7 Fast Destination at Pematang Siantar

Sitting in waiting room, my gaze focused on my watch and INTRA bus office yard….Never saw when he arrived, from right side of the yard, he shouted to me. It was nice to meet an old friend.

His kindness and simplicity was still the same as Erwin who I met in Kuala Lumpur 2013 ago. Remembered again when he gave me a small box of red cakes on Kuala Lumpur’s Hop on Hop off. And now, he gave me four hours of his time to enjoying Pematang Siantar.

Come on, bro, ride up!“, He said while turning backpack to his chest. I Instantly glided on his 90’s Japan motorcycle towards his home. He had to change a teacher uniform which he wore before going around the city.

1. Warung Miso Pematang

Let’s have lunch first, bro! There is something special for you. Come on!“, His smile ignored my rejection because he just wanted to be a good host. Tracing the “rat path” which I never knew its exact location, I felt the rear tire was a bit shaky. It made me believe that Erwin is a sincere and simple person.

Warung Miso Pematang. Oh, is this the special dish that is meant?“, I muttered. Erwin rushed into the restaurant with its front door at the back. While I was still in the yard, busy capturing the picture. It was amazingly delicious, a bowl of Miso, a mixture of yellow-white noodles which are flushed with soup mixed with fried tofu, chicken liver-gizzard and mushroom for USD 1.3.

The dish was closed with fresh orange juice….Yummy.
The first Siantar specialty food which I tasted.

2. Pedicab Monument BSA (Birmingham Small Army).

Come on, I’ll show you the Siantar icon!“, He spoke while cranked the motor starter. I give a thumb as agree sign. Riding along Sudirman Street until finally arrived at a motorized rickshaw-crowned monument. Supposedly said that this city has almost 1,000 war motorbikes. Therefore you have to queue to be able to take a picture in front of the monument.

The main character this time.

3. Sintong Bingei Public Library

Right behind the monument is a public library owned by the city government while on the right opposite is Pematang Siantar City Hall where the Mayor worked.

Sintong Bingei Public Library. Sintong Bingei is father of the North Sumatra “Cigarette King“-Edwin Bingei Purbo Siboro.

4. Pematang Siantar City Hall

Pematang Siantar City Hall is a century-old Dutch building.

Gecko ornaments in most of large buildings in Siantar made me to asked a question about it. Erwin briefly explained that gecko is a wisdom and wealth symbol for the Batak ethnic. Local people call it as Gorga Boraspati.

5. Hangout Area near Pedicab Monument

While on right side of the monument is a coffee shop row which seems to only wait for short time to be filled by city millennials to hang out at night.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to sip the coffee.

6. Pematang Siantar City’s Bunga Park

While right behind hang out area is Bunga Park. As a Child Friendly Public Open Space makes this park as a favorite place to spend time with family after work.

The perfect place to celebrate a weekend for city dwellers.

7. Ganda Bakery

Bro, it’s almost dark, let’s go back to INTRA office!“, Erwin reminded me. I jumped on his motorcycle and hurried to INTRA bus office. Upss ….”Why Bakery?“, I suspected.

Don’t flatter yourself, I don’t buy bread for you, but I will buy it for my family at home“, he thinly smiled. I was burst out laughing when seeing his act. I took a moment to enjoy storefronts with fragrant aroma of tempting bread.

Ganda Bakery is legendary since 1979.

Ten minutes later, I was standing outside and waiting for him to complete payment at the cashier. And then….He held two packs of bread in his hands.

This is for your breakfast tomorrow on the way“, he said while offering a packet of bread with srikaya jam which was famously delicious. It was forbidden to refuse it, so I accepted it with many thanks.

Come on, now it’s really going to INTRA Bus office and not stopping by anymore!“, He said with a laugh. That was the end of my fast journey at Pematang Siantar.

Thank You Erwin. See you later.

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

Bus INTRA from Pematang Siantar to Pekanbaru

I left Lake Toba by a taxi (in Jakarta, it may be called “omprengan”.…(using minibus to transport passengers) for USD 3 with 1 hour 50 minutes travel time. It finally led me to visit a new city … yes, Pematang Siantar. The city that I never think to visit it.

The taxi dropped me off in Parluasan area, an area which famous as hoodlums producer in Indonesia. Horrific, but for me this was an extraordinary mental experience.

The driver drove me right across INTRA bus office on Sisingamangaraja street. A INTRA bus parked to upload passengers makes it was easy for me to make sure that I didn’t get it wrong.

INTRA office

Hurrying up and heading to ticket sales counter then paid for my ticket which was ordered by phone call a day before. Fearing if my order didn’t recorded and I could miss Pekanbaru in next day.

Buy a ticket here !….You better order at least a day before departing

Thank to God, my name was in list and I gave USD 17,5 to exchange with a sheet of ticket to Pekanbaru … Yes, welcome Pekanbaru.

Sitting in a waiting room, my gaze was fixed on my watch and INTRA office yard … Never seen when He arrived, from right end of bus office yard He shouted for me. Happy, meet old friend.

His name is Andy Erwin, we met on Hop On Hop Off (HoHo) bus in Kuala Lumpur in 2013. Since it, we have been friend and I never thought that I could stop by to his home….an umpteenth surprise on my journey.

waiting room at INTRA bus office

Waiting for four hours wasn’t a pleasant thing, it would be nice to go around city. Incidentally, Erwin was ready to take me around by his motorbike. I won’t discuss what I got for 4 hours journey in the city, I’d better tell it in another article.

After returning from my exploration in city which famous for its “war veteran bentor” (bentor is public transportation in Pematang Siantar which using old Harley Davidson) , I went back to INTRA bus office and was ready for departing to Pekanbaru. Thanks Erwin for brought me to sightseeing Pematang Siantar.

Slowly I started to get in INTRA Bus. It is embedded in my mindset that I must ready to ride this land roller coaster all night. There is a lot of info which I have gotten in internet that this “running box” will run very fast through roads towards Riau. Indeed, drivers from Sumatra are very well known for their high adrenaline in driving cars or buses. I’ll also tell you later when I couldn’t sleep when riding ANNANTA travel from Pekanbaru to Bukittinggi which is just as crazy in its speed.

That soft seats that I will occupy for 14 hours to travel about 600 km towards Pekanbaru.

I said that this bus is very comfortable, as comfortable as Jakarta to Solo buses (Jakarta is capital city of Indonesia, Solo is my hometown in Central Java) that I often ride when going to my hometown.…Well, you just know my origin.

It will become perfect if a socket under my seat is functioning, so I can just write on laptop or just charge my camera which is low battery. Unfortunately, all socket on all seats didn’t work.

Of course, I can’t enjoy night views out there because condition was really dark. I can only enjoy speed of bus in preceding every vehicle in front of it. This driver is amazing.

On next day, I could see real views from suburb of Trans Sumatra Highway.

Gardens belonging to residents

Or economic growth was seen from appearance of these shop houses.

Only 1 or 2 traffic jams which I encountered along the way because there was a road renovation, so all vehicles had to queue with other side to get through half of road.

Entering Pekanbaru city, bus began to slow down because urban traffic would certainly be more dense.

It wasn’t a terminal like I imagined where I will be taken down. But it was only a non-permanent building which is the final destination of INTRA bus:


A restaurant with a row of clean toilets.

After cleaning my body then I was exiting the building, I was offered by motorbike and taxi drivers to head to downtown. But to avoided a high price, I prefered to use online transportation services to go to Hotel.

I put my backpack and started exploring “Madani City” (madani city is another name of Pekanbaru city)