Spent two nights in Berastagi, where I spent my free day climbing a volcano known as Gungung Sibayak. The peak is around 2000m and you have to climb 700m to get there. As has been my luck with these things low cloud obscured the view from the top. It was still atmospheric, very much a volcano in shape with a pool of water in the crater and jets of steam coming out of yellow sulphur stained holes.
On the way down met up with Bob, a Liverpudlian expat who had just moved into a news house nearby. Over a cup of tea he recommended a place to stay on my next stop. That night had a drink with the few westerners in town including 3 girls who were Christian missionaries. I generally consider missionaries to be cultural vandals or even WMDs but out of character kept my views to myself.
After almost 7 hours I have arrived on the island of Pulau Samosir in the middle of Danau Toba lake. The lake has formed in the crater from an immense volcanic eruption 80,000 years ago and the island by a smaller eruption 30,000 years later. Not had much of a chance to explore but the scenery so far is stunning.
Tourism has obviously been badly affected in Indonesia by events of the past couple of years as most places are operating at a tenth of capacity. It leads to some stunning deals for me but I feel sorry for the locals.
My next problem is getting a ticket on a boat down the west coast of Sumatra. I already knew I had to catch the boat from a port with an exceptionally dodgy reputation, but it now appears I will have to buy my ticket in advance there as well. Despite the fact that Pelni is the national ferry company and has offices in every major town, for this boat I have to buy the ticket at the port of departure. It’s these little surprises that make travel in a developing country interesting…….
Sorry this is a bit brief but I’m on an internet connection 6 times more expensive than the one in Medan and around a sixth of the speed.