Staying at De Kock Hotel, Hunting the Gadang Clock Tower

Driver: “Donny, just get off here, okay? This car will turn to right, then car will run further away from downtown“.

Me: “Oh Okay, Uda. No problem for me

I was lowered by Annanta Travel on Veteran Street, I sat for a moment and stretched muscle stiffness after sitting in the back seat for eight hours. The white statue of Tuanku Imam Bonjol on his horse became the first sight which entertained my arrival in Bukittinggi. The “Paderi War” Leader spreaded charisma, valiantly without sound.

T-junction of Veteran Street, Pemuda Street (left) and Ahmad Yani Street (right).

After two days felt scalding heat in Pekanbaru, now I enjoyed Bukittinggi’s cool air. Now I was free to direct my camera to every where without sun sting. I had to occasionally stop because city contours which are up and down, making me gasped for breath with backpack’s burden on my back.

Entering Teuku Umar Street, which began to decline.

From a distance, I continued to look each other with a young blond girl who was sitting to enjoying the afternoon on big motorcycle. I predicted that she was precisely sitting in front of De Kock Hotel where I would stay in it.

It was true, arrived right at the big motorcycle was parked, I was confronted to hotel lobby in the form of a cafe, then young girl followed me and hurried to reception desk. It seemed like she was a hotel staff on duty that afternoon.

I would sleep on second floor of that simple dormitory.

Me: “Hi. Were you in Samosir four days ago?, I think that we stayed at a similar hotel, Bagus Bay Homestay”.

Noah: “Oh really? Yes, I was in Samosir four days ago”.

Me: “I’m Donny. I am an Indonesian traveler. What is your name?”.

Noah: “I’m Noah form California”.

Me: “Are you on vacation, No? What do you do in America?”.

Noah: “Yes, I’m on vacation. I am an engineer at oil company. What is your job in Indonesia? “.

Me: “Marketing”.

Noah: “What marketing?”.

Me: “I work in field, meet customers, and sell products”.

Noah: “Oh, you aren’t marketing. You are a sales. How about your income? Good income? I work with good income but with high risk in America … hahahaha”.

Me:” Yes, of course, I’m a salesman. I got a lot of money from my work”.

That was Noah, my new friend in Bukittinggi. Incidentally we were the only two who staying in the dormitory room with five single beds.


I sat in the lobby, a medium-sized bottle of Coca Cola managed to freeze my sweat after walking in a kilometer. That afternoon I intend to visit Gadang Clock Tower which is only half a kilometer to northwest of hotel.

Around 17:30 hours, I started to moving and carrying camera towards Gadang Clock Tower. I chose to walk through Yos Sudarso Street which tends to be flat and then descending on Istana Street.

Novotel’s old building.

Directly across from Novotel is Bukittinggi Plaza. I just quietly stood in mall courtyard to enjoy the beauty of Gadang Clock Tower. Sabai Nun Aluih Park, which was under the clock tower, was covered with a tight project’ iron sheeting. Apparently, There was park renovation.

96-years-old clock dedicated to secretary of Fort de Kock (old name of Bukittinggi).

As its name “Gadang” which in Minang language means “Large”, this clock tower is twenty-six meters in high with four 128-years-old twin clocks which was directly brought from Rotterdam via Bayur Port.

Operated by a Brixlion engine whose its twin is in Big Ben, London.

Was designed by Radjo Mangkuto, Gadang Clock Tower was made with 4 levels. The lowest level is the officer’s room, second level contains a clock’s ballast pendulum. Clock is placed on third level and the uppest level is tower top where clock’s bell are placed.

I was happy, being able to see Gadang Clock Tower which since I was a little boy, I only knew it through my elementary school textbook.

Black Taxi from Toba Lake to Pematang Siantar

I entered Eloise’s room to pick up my backpack which I had entrusted since morning. I checked out in the morning and continued to exploring Samosir all day with her. I said good-bye to her and prepared to go to Pematang Siantar, while she was still overnight at Samosir.

Bagus Bay Homestay staff directed me to wait for a ferry at the nearest port. Turn left after exiting the hotel, a few tens of meters later, I entered a alley at left side of road. Keep stepping until I reached a stall, right on port edge.

Tigaraja, Sir? Wait for half an hour, okay?“, Said a timer to me. Half an hour which was more than enough to ate a bowl of instant noodles with egg topping for USD 1.1 in stall corner.

Ferry looked approaching and the timer was silently pointing my face, then his index finger was pointing toward the ferry. I understand what that means.

Not even perfectly leaning yet, I jumped into the ferry. All passengers on the left deck shouted. “Watch out, Sir!” I waved like an artist. It turned out that my ability to maneuver with motorboats in Jatiluhur Dam when I became a fish farm salesman was still good.

Zoe’s Paradise Hotel (white) and Dumasari Hotel (red) stared at me when leaving Samosir.
Heading to Tigaraja port in 50 minutes.

The man in a faded blue jeans was intently staring in the distance when I descended the ferry. There isn’t other way to avoid it. I looked like waiting for a thug who was ready to hit me.

Siantar, Sir. Forty thousand Rupiah (USD 3)?“, He said while shadowing my steps. “Oh, taxi service“, I said. Chasing INTRA Bus which would leave at seven o’clock in the evening, I said yes. And I was taken to Bagus Taxi’s office.

Dying for a pee but didn’t getting a toilet, someone took a shower too long….Huftt.
Driver and passenger were hostile through a wooden pawns fight.

Looked like I was the last filler in taxi manifest. So fast, I’ve just sat on right side of middle row seat.

Right on my left, an old man who liked smoking during journey.

Black Avanza (one of Toyota type in Indonesia) swirled to measure street and picked up passengers one by one. pickup was ended with one incident when a woman missed her wallet in the fifth kilometer of our trip. It was annoying but can make me a little bit laugh. There wasn’t choice, the taxi turned back to get her wallet.

Leaving Toba Lake, the taxi speed forced me to open my eyes. It invited me to snaking and enjoying beautiful natural scenery of Simalungun Regency. Oil palm plantations, fields, hills and valleys were passed one by one. Occasionally the driver created humors, one of it when he frantically installing a seat belt which he didn’t wear in unison with a passenger next to him, even failedly installing it, until we passed the police operation area….Luckily, he didn’t stopped by police.

Within an hour and 20 minutes, taxi started to entering city edge, then headed to downtown via Gereja Street and Merdeka Street with two monuments as city landmarks.

Adipura Monument. Siantar has won this environmental award for four times.
Wahana Tata Nugraha Monument in President Soeharto era, an award for the excellent of transportation management.

Brother, once you get to Parluasan area, just go to the bus office, be careful“, said Erwin (my backpacker friend who accidentally met on KL HoHo Bus on 2013). Maybe he was worried about me when entering Parluasan area who was famous for its thugs. But I casually responded because I knew that I would be dropped right in front of the INTRA bus office.

I arrived…..

Let’s waited for brother Erwin to pick me up for getting around Pematang Siantar for a moment.t

Bagus Bay Homestay, Toba Lake

I jumped into homestay room through the window after a receptionist was unable to opened the door. I successfully entered into room and just by “one-clicked”, the door opened.

Choosing a hotel is about style. But for me, a dormitory is still as first priority. Keeping the budget for continuing a dream…. is traveling… #bigdreamer

After stayed in a same dormitory in Medan, I met Eloise again in Toba Lake. I showed my dance with Si Gale-Gale doll to her. She laughed when saw my dance as amateur. She told a lot about her trip to Toba Lake from Medan, He felt uncomfortable when seeing many men smoked on the bus while there were children in it.

Fatigue made me fell asleep until 8pm. Luckily, the homestay had hot water in the shared bathroom. Towards the lobby & restaurant, I enjoyed the night by seeing a live accoustic and drank a bottle of coca cola.

I looked at Eloise in the corner and talked to the staff while pointing at the map. I thought she was preparing for her trip tomorrow. I saw a long-haired American who always added his beer bottle. I never thought he would be my room mate at a dormitory in Bukittinggi 2 days later. In Bukittinggi, I knew him well as Noah, a Californian mining engineer.

Knowing my presence, Eloise approached and sat in front of me, asking for my plan tomorrow and how to executed it. I explained in as much detail as possible and it seemed like She was interested and at the end of the conversation he decided to joined with me to rented a motorbike and explored Samosir Island together.

A vegan and doesn’t consume an alcohol. Naturally he slept faster that night.

The homestay staff suggestion drove me to a house that located at opposite the homestay to rented a motorbike for USD 4 for my trip tomorrow. I was served with hot tea and talked with the owner for several minutes after she knew that my house location in Jakarta was very near with her daughter house. Evidently her daughter lived in Jakarta too.

Morning Samosir……                                                                                               

All guests haven’t woken up, I’ve been sight seeing the morning busyness in Toba Lake. Students joked on their trip to school, many people jogged in the morning, some residents feed their pets and young people cleaned up the bars after last night parties.

I found the highest street in Tuk Tuk area to seeing the sunrise freely. Majority edges of lake which had became hotel areas required me to enjoyed the sunrise in my own way.

I also took the time to using the homestay facilities. circling the volleyball field and sat in the garden.

Just ate dried onde-onde (Indonesian originl food) that I bought yesterday made a free breakfast that morning.

Precisely at 7 o’clock, I took a rented motorbike. The new motorbike without license plate made me a little worried if met police there. Motorbike owner assured me, “if you were checked by police, just said that the motorbike belonged to your homestay, the police would know that you was a tourist, and moreover you was riding a motorcycle together with Australian girl” …. So I didn’t need worry.

Let’s go explored Samosir.

Dibalik Hematnya Bagus Bay Homestay

Aku melompat ke dalam melalui jendela setelah Mbak Resepsionis tak mampu membuka pintu kamar. Berhasil masuk dan “klik”, terbukalah pintu dengan sekali putaran. 

Memilih penginapan adalah masalah selera. Tapi buatku dormitory tetaplah nomor satu. Menjaga kantong demi langgengnya cita-cita….traveling…. #bokisbanget

Setelah sedormitory di Medan, Aku bertemu Eloise kembali disini. Kutunjukkan tarianku bersama Si Gale-Gale kepadanya. Cekikikan melihat polahku menari. Bercerita banyak tentang tripnya menuju Toba, Dia merasa kurang nyaman melihat banyak orang merokok di bus sementara terdapat anak-anak.

Kelelahan membuatku tertidur hingga jam 8 malam. Beruntung ada air hangat di kamar mandi bersama. Menuju lobby yang sekaligus resto, Aku menikmati malam dengan melihat live accouctic ditemani sebotol coca cola.

Kulihat Eloise dipojok dan bicara dengan staff sambil menunjuk peta. Kupikir Dia sedang mempersiapkan tripnya besok. Terlihat juga pria bule berambut panjang yang terus menambah botol bir nya. Tak kusangka Dia akan menjadi room mateku di sebuah dormitory di Bukittinggi 2 hari kemudian. Di Bukittinggi, Aku mengenalnya akrab sebagai Noah, insinyur pertambangan asal California.

Mengetahui keberadaanku, Eloise mendekat dan duduk didepanku, menanyakan rencanaku esok hari dan bagaimana mengeksekusinya. Kujelaskan sedetail mungkin dan sepertinya Dia tertarik dan diakhir pembicaraan Dia memutuskan untuk mengajak naik motor berboncengan membelah Samosir.

Seorang Vegan dan tidak mengkomsumsi alkohol. Wajar Dia tidur lebih cepat malam itu.

Saran staff homestay mengantarkanku menuju ke sebuah rumah di seberang Homestay untuk menyewa motor seharga 60 ribu buat perjalananku esok hari. Disuguhi teh hangat dan berbincang dengan Si Ibu setelah ketahuan rumahku ternyata dekat dengan rumah anaknya yang tinggal di Jakarta.

Morning Samosir……                                                                                               

Semua penginap belum bangun, Aku sudah berkeliling melihat kesibukan masyarakat. Siswa yang bercanda di perjalanan, para orang tua yang berjogging, beberapa warga memberi makan hewan peliharaan dan para anak muda yang membersihkan bar sisa pesta semalam .

Kutemukan jalanan tertinggi di Tuk Tuk untuk melihat sunrise dengan leluasa. Tepian danau yang sudah menjadi area perhotelan mengharuskanku menikmati sunrise dengan caraku sendiri.

Aku juga sempatkan berkeliling ke fasilitas umum homestay. Mengitari lapangan volley dan duduk dibangku taman.

Mengunyah onde-onde kering yang masih ada saja dari kemarin menjadikan sarapan gratis pagi itu.

Tepat jam 7, Aku mengambil motor sewa. Motor baru yang belum berplat nomor membuatku bersemangat tapi sedikit khawatir akan Polisi. Pemilik motor meyakinkan “kalau ditangkap Polisi bilang saja milik Homestay, Polisi akan tahu kalau Abang turis apalagi bawa bule”….Wokelah lanjut.

Yuk kita berangkat eksplor Samosir.

Exploring Tomok for 1,5 hour

I looked very cool when exploring Tomok (an area in Toba Lake, Indonesia) with a 45-litre backpack on the back … hahaha, looked like a usual backpacker… # i’mnotcreativeinstyle

Souvenir sellers didn’t get tired of offering me along my way when exploring Tomok. “Dear, if you don’t buy, it’s OK. But just marry me, please”, She said and joked … #tapforehead.

Exited from port area and crossed Tomok main road, I through the souvenir corridor again until I found a performance stage of Si Gale-Gale (a historic wooden puppet in Samosir Island). The empty stage finally led me to asked to a woman. She said that if I wanted to watched Si Gale-Gale performance, I had to pay IDR 80,000 per performance, It can pay by individual or group.

Tomok main road

I decided to left until I finally found Tomok Parsaoran Tourism Village. Small village with neat traditional houses

I didn’t know, were it accupying ?….So quiet

Continuing my steps, I arrived at King Sidabutar’s Cemetery and welcomed by a old tomb guardian at gate. He put a Ulos (North-Sumatra traditional cloth. He put it on my right shoulder then he let me in. This well-maintained and clean cemetary area are for the family of King Sidabutar. My visit was free of charge and only needed to gave unspecified money to cemetery maintenance donation box.

Nice sculpture…

Exiting cemetery area from a different door, the way directed me to Tomok Batak Museum. A Batak traditional house that instantly resembles a Toraja traditional house.

Korean tourists who were busy taking pictures in front of museum didn’t allow me to captured museum front area. I decided to went inside first. By paying IDR 5,000, I was free to enjoyed every Batak traditional object with an explanation of its function in their cultural life.

There was a souvenir shop inside the museum and the souvenir are museum object duplicates.

I was leaving the museum at 4:05 p.m.

Yes, I got a bonus …. in my step got out from Tomok, I saw Si Gale-Gale in action because there was a group of Jakarta businessmen who paid the action. Slinked in, I was successful sat in the backseat. A show accompanied by a Batak music and led by an MC. There was a person behind the screen who played “Si Gale-Gale”.

The MC asked several people to dance in front together. All businessmen pointed to each other until there were 4 people coming forward. “one more forward, please!”, MC exclaimed. Finally one person ran forward, the businessman seemed surprised that they didn’t know who he was.

All men in the group were dumbfounded, there was intruder entering and taking over their stage … hahaha.

But finally they let me and began to applaused, I danced with pleasure. At the end of the show I greeted them and thanked to them for could join in their show for free. They smiled happily. The most beautiful closing for my  Tomok adventure.

I was finished my Tomok exploration with a very late lunch.

After that, I was escorted by restaurant owner to Bagus Bay Homestay in Tuk-Tuk area by simply paying IDR 20,000.

At this homestay I met Eloise again who just arrived from Medan … Then what were we planning?

1,5 Jam Menyusuri Tomok

Sepertinya Aku terlihat keren menyusuri Tomok dengan backpack ukuran 45 liter di punggung….hehehe, seperti bule-bule backpacker padaumumnya….# GaKreatifNih.

Penjaja souvenir tak lelah menawariku sepanjang perjalanan menuyusuri Tomok.  ” Bang kalau ga beli gapapa deh Aku ikhlas asalkan abang nikahin Aku”, ujarnya…..#pokjidat.

Keluar area pelabuhan dan menyeberang jalan utama Tomok, kembali melewati lorong souvenir sampai aku menemukan panggung pertunjukan Si Gale-Gale. Kursi pertunjukan yang kosong mengantarkanku untuk bertanya pada seorang Ibu. Katanya kalau mau nonton harus membayar 80 ribu per pertunjukan, perorangan atau rombongan.

Jalan Utama di Tomok

Kuputuskan pergi sampai akhirnya aku menemukan Desa Wisata Tomok Parsaoran. Perkampungan kecil dengan rumah adat yang rapi.

Melanjutkan perjalanan, Aku sampai di Pemakaman Raja Sidabutar. Disambut oleh seorang Bapak penjaga makam di gerbang. Dia menaruh kain ulos di pundak kananku lalu mempersilahkan masuk. Area makam yang terawat dan bersih ini diperuntukkan untuk keluarga Raja Sidabutar. Kunjunganku tidak dikenakan biaya dan hanya perlu mengisi kontak sumbangan kebersihan saja.

Keluar area makam dari pintu yang berbeda, mengarahkanku pada jalan menuju Museum Batak Tomok. Sebuah rumah adat Batak yang sekejap mirip rumah adat Toraja.

Para turis Korea yang sibuk berfoto di depan museum  tak memungkinkanku untuk meng-capture area depan museum. Kuputuskan masuk ke dalam dahulu. Dengan membayar 5 ribu, Aku leluasa menikmati setiap benda  adat Batak tradisional dengan penjelasan fungsinya dalam kehidupan budaya mereka.

Di dalam museum disediakan toko souvenir benda-benda duplikat dari barang-barang yang ada di museum.

Aku mulai meninggalkan museum pada jam 16:05.

Pucuk dicinta ulam tiba….dalam langkahku keluar Tomok, Aku melihat Si Gale-Gale sedang beraksi karena ada rombongan pebisnis Jakarta yang memborongnya. Menyelinap masuk, Aku sukses nimbrung di bangku belakang. Pertunjukan diiringi lagu Batak dan dipimpin seorang MC. Ada seorang dibelakang layar yang memainkan Si Gale-Gale.

MC meminta beberapa orang untuk menari di depan bersama. Para pebisnis itu saling tunjuk hingga ada 4 orang maju ke depan. “Ayo satu lagi maju !”, seru MC. Akhirnya ada satu orang berlari maju ke depan, para pebisnis itu sepertinya heran tak kenal siapa dia.

Semua anggota dalam rombongan itu bengong, ada penyusup masuk dan mengambil alih panggung mereka..hahaha.

Tapi akhirnya mereka membolehkanku dan mulai bertepuk tangan, Menarilah diriku dengan senangnya. Di akhir pertunjukkan aku menyalami mereka dan berterimakasih karena bisa gratis bergabung dalam pertunjukan yang mereka borong. Mereka pun semua tersenyum dengan senang hati. Penutup yang indah untuk wisata Tomok kali ini.

Trip di Tomok kuakhiri dengan makan siang yang sangat terlambat. .

Setelahnya Aku diantar pemilik rumah makan menuju Bagus Bay Homestay di daerah Tuk-Tuk dengan cukup membayar 20 ribu

Di homestay inilah aku kembali bertemu Eloise yang sepertinya baru tiba dari Medan….Lalu apa yang kita rencanakan?