Toba ep1: RM1/day trip

Just save RM1 per day.

That’s what Satkuru said when JJ asked 2 years ago in May on how much he should save for this 2 day 1 night trip.

If you’re wondering how on earth do RM270 (following the save-1-ringgit-per-day rule) be sufficient for our Lake Toba trip, that’s because we’re doing it the real backpacking way.

Oh well, not entirely the backpacking way since we stayed at the oh-so-nice-cottage. Heehee!

Barely 2 months prior to flying had only Satkuru and I searched frantically for tour agency that can bring us to our destination dirt cheap. We found few quotations for about RM250, but Satkuru was very ambitious, he vowed to bring the price even lower.

And he did. Like usual.


On the 26th February 2011, 7 of us flown in Medan via AirAsia flight at 9 something in the morning. JY supposed to join us too but due to unavoidable circumstance, she had to forgo this trip. We reached Polonia International Airport at 9 something local time (GMT+7) and were greeted by familiar faces: Yenty, Vingie, Colleen, Aaron and Munak. 

Not only them, the van driver and the boss were there too, with a paper bearing the word “Ms. Satkuru”.

After some introduction between us and the van driver, Satkuru quickly went to the side to get simcard (which costs 85.000 Rupiah = RM30) as the simcard Yenty got for us couldn’t be used on iPhone.

I didn’t get one as I only changed RM250 worth of Rupiah. So no connection for me in the land of Sumatra!


Luckily it’s just a 2D1N trip. 

Before leaving, all of us stock up at least a bottle of water be it 500ml or 1.5l. Yenty got us plenty of snacks and cakes for the long journey down South. So thoughtful of her! <3

The famous Meranti cheese swiss roll! Delicious, but I can only take in one slice. The cheese was too much for me. Keke!

We then got into our van. To our horror, the van is in bad condition and couldn’t fit all of us. 4 were squeezed at the back and 3 girls shared the supposedly 2 people seats. I couldn’t help to wonder if JY is here, some of us would have to sit on top of the van!

Like it or not, we squeezed in like sardine as we need to get out of the bad traffic condition in Medan as soon as possible. While warding off the traffic, the air-cond broke and stopped generating cool air.

Actually it stopped working! We had to slide open the window to get in fresh air. I mean ‘smoggy’ air.

I think our van driver couldn’t take in our ‘complains’ anymore that he made a stop along the way to fix the problem. An older man opened up the van door, opened up the air-cond compartment, and BANGED that compartment few times… until the ‘roaring’ sound of the air-cond belt can be heard. All of us cheered, clapped and thanked the man for his wondrous ability of making the air-cond to come alive! Haha!

We made our way to Brastagi for lunch. This town is is located on the highlands, so in order to get there, we need to go uphill. I read so many nice reviews on Brastagi and I truly looking forward to be in that town.

However, the journey was torturous. Three factors contributed to this harrowing car ride: the potholes, the honk and the way the driver overtaking car!

My gawd, I never be so thankful of the road condition in my country until after coming back from Medan. The amount of potholes really drove us mad, hurting our butt and sometimes head as our van went up and down, left and right.

The honk was considerably okay to me, as I’ve got accustomed to it from the Cambodia trip I had two years ago. But what fascinates me was they’re using honk as the cue to overtake, rather than to give warning or to ‘scold’ people like how we use our honk here. There, if you plan to overtake, just honk. If you’re at a steep curve, just honk. If got nothing to do, honk!

Oh, I simply add in the last sentence. Hee!

The 3rd factor really terrifies me. I’ve never seen people overtaking in such a short leeway. The car from opposite lane was already coming near yet all the 4WD and the pickup cars overtook our van like nobody’s business. Even the lorries/trucks did this several times! Not only that, the vehicles that overtook our van came so close to the van that I felt as though they’re gonna knock us off the track.

It was so scary (T_T) but an adrenaline-including experience.

As we went higher and higher, we began to feel cold that it’s okay for the air-cond to spoil if it wants to because we’ve slid open the window. Haha!

The scenery outside changed too. Earlier it was all brownish, muddy and dusty. Nearing the town, we saw more greens and blues and can even sniff in the fresh air. I began to feel relax upon looking at these and told Satkuru, we’ve made the right choice of coming here.

That cow said “I’m not relaxed yet. We haven’t reach our hotel.

Luan loh that fella. Ish.

Soon, the van turned into a curve and I know that we’ve reached Brastagi. Brastagi gave me a feeling of being in Cameron Highlands! I don’t know if it’s because of the coldness or the plantation/farm around the place but it really did. I kept telling Satkuru, I wanna eat strawberry! Strawberry! and he said mai luan.

We went by few nice farms, houses, and small shophouses before coming to a stop at the side of a yellow painted building. Yenty then turned to Satkuru (who was sitting next to me) and told him that we’re going to have lunch here. Nobody disagreed as we were so hungry.

It rained so heavily suddenly when the driver parked his van beside the yellow painted building. All of us ran quickly to the coffeeshop without any umbrella. Haha.

Inside, we went for the longest table in the coffee shop which can actually squeeze in all 13 pax, but due to the fact that the chairs aren’t the rounded ones and need to make ways for camera bags, so Emily, her sis and Munak sat at the next table. The waiter came and passed us the menu that made us stared blankly at it.

Believe it or not, we practically made Yenty to explain the food, ingredients in it, texture and even the taste!

I wanted to order those with nice names, but after hearing explanations, I decided to stick with the familiar one, soto.

I think most of us ordered soto.

However, when Aaron’s order came, it made both Satkuru and I regret in ordering soto. His dish looked much more delicious than ours.

After lunch, our van driver drove us to this spectacular waterfall, the Sipiso Piso waterfall in Tongging. It was a 45 minutes breezy drive. The scenery along the way is so breathtaking that I don’t think I can forget it.

I remembered seeing ladies gathered and washing high piles of carrots. I saw vegetation farms and excitedly shoved Satkuru into looking at the strawberry farm! Seriously, if we weren’t on tight schedule, I would suggest stopping at side for those freshly plucked berries (tho I’m unsure if they will sell them, lol).

As for the ride, it was much better too as we were already at the highlands. Just that the roads aren’t proper and there are potholes everywhere due to the heavy downpours at the area.

Still, the drive was memorable. It was still drizzling. and it got colder too. I had to pull out my jacket to cover myself. Brr~

There’s one point where our driver suddenly pulled a stop, reversed a little and then stopped for a minute. I was wondering if the driver had taken the wrong road because we were reversing but I didn’t really care because were busy taking photos outside.

He reversed more and took the right turn. 5 minutes into the road, we saw the signboard for Sipiso-piso waterfall. But it led us to this narrow path that was impossible to drive into. That instant all of us were like shocked and definitely agreed on not hiking up that path.

I was shocked too because I read countless articles on Sipiso-piso waterfall and none mentioned on hiking to the entrance of the waterfall. If walk down the hill to get to the bottom of the waterfall, I truly understand. But this, we had yet to see the waterfall what’s there to hike?

So, Yenty pressured the driver to ask around, since he seemed like he wasn’t familiar with this area (which made both Satkuru and me went WTFish as in the email, the owner claimed that he experienced.

He asked a passerby and was told that the entrance is just further down the road. He continued driving.

BUT… he stopped not long after that, which I didn’t why. I only knew the view on my right was so spectacular!

My guess was he wanted to give us time to take photos of that fabulous scenery since there wasn’t any car on the road.

Or maybe someone asked him if we can stop there. Haha!

Aaron and Munak both went down to take photos while the rest stayed in the van because it was so hard to get out and in.

Afterall it was still drizzling.

Our van driver drove us along this carless road and when he did this curvy turn, all of us went wahhhh~ upon seeing Lake Toba!