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)

Tourist Attraction in Samosir, North Sumatra

Adjusting your motorbike speed and snaking to avoid gravels on the Samosir’s roads is a lesson that must be mastered quickly. If it doesn’t pass, surely the gravel will throw you on the street.

Two car bumps incidents happened during my trip there. My focus wasn’t on the incident, but on their humorous when they quarreled in the middle of street which made a long traffic jam because they weren’t going to put the car aside immadiately.

What more did I got.…?

Many buffaloes suddenly crossed on the street, Big black pigs (bigger than a goat) were passing by or dogs that made the asphalt as its bed. All of that are precious views that isn’t exactly find in the capital city.

Combined with the school building which located under Toba hills, it made me endless thinking, why haven’t I enjoyed this beauty since I started to loved my traveling.…I must explore my beautiful country in my next trips.

“I love this island”, She muttered.…She piggybacked behind, so She could see everywherw compared to me who had focused to rode motorbike. Her sport camera always on to documenting Samosir Island and bring it to Aussie … but it was OK, I still had enough memory in the brain to store many beauty spot there.

Road widening project made some lanes become slow lanes and wet soil spills made it slippery. And there were the large number of small insects that can hit your unprotect eye, so always weared glasses or helmet glass if you traveling by motorbike there.

Never looked for gas station there, I failed to find it. It was better to filled gas at the retail gas stall as soon as you saw it, before you entered hilly areas with rare gas stalls.

Two liters gas trip was started to visited “The Efrata”, a small waterfall in Harian District. Getting out of the main road through the rocky village road made me the first visitor there, ticket seller hadn’t arrived yet. I was lucky…It was be my free attraction that day. I hid my rented motorbike behind the managerial office, because I would leave it for few moments to enjoyed the waterfall behind the small hill.

Leaving “Efrata”, I immediately headed to the closest waterfall, “Naisogop”. Heading north I spurred my motorbike fastly because the road was so nice even though it swung sharply up and down the hill. As far as the eye can see you will be amazed by the beauty of Toba Lake from above.

This “Naisogop” waterfall is located above the hill. Motorbike drivers must be a bit adept when climbing the road. The motorbike must be stopped far from the location, so please use a double lock for security.

Leaving the “Naisogop”, the one I always remember was the friendliness of all residents who lived under the waterfall area. Every time we passed them, they always offered coffee for rest a moment.

I spurred my rented motorbike towards Aek Rangat, the famous hot spring in Samosir island, the smell of sulfur began to stab my nose when my motorbike approached the area. Passing the Aek Rangat signboard, I never met the hot water source, instead I was missed its location because of the unclear information about the hot water source location.

The explanation of a post guard finally led me. I began to be suspicious when I saw the bare white hill didn’t have activity. Sure enough when approaching, the large pool was dry and there were only a stretch of tangled PVC pipes. Apparently since 2 years ago, the hot water had been flowed into resident’s pools to made it as their home business.

My intention to took a bath in a natural public pool was vanished and no longer intend to took a bath with hot water in the residents’ pool even though it only payed USD 0,7. According to the pool owner, in fact his main business wasn’t on the hot pool but on their restaurant. Guests ate at restaurants then continued bathing in hot pool.

Intending to went back to homestay, in the middle of journey my heart was curious with “Parbaba White Sand Beach”. “Do you want to see Parbaba Beach, Eloise?” She was confused when there was a beach on the lake … this was what I saw:

I tried to enjoy the beach even though it was a little jealous because She was busy doing photos with many local young people….She absolutely like artist…White girl standed around the Indonesian brown skin.… hahaha.

Finally, the time separated us, that afternoon I had to catch “INTRA” Bus at Pematang Siantar which I booked a day before by phone and would depart at 7 pm. Returned to homestay and left her there….She must continued her trip to other place too.

Bye Bye Samosir, Bye Bye Toba

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.

50 Minutes Sailing on Toba Lake, North Sumatra

“Sir, please fill it,” a ferry crew smiled and gave me a manifest sheet which had already been humid because of drizzle exposure all day. I must write my name, address and age in it. This process reminded me to the sinking of a ferry “Sinar Bangun” in Simanando area (an area on Toba lake) 4 months before I filled the manifest.

I waited for one hour since my arrival at Tigaraja Port until the manifest came. I chose to docked at Tomok Port even though I will spend the night around Tuk Tuk Port.

Entering 1st floor deck of ferry, a granny greeted me and offered me to bought her smoky boiled peanuts, it suitable for cold weather that time.

The 2nd floor deck was my spot choice to caught some pictures using my camera for 50 minutes sailing.…I deliberately sat near shelf of life jackets… hihihi, hopefully I didn’t have to “jumped”.

Two beautiful women and three young men who more handsome than me walked up and down the deck for got selfie and took pictures, I just saw them and ate my hot peanuts. I chewed it one by one to against cold weather.

I was waiting for Batak (a original ethnic in north Sumatra) song, but instead NOAH song (a famous modern band group in Indonesia) sang throughout the trip. It was understandably because a captain and crew were young.

Okay whatever …. It was time to acted.

Moving to the left and right of 2nd floor ferry deck, my eyes were amazed by hills with thin clouds on top.… Incredible paintings of God … My eyes began to cried.

On deck, the crew took USD 0,7 per passenger as fare… Around 3:02 pm, ferry arrived at a port, I hurried down. But a crew detained me, apparently it wasn’t the intended Tomok Port. The port belongs to Lopo Inn Hotel … Maybe they who got off would stay in this hotel.

Only 5 minutes for dropped all passengers at Lopo Inn Port then ferry departed for Tomok Port. And within 3 minutes, ferry approached Tomok port.

I directly hunted photos around it when everyone quickly left the port. I murmured, “Maybe, God willn’t deliver me here twice”, so I would maximized every moment in my adventure.

Leaving the outer side of port I began to entering tourist area of Tomok. The first view that I passed was a long aisle of souvenir stalls. It spoiled my eyes. But it won’t affect backpacker like me who have never bought airplane baggage for souvenir space and only brought backpack that was fully loaded by travel equipment.

My strategy was right to left Medan early morning and firstly headed to Tomok in Toba lake. Time was mine now, there were 3 hours to visit some attractions in Tomok before checked in to Bagus Bay Homestay in Tuk Tuk area.

Where did I have to visited attractions?

Bus “SEJAHTERA” from Medan to Toba Lake, North Sumatra

I would tell my journey by Bus “SEJAHTERA” from Medan City to Toba Lake. The distance was 170 km and bus fare was IDR 40,000 (USD 2,85). The special thing wasn’t on got into the bus but in curiosity along the trip to immediately met the largest volcanic lake in the world.

dhazong

Yes that is the Dazhong Backpacker’s Hostel lobby….Bored.… became a first guest who woke up on early morning, but my plan failed to catched the first departure Bus “SEJAHTERA” on 6 am. One hour pacing, I made noisy sound with a hope that hostel owner would get up. Starting by pushed bell many times at reception desk or got in and out the door so the “WELCOME” sound sensor rang. Crazy activity aimed to got back my deposit money in hostel.

6:10am He woke up.…but, I didn’t immediately get GORIDE (online base transportation in Indonesia) because of a weak signal, I decided to got close to center of Little India area, precisely at Shri Mariamman Temple. Around 6:34am GORIDE picked me up. Didn’t breakfast yet I immediately went up, I would definitely arrive at Amplas Terminal 5 minutes before bus departed. It was true that GORIDE hadn’t entered yet into terminal. The bus looked out from terminal, I rushed down from GORIDE and waiting for bus to approached me.

Here, I got a photo of Amplas Terminal on a day before when I arrived from Kualanamu Airport:

amplas

10 minutes into bus, drizzle turned into heavy rain. This economy bus often stopped for raising passengers before entering into highway. Rain requires all windows to be closed. It was the challenge.… how to set my breath so didn’t inhale much smoke along the way. With closed windows and many passengers smoked, when they finished one cigarette then they would smoke other ones.…crazy.

When starving, no one food hawker came into bus. I was only occasionally chatting on Facebook Massanger with “The Beauty” Eloise who kept asking how I was going to Toba Lake, She was an Australian solo traveler who met me at dormitory in Medan City. She would go to Toba Lake in the day by copying what I did. Also, She asked where I got a guesthouse in Toba Lake for IDR 60,000 (USD 4,3)… Later I would tell to you how finally we were both riding a motorcycle on exploring Samosir island.

bus sejahtera

Noisy sound of worn wipers together with Batak songs accompanied me to enjoyed view of streets, villages, and oil palm plantations.

At 11:25 my eyes were stunned on appearance of wide waters after bus descended a ridge somewhere. Yesss … it was Toba Lake … It was cool.

Driver’s change to bus return trip to Medan was did before arriving at Tigaraja Ferry Port. I almost went too far from drop point because bus conductor didn’t tell me where the bus was, I just monitored “Your Position” on Google Maps. It looked like I stayed away from Tigaraja Port. I decided to get off from bus and walked in a drizzle to port.

Didn’t want to lost the moment of photo hunting along Tigaraja Port then I bought umbrella for IDR 50,000 (USD 3,5) in the market around the port.

tigaraja

Several corners of Tigaraja Port

Toba Lake … I came!

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?