The final few days in Lake Toba were incredibly relaxing, similar as the first part of my stay there. I ended up enjoying 6 nights at the Bagus Bay home stay. Staying longer than most people is a funny experience, as you see new faces come and other people you have seen regularly for a few days depart and disappear into the wind. Meeting fellow travelers is often an interesting experience. Most people have a pretty similar mindset (laid back, easy going, exploring the world). One night I was drinking beers and sharing travel stories (which is often where the conversation goes) with a guy from Poland, England and New Orleans. Meeting and hanging out with people from all over the world is fun, although I always know that these are friendships that will likely last only as long as I am in that particular location. Maybe we will exchange email info and perhaps become friends on Facebook, but seeing each other again is highly unlikely unless we our next stops on our respective trips are to the same place.
One of the highlights from the last part of my stay in Toba involved a trio of young girls who had come to TukTuk on their day off. They said they were in school, and wanted to come and practice speaking English with tourists. I was hanging out at the home stay, as I did most afternoons, so they came over and asked if I would talk with them. Little did I know where the conversation would soon lead.
They started out with the standard questions I get from most locals in SE Asia- where am I from, how old am I, where else I have been in Indonesia, where else I am going, how many days in Lake Toba, etc. They were giggling and laughing the whole time, clearly nervous about speaking English with someone. They did say they were nervous because I was so handsome, which was either them being nice for me agreeing to talk with them or they were being honest. Either way, compliment accepted.
The girls kept asking if I had a girlfriend, and every time I said no they would point to one of their friends, say she is single too, and giggle for a while longer. Eventually they asked such an amazing question that I had to repeat it to make sure I heard it right.
“Do you like… girls… buttocks?”
“Do I like… girls butts???”
Unreal. Perhaps the most amazing question I have ever been asked. Many giggles ensued and they confirmed that I did indeed hear their question correctly. I answered in the affirmative- yes I do like girls buttocks. In return, I asked them if they like guys buttocks, to which they said yes. Eventually the chat with the trio of girls ended, we took some photos, and they were on their way. I doubt I will ever forget being asked if I like girls’ buttocks.
I did spend a few hours one morning watching the NBA Playoffs, which was the first time I had seen even one second of this year’s playoffs live. At home, I would have watched at least 50% of every minute played, and 100% of certain games. This was the Miami Heat (one of my favorite teams) vs the Indiana Pacers (a good young team and the Heat’s current rival). The Heat prevailed as I watched on my barely working stream of the game. It was definitely better than not watching it, and another marvel of the internet. I was able to watch a LIVE NBA game taking place in Miami while I was eating breakfast in the middle of Sumatra. Pretty amazing.
Overall TukTuk and Samosir island was a very memorable stop. It felt like a land frozen in time. While there are TVs and people have smart phones, most of the locals seem to subside on farming and overall live a pretty simple life. Tourism is definitely a big part of the economy on certain parts of the island, but there is a huge percentage of the locals that live without any daily interactions with any tourists. It is a trek to get to Lake Toba, but a worthwhile location.
My last day in TukTuk ended up being my worst day of the trip by far. I woke up with mild food poisoning and feeling pretty horrible. It was my travel day, too, so the upcoming ferry ride and 6 hour car ride were NOT going to be fun. After sleeping in until check out, I managed to eat some fruit, yogurt, and cereal to at least get some food in my stomach. The ferry took me back to Parapat, which I survived without incident. After getting off the ferry, I got suckered into another taxi ride. It really isn’t that bad of a deal (about $6 for the entire car ride). The problem, as was the same in Medan, is that they won’t leave until there are enough people (or ideally the taxi is full). So I waited for about an hour at the taxi stand, sweating and trying not to vomit. What was supposed to be a 20 minute wait ended after 60 minutes, and the car was finally moving. Before we could officially head to Medan, one of the passengers had to first drop her (?) baby off in the area (no joke), and then we picked up two more people to fill up the car at 6. I was in the way back with no windows, so if it was vomit time it would be a mess.
I was able to sleep a bit, and thankfully survived the car ride back to Medan without depositing any food in the back seat. There were come cold sweats, and I finally was forced to used a squat toilet at a rest stop (not an easy task), but thankfully no messes in the car. Private space is definitely a bit different here, as one of the fellow passengers in our taxi took roughly 7 phone calls and enjoyed the entire conversation (with lots of laughs) very loudly. Despite thinking for sure I would be the last to get dropped off, I was in fact first which was a huge relief. I checked into my hotel, cranked up the AC, and laid on my bed for a few hours before going to sleep. The next afternoon would be a flight from Medan to the island of Nias and I hoped to be feeling much better by then.