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Danau Toba

December 20th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 10-Indonesia - (0 Comments)

There is no denying the beauty of Danau Toba, known to backpackers as Lake Toba.  A 1707 sq km, 450m deep lake, set in a collapsed caldera of an extinct volcano, is surrounded by mountains ribboned with waterfalls and terraced rice fields.

The perfect place to chill-out for a few days among the fun loving Batak people, a way of life and culture we both hold in high regard.  We have not come across many places where we felt we could live, but Danau Toba certainly ticks all the boxes.

We stayed in Tuk Tuk, a backpacker haven, which was simply beautiful and very relaxing.  We caught up on some much needed reading, swam in the lake, rode round the many villages, visited the hot springs (which were shite) and ate in some beautiful restaurants – what more could one ask for.

We hope the photos give you an indication as to how chilled out this place is.  It has to be, almost all of the locals we met seemed to smoke weed all day long, very amusing.  If weed wasn’t your thing then almost every shop advertised ‘the best magic mushrooms in town’, with a few spelling and grammatical variations – hilarious.

Our batteries are now fully re-charged and ready for the big smoke Jakarta. As usual there are far too many photos to pick from so you can check out the rest on the picture tab, no. 45.

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Jungle party

December 19th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 10-Indonesia - (1 Comments)

Following our camping trip we had a wee ‘jungle party’ with entertainment provided by our guide Ali G – an evening loaded with beer and local herb.

Ali knew every song known to man and played to his hearts content. Zoe played her hand made digery doo – a diving instructor with the lungs of an elephant, so playing all night wasn’t a problem.  I had a go on the drums and the digery doo and failed miserably at both!

As you can imagine it was a very late night and there were plenty of clouded heads the following morning, just what was needed for our 14 hour journey to Lake Toba.

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Trekking and camping

December 18th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 10-Indonesia - (3 Comments)

The two day one night trekking and camping expedition within Gunung Leuser National Park was most certainly our best camping trip ever, even beating my Ray Meyers Survival weekend last year and that took some beating.

We met our group on the ferry from Malaysia to Indonesia and have been with them since and decided to trek together. From left to right: Keiran (UK), Catherine (US), Kate (UK), Sam (no fixed abode), Zoe (Canada) and our guide Ali G (Bukit Lawuang).

Within an hour we spotted our first orang-utan followed by a variety of other monkeys and animals. Ali G was fantastic, showing us edible and poisonous plants and foods and explaining the variety of ways in which the locals make a living from the jungle including the rubber plantations, palm oil, coco plants, honey and of course magic mushrooms and weed which was in abundance everywhere. 

It was amazing to see the food the porters knocked up on an open fire, we had sweet and sour chicken, vegetable curry with steamed rice and crackers.  For breakfast it was toasted club sandwiches and bucket loads of tea throughout the day.

The sleep was a little uncomfortable as we had only a sleeping liner and no bag. The noise of the jungle was just incredible but extremely loud.  In the morning we were greeted by a variety of monkeys who came to forage on our left over food – some really aggressive little feckers.

Catherine slipped on a wet rock and either sprained or broke a bone in her foot which meant the porters had to carry her back to base camp – 5 hours!  I fell over a zillion times and ended up spraining my wrist – I blame my slippy trainers. 

Overall, a great experience and enjoyed our group’s company very much.  We all plan to head to Danua Toba (Lake Toba) together in the next day or so.

Hope you enjoy the photos, as usual there are plenty more on the picture tab above no.44.

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Imagine yourself a little hairier and better with your toes and you’ve got Bukit Lawang’s main attraction: the orang-utan (Lonely Planet).

As we had to cut our Malaysian trip short and miss out on trekking in Borneo, we couldn’t miss out on a to visit  Gunung Leuser National Park in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, the only other place on the planet to see wild orang-utans.

Bukit Lawang is one of the most accessible places to spot this reclusive primate, thanks to an orang-utan conservation programme that has been operating on the eastern edge of the park since the 1970s. The national park is one of the orang-utan’s last remaining strongholds, with more than 5000 animals thought to be living in the wild.

We signed up for a two day one night excursion trekking and camping in the jungle. Camping aside, which was amazing in itself (next post), we seen thomas (if that’s right), macaques and plenty of orang-utans.  Wow wow wow.  It was amazing, truly amazing being so close to these primates, so beautiful.  Although some were a little aggressive most were very pleasant and inquisitive.

As you can imagine we were like the paparazzi on acid whenever one was in sight, so we have plenty of photos.

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Medan, Indonesia

December 16th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 10-Indonesia - (0 Comments)

A relatively long but enjoyable ferry crossing from Langkawi to Medan.  Medan is the capital of North Sumatra and is the third-largest city in Indonesia. You either love it or hate it and we definitely hated it: choked with traffic, pollution and poverty. It was a one night stopover while we booked our route to Bukit Lawang further north.

It was that exciting we didn’t bother taking out the camera.

Indonesia is far larger than we had ever imagined and we now know our 30–day visa will only allow us to see a mere fraction of our original itinerary.  We have somewhat revised it and plan to take a couple of internal flights in to reach our desired Christmas destination.