The stun­ning land­scape of North Su­ma­tra’s Lake Toba.

They once said “all roads lead to Rome”. The same say­ing ap­plies to Lake Toba in North Su­ma­tra.

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Contents - Words Keshie Her­ni­tan­ingtyas

To reach Lake Toba, the world’s largest vol­canic lake cov­er­ing 1,707 square kilo­me­ters, the eas­i­est way is by fly­ing to Medan and con­tin­u­ing with a four-hour jour­ney by car. Look­ing for a cheaper way to get there? Many buses con­nect Medan and Para­pat, the small town where Lake Toba is lo­cated, with a six-hour trip.

For those de­part­ing from Malaysia, there’s another chal­leng­ing route if you’re up for a lit­tle ad­ven­ture.

Tan­jung­balai, with its port of Teluk Ni­bung, is an area where Batak and Malay cul­tures meet. It is worth­while spend­ing a day or two in the city, en­joy­ing the time sam­pling the unique cui­sine or watch­ing art per­for­mances.

Tan­jung­balai has a pop­u­la­tion of 156,000 res­i­dents, about 42 per­cent of them are Bataks while just over 15 per­cent are of Malay de­scent.

Taste the bi-cul­tural mix through some tra­di­tional dishes like pon­gat (cu­cur­bits or bananas stewed in su­gar overnight, then blended with co­conut milk un­til it turns black), bubur pedas (spicy por­ridge made from var­i­ous veg­eta­bles and medic­i­nal plants) and ren­dang serai kepah (a type of clam cooked in spices and co­conut milk).

In Tan­jung­balai, a tour along the

Our tra­di­tional cus­toms, such as mar­riage rit­u­als, cir­cum­ci­sion cer­e­monies or house-mov­ing cer­e­monies,

are also in­ter­est­ing

river is worth a try, as the waters are sourced from both Lake Toba and the Strait of Malacca.

De­spite its hid­den trea­sure as a tourism spot, most of those us­ing the Tan­jung­balai route are work­ers and mer­chants go­ing about their ev­ery­day busi­ness.

The lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­cently put more ef­fort into at­tract­ing more tourists, es­pe­cially for­eign­ers, to visit Tan­jung­balai be­fore they get to Lake Toba.

The Tourism and Cre­ative Econ­omy Min­istry also stepped in by ini­ti­at­ing the Tan­jung­balai and Toba Cul­tural Fes­ti­val.

Lo­cated in La­pan­gan Pasir, Tan­jung­balai, the fes­ti­val is set to be held an­nu­ally. It fea­tured dance per­for­mances such as Gor­dang Sam­bi­lan, Tor-Tor, Me­layu and Gubang.

The fes­ti­val also dis­plays cui­sine and a craft mar­ket in sev­eral booths to in­tro­duce lo­cal dishes and art­works.

“We have so much to de­velop for Tan­jung­balai tourism. We could de­velop river tours and lo­cal crafts such as ac­ces­sories made from clamshells,” said Tan­jung­balai mayor Tham­rin Mun­the.

“Our tra­di­tional cus­toms, such as mar­riage rit­u­als, cir­cum­ci­sion cer­e­monies or house-mov­ing cer­e­monies are also in­ter­est­ing enough to watch.”

Orig­i­nally pub­lished on jak­post/

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