Lake Maninjau, Sumatra

Why you should not return from SE Asia without a visit to Sumatra?

It is an otherworldly place. The only place we went in South East Asia where English was not understood, foreigners and travellers from outside were few and far in between, people were genuine and hospitable and no matter how hard we tried, we could not explain what vegetarianism meant. People smoked all the time, everywhere: inside the air conditioned buses, in public areas and offices,  but yet they smiled so politely piercing your soul and warming your heart, that you don’t mind the smoke, the discomfort of the tight vans and minibuses, the crazy drunk drivers who are popping in tablets to keep themselves high. The torrential rains and heavy winds made you feel as though they would blow the roof of your head and sooner than later the water would come gushing in your hut which they fondly call bungalows following the command equatorial climes but minutes later the sun would shine just as bright as the smiles of the people and dry your back like there was never a drop on it anyways. We could relax all day by the lake with no pressure of things to do and activities to be accomplished. Sumatra is one of those places where you just are rather than trying to be. It is for us the ultimate place to relax, a highly recommended “cool spot” by our definition. For more information on Sumatra and what not to miss on the island…Read here

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5 Things you must do in Lake Toba

We love Sumatra and in Sumatra, we love Lake Toba so much so that we ended up spending about 60% of the month we had in Indonesia in Lake Toba which also meant we could not move to other parts of Indonesia besides Sumatra. Now you must think, since we were in Lake Toba for 17 days, we must have seen all that was there to be seen, done all that was there to be done many times over. But our laziness was at its peak in Lake Toba, we managed to tick a few things of our list. We present to you the 5 things we really enjoyed in Lake Toba. Almost all the accommodation in Lake Toba is in Tuk-Tuk village in Samosir Island and there is only one connection to the mainland, and if you are here in the off-season you are likely to know most tourists. We bumped in most of them at the many sites that are scattered in various parts of the island. Lake Toba is the largest lake in Indonesia and the world’s largest volcanic lake and Sumatra is home to Bataks, the natives of Indonesia. The setting is very pretty, people are nice (this applies to all places in Sumatra, all of them love Indians and they are big fans of SRK) food will please your taste buds if you don’t experiment too much, and you can walk for weeks and are likely to find some hidden corner to sit and admire the view. Here are the top 5 things we enjoyed in Lake Toba. Walks around the Island – It takes about an hour to walk its circumference of the island. You can sit any guest towards the lakeside, and enjoy a nice cup of tea, coffee (both with condensed milk) …

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How We Stayed for under 22$ a Day on a quiet Island in Sumatra

We stayed on the beautiful island of Samosir surrounded the mystical Lake Toba in Sumatra at an expense of around $22 per day. Rate 1 USD = 10,800 IDR Rate 1 USD = 60 INR Expense Item Per Day (USD) Total Stay 17 Days (USD) Per Day (INR) Total Stay 17 Days(INR) Breakfast 4.17 70.8 250 4250 Lunch 2.22 37.8 133 2267 Dinner 2.22 37.8 133 2267 Special Dinners / Eating Out 2.31 39.4 139 2361 Juices / Drinks Etc 2.31 39.4 139 2361 Accomodation 6.48 110.2 389 6611 Water 0.83 14.2 50 850 Laundry / Miscellaneous 0.93 15.7 56 944 Total $21.48 $365.2 1289 21911 We know its not easy to keep a track of your expenses especially while traveling but we did it. And we have renewed our love for PIE CHARTS. Where we spent our cash: 1. Accomodation: Rooms are cheap at Lake Toba. We got a beautiful, spacious room with a huge bathroom at 70,000 IDR. 2. Food: Breakfast 45,000 IDR Lunch and Dinner would usually be one dish each about each costing 12,000 IDR so average IDR 24,000 We kept our health in check and had a glass or two of juice each day about 8000 – 10,000 IDR. One 4 nights we ordered Vegetable Pizza’s and always ended up getting a 2nd one. Each costing about 30,000IDR. 3. Eat outs: We ate out only once at a place called Junia which was way expensive than Liberta Homestay and one meal cost us about 100,000 IDR at our friend’s recommendation. He later agreed that the food at the guest house we were staying at was not just the best value for money but most appealing to taste buds as well. 4. Sightseeing: All the sight seeing we did was on foot, but we paid entry …

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Mr Moon’s Traveler’s Heaven – Lake Toba – Indonesia

How many days can you stay back for this view? When we started this trip we intended to go to quiet places, find a comfortable place to stay with open spaces, preferably close to a water body where we could relax, read, talk, write, walk and introspect all day. And when we look back there is one place more than any other that could be the stress free abode that matched all the necessary criteria where we stayed on amazingly low budget with amazing hospitality and courtesy extended by the owner. Even at the end of seventeen nights we were not willing to leave and had to drag ourselves out because our visa was about to expire. That place was what we like to call is Mr. Moon’s traveler’s heaven – Liberta Homestay. Mr Moon is a kind gentleman who was once a farmer before he moved to Samosir Island in Lake Toba in Sumatra to run this place that was set up by his brother and his wife. His brother and sister-in-law decided to go back to Germany while Mr Moon willingly took over Liberta homestay that he now happily manages with the help of dedicated staff and family members. This the first and only place rooms in all of our travel that offered rooms at fixed prices only – no negotiations or testing the waters with each traveler. The prices are written on the reception and are so reasonable you wouldn’t want to bargain. And even during our stay there was never any overcharging or issues that were not readily dealt with. Mr Moon’s Batak houses are split level accommodations with bathroom and sitting space at the bottom and you climb a cute little staircase to sleep at the top. They are neat, spacious, charming, well built and …

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ugly jetty, pulau weh, indonesia

The Ugly Jetty

Ishwinder can’t swim. No she cannot. But that hasn’t kept her from jumping into water bodies if I am already in there to hold her hand and with a life jacket she knows no bounds. We had been on a snorkelling trip once before in Malaysia and thought we could certainly manage a close to the edge of the sea snorkelling here in Pulao Weh.  Did I tell you yet that the clear waters of Pulau Weh are considered one of the best places in the world to go Snorkelling? We could see fish swimming in the water right from our balcony which was located over the sea. Well, more about that later. But know for sure that it was a beautiful day. The sea was turquoise blue. There was no wind blowing which was a good thing because leave alone winds even mild breezes make the sea in Pulau Weh turbulent. And turbulent sea is fine for me but just that poor Ishwinder hadn’t slept for two nights. For someone who could sleep on a bumpy bus, to a rocky flight or even in wedding parties, not being able to sleep for two nights was something I secretly found very funny. Somehow, the waves hitting on the wooden foundations of our hut hanging off a rocky cliff didn’t feel very safe to her. She would spend the night researching our next trip and sleep only a couple of hours in the morning when she was sure that I was awake and in case there was a tsunami I would alert her. What I will be able to do in that situation was not her concern. Why are we talking about tsunami here? Because this region, this middle of nowhere was one of the worst hit areas of Tsunami in …

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Into the Friendly Wild, Sumatra

Put it next to the much famed Kohs of Thailand or the very chic, Bali, Sumatra will seem a humble tourist destination. And it doesn’t take long to figure that after you have landed here. You might be the only tourist queuing up for visa and wonder if you should have really come here. Even though accommodation and food is cheap, there are no hoards of backpackers passing months along in cheap hostels. Even the luxury travelers seeking lake cruises with sunset dinners don’t get here. There are no souvenir thrusting rows of shopkeepers (although plenty of artifacts to be bought at cheap prices because, you see, Bataks are excellent carpenters).  Nor are there any expensive restaurants to fine dine in and spend your cash. Sumatra, I must declare at the onset, is not for bling seeking, chic tourist with a cash load to splurge.  It is for the one seeking slow pace and the charm of the offbeat. It is for the traveler who can work a little harder than usual and accommodate in rooms that have bathrooms no wash basin. Home to millions of hectares of tropical rain forest, tribes that were cannibalistic until about 200 years ago, culture that worships breast and lizard, orang-utans who they say are the people of the jungle, the largest flower and the biggest snake in the world, Sumatra is the superlative island of superlatives. For the two weeks in one month we spent on Sumtra, we were held captive on the Samosir. The unassuming hospitality of our hosts didn’t help us escape either. Samosir is an island set on the caldera lake called Danau Toba formed thousands of years ago after a big boom happened that changed the face of the Earth. If you thought, Pyramids , Taj Mahal , Colosseum …

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