“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
I know what some of you are thinking when you saw the title of this article. To be very honest, I was thinking the same way when I first heard a person refer to Lake Toba region in North Sumatra as the “Monaco of Asia.” Little did I know, our journey to Lake Toba would turn out to be one of (if not) the most memorable and beautiful journey I have ever had.
Lake Toba has been part of traveller folklore for decades. It is the largest lake in Indonesia, the second-largest in the world after Lake Victoria in Africa, and the largest volcanic lake in the world. Lake Toba is also the deepest lake in the world, which is approximately 450 meters deep.
I am not a morning person, but we were so captivated by the beautiful scenery that my friend and I woke up early the next morning eager to explore more of the lake. We walked out of the hotel and before us, was the celebrated lake, with its glittering surface and undulating shoreline. We went straight down to the lake, it was so calm and we could see towns surrounding the lake. I could not believe it; here I was in Lake Toba.
Parapat is a small town on the shores of Lake Toba that is blessed by this beautiful scenery where you are pampered with magnificent and soul-soothing natural views of the expansive but calm lake. There are many ways to reach Parapat, other than taking the 3-hour train journey from Medan like we did, you can take a scenic five-hour drive there. Or you can also land at Silangit airport, then continue on a two-hour drive to Lake Toba. Trust me every minute of the drive is worth it, the view along the way is simply breath-taking.
Durian lovers would love coming here, as you can find durian easily, it tastes good and the price is very reasonable. As we were driving along exploring the region, one of my friends who lived most of his life in Europe said, “This place reminds me of home.” At that moment I realised the extent of the beauty that Lake Toba region are comparable to some destinations overseas, if not better. I know for some of you it might be hard to believe it.
There are many places that are beautiful here, but you must visit Bukit Doa. A few hours’ drive from Parapat, Bukit Doa is located 1550 meters above sea level. It has become one of the best attractions in North Sumatra and a landmark of the Muara District. Once you reach the location, you will see an iconic monument, in the shape of praying hands. There you can see a postcard perfect view of Lake Toba and the surroundings.
After driving for about four hours from Parapat, we arrived at the stunning Sipiso-piso Waterfall. This long but narrow waterfall drops 120 meters into an impressive gorge below, it is said to be one of the highest waterfalls in Indonesia. This thundering waterfall is popular with guests who come to photograph this magnificent natural wonder. Surrounded by a lush green mountains cape and with a rainbow forming at the base of the waterfall, it’s hard to imagine a more impressive subject for a photograph.
Our next stop was the Menara Pandang Tele (Tele Tower). It was built in 1988 and has 4 different levels. The highest level is the favourite place for a better view of the landscape. As we climbed up to the highest level, we couldn’t stop oooh and aaah-ing at the majestic scenery. Everywhere you turn takes your breath away. Tele Tower features many beautiful views aside from the lake; it offers stunning rice fields and the Pusuk Buhit Mountain.
I know that I have said it many times before but ever since I arrived at Parapat, every where I turned was nothing but a breathtaking scenery. Simply enjoy the beauty, the culture and the peace of North Sumatra, soak in the beauty of “The Monaco of Asia.”
Text by Melani Semuel | Photos by Febri Amar