers to congregate. Today was Sports Day!

That's my red kapchai on the far left.

Had a few more hours left till I had to return the bike, so took a quick stroll down south to Tuk-Tuk, which is what some tourists would equate it to Kuta, Bali? I think it's more like Legian meets Koh Sa Mui? Anyway, saw this resort/restaurant and needed to send an important email over to a client, so went in to use the internet services.

Managed to take a few pictures. Might stay here next trip with the kids

I miss my late Odu when I see this picture

This picture does not do 100% justice to the feeling I felt being here at Lake Toba. I really wish the best for everyone - just leave it be. Oh well. Some handle emotions better than others.

A Batak Totem

I like this picture. Thanks JL

After the solid 8 hours on the bike, my bum was sore. Badly needed a massage.

Did you know I fell into a pond of waterlilies in England once?
The water was icy cold and I hadn't learn how to swim yet but I wasn't afraid, which is odd - cause I fear drowning to death.
I think it has something to do with the lilies.
Ever since then, I've been fascinated with this flower.
After daffodils.

Will post Day 3 soon


  1. so beautiful panorama ;)visit its about batak land (y)