Friday, 29 April 2011

BERASTAGI or bust!!!!

Ok, so we left Samosir Island on the morning vehicle ferry. Enjoyed watching the passenger ferries load and depart while the car ferry was filling up. It's lovely to lean over the rail and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Lake Toba as the ferry glides across to Parapat
Of course there's a market at the ferry departure point.

Hmm, was that an ice cream or an egg?

Tonight's dinner?

Can't fit another thing on, cya!

Left behind

Farewell Samosir

From here we drove along a beautiful scenic route towards Sipi Sipso waterfall. The road hugs the edge of the lake as it winds along with mostly coffee plantations growing either side. Bob says that Sumatran coffee is the best, I think Rod agrees!

The view across Lake Toba to Samosir

Sumatran coffee

Along the way Bob points out a giant goldfish which was possibly once a hotel?? Looks rather incongruous - I read later that the legend of Lake Toba tells of a beautiful woman disguised as a goldfish who marries a farmer............ I'll leave you to find out the rest of the story!
We make a stop at a restaurant said to have the best Bandrek around - I think they have a case!!! And yes, I'd say that the pisang goreng (fried bananas) are some of the best I've ever tasted :-).
From here it was on to Sipiso-piso waterfall. Now I don't have the details of height etc, suffice to say it's quite narrow and very high. The bonus is that you also have a great view of Lake Toba from here too.

So, this is Sipiso-piso waterfall

Looking down to Lake Toba from Sipiso-piso

Long way down

Sipi Sipso in all its glory

We made it back to the car before the rain started.
Berastagi and surrounds are famous for its agriculture and you know you are getting closer to Berastagi when you see fields of cabbages, tomatoes, citrus etc. I just loved the way the carrots are packed for export (which I think means export to other Indonesian islands?). They are all wrapped neatly in a circular pattern of orange and green.
As you come to the outskirts of Berastagi, the road surface deteriorates, which was made more obvious with cars and trucks splashing through the muddy water covering the road from the rain.

Not a great shot but you get what I mean

Splish, spash!!

Whenever I see cabbages I will be reminded of Berastagi!! They seem to be everywhere, growing, stacked for transport, being transported and even the shelters on the roundabouts in the town are shaped like cabbages!!

See cabbage-topped shelter at the roundabout!!!

We ate at a Padang restaurant and found this to be not really our thing. You never know unless you give it a try!!

Bob explaining what's what.

Padang restaurant, Garuda rumah makan

In between rain showers we walked through the market selling everything from clothing to food to clothing alterations.

Chillies - most important ingredient in Sumatran cuisine

Did I say tomatoes are plentiful?

Anyone for eel?

Need your hem taken up? They teach them young!

Our hotel was the Grand Mutiara. A big clean place, a little way out of the main town, on a large expanse of land.
Added bonus, separate walk-in shower

Our room at the Grand Mutiara

Just loved this sign at the hotel - gee had to leave my gun behind, and my rollerblades :-(

We had decided not to do the volcano climb, although this is available for the more adventurous. Instead we went to Lake Kawar beneath Mt Sinabung. Nice to sit and watch the locals enjoying a leisurely Sunday by the lake.

Mt Sinabung, covered in cloud

From another viewpoint

The army were keeping an eye on us! 

Please share........

What a sweetie

The boys 'paddling their own canoe'

On manoeuvres 

From here we went to the fruit and flower markets back in Berastagi. This market is filled with colour, from the horse and carts waiting to give people rides, to the flowers, bulbs, fruit, rabbits, puppies etc. One of my favourite fruits was in season, so we bought a bag of mangosteens. If you haven't had them before, give them a try if you see them, they are delicious, with a juicy tender white flesh hidden inside a thick purple skin.

Surprised to see hydrangeas 

Lots of bulbs

What are these, some kind of eggplant??

Even broccoli and cauliflower!!!

My favourite fruit - mangosteen

How cute are they?

Salak - snake fruit

Look at those carrots!!

Rod the celebrity

Cute little rabbits

Looking serious in his Sunday best

Amazing little boats fuelled with lighter fluid. I wish I'd bought one.

Beautifully groomed pony

Anyone for a ride?

Old lady in her Sunday best

We then went to hill above the town where you can look out to the volcanoes and beyond. Being a Sunday, it seemed that half of the population of Berastagi were here. Enjoyed seeing how the local people spend their leisure time. While I was busy taking photos, my husband soon became the centre of attention, with people almost lining up to have their photo taken with him. I think we must have been the only westerners there that day!
I think this is Mt Sibayek

If you can't beat 'em, take some pics of yourselves too

One of the many stalls selling snacks

Heading back to the car

The little road lined with cars from the Sunday visitors

After a stop for lunch at a little restaurant just near the Grand Mutiara - which had delicious food and was good value (I think a lot of the hotel staff eat here) - it was off to the hot springs.

Old lady framed in avocado juice

Cabbages - to market, to market

The brighter and the more horns the better it is....

Pack 'em in

 Once again being Sunday the hot springs were packed. Bob was worried that we may once again be the centre of attention, so he suggested we get a private cubicle. I think he was right - had it not been so crowded, I wouldn't have minded being the only 'orang putih's' but I was glad to hide within our own cubicle ;-). Now when they say hot springs, they mean it!!!! It was really hot! Hubby thought it was a little too hot but once I got used to it I found it quite theraputic.

At the hot springs

Hot stuff!!!

It was back into town for dinner but first Bob took us to have a look at a couple of Batak homes that had been lived in for at least 150 years. One is now derelict and possibly beyond saving but the other is still lived in and the family allowed us to have a look around. I felt privileged as I know I wouldn't allow strangers into my home like that.

This vehicle has sure seen better days

Near collapse, but it makes a great washing line

Plenty of room inside for a few families

Hopefully, it's not beyond saving

The main road is lined with food stalls of an evening. Of course we had to have martabak, savoury and sweet.

Being serenaded at dinner

Shellfish anyone?

Mmm, martabak

What better place to wash the dishes than in the gutter

The next morning we went for a wander around the grounds of the hotel before we left. We were so lucky to see that the cloud had lifted from Mt Sinabung and we had a full view of the magnificence of the volcano, complete with smoke/steam rising from the sulphur. Hard to believe that not all that long ago the volcano had been quite threatening, belching smoke etc across the area.

Rod checking out the grounds of Grand Mutiara

It's quite a big hotel

And it's a lovely clear morning and we get a great view of  Mt Sinabung in all its smoking glory
As you can see, Berastagi is worth a stop if you are in this part of Sumatra. Being part of the Karo Highlands, it is quite different to the other areas we visited.

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