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Despite Erwin being quite nervous that we wouldn’t, we totes did make the ferry on time.
The Powder Monkey was quite pleased to be on a boat and out of the car, he’d found it quite an oar deal and thought it was a boat time. Lucky he didn’t feel the urge to “throw big water or small water” here, cos that’s forbidden.
(that means little wees and big poos, BTW, and don’t even think about doing it there cos you can’t, but someone has done it enough to deserve a sign).

All the cool hipsters and their motorbikes crowded aboard the party boat…

...but the D’admiral was more wise and located a vehicle appropriate to our party bus.

Here are some fish who got put in prison for not listening to the highest-ranking officer present, they had it coming.
Once safely tetris’d on board, we relaxed in the ‘passanger room’ and enjoyed the receding view, while also anticipating the upcoming Samosir view and making friends with old Sumatran dudes who can’t resist asking Bule what the fuck they are doing here if they’re not Dutch.
Then, just in case we were missing the naked-ish people from the mountain, these small children were obliging enough to be there when we arrived. Can they breathe underwater? Hmmm, don’t hold your breath.
We had decided to add an extra day on Samosir, since we thought by this stage we might want a little rest. Apart from a surfeit of Dutch millennials trying to ‘find themselves’, it was a good place to do so.

They even had a traditional-style poolside beer-drinking zone!

Not to mention a cool sunset
They localise all the tourists on a little peninsula called Tuk Tuk, so we decided the best thing to do with our down time was to do a lap and see if we could stimulate the economy any more.
Halfway around, Stinky forced us to stop and have a drink at a lake-side restaurant she goes to every time she’s on Toba. Fine, if we have to.
Moose spotted a creature he has decided is a new breed of lake otter and refused to accept that it might maybe be a DIY buoy made out of bottles. He loves it and has promised to make it his wife.
Before we left, our cultural contribution was a $5 note to the establishment’s foreign currency collection – we can’t believe there was no other Australian representation!
As our journey continued, everyone heroically resisted the urge to start a fight with a couple of dumpster cats (Moose was probably distracted about how he was going to propose to his otter-wife)…
This chicken was also out for a walk - was it to find their eggs? Who can say.
As we completed the loop, we saw the greatest thing of all – our naked friends from Mt Sibayak! Score!! And they were still kinda naked!
Our cunning rest-day plan also include a two and a half hour massage because life is hard.
Later, although relaxed almost to the point of coma, that night we nonetheless still had the energy to delight in slightly misspelled signs…
…and play our second-favourite writing game (the first being adding “and then the murders began” as the second line of any story – eg, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and Earth. And then the murders began”; “Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes. And then the murders began”.) Everyone got to write two lines of a story, but could only see the second line of the previous writer’s work.
One day I went for a walk along Lake Toba.
I stood alone.
As the moon shone brightly,
The orangutan chased us through the forest.
Mina chased us and caught our guide punching a baby.
said Nonna, “That’s my job!”
She wound back her arm and
Punched so hard that everyone saw stars,
especially the pregnant cat that was begging for fish
was kicked to kingdom come
and came back with a million friends.
And that’s when the murders began.

Unfortunately poor Chuckles’ apparent willingness to fight a baby orangutan in defence of her family had somehow turned into a belief that she punches babies.
Blood gushed from
his head, his eyes closed.
Then I smelled it –
it was revolting!
Disgusting! Horrible! Gross!
But I ate it anyway.
The effects were immediate.
Before I knew it I was in the air
wondering what had hit me.
I’m not a baby, so it probably
wasn't Nonna.
By the way, she’s
Still punching babies.
“What needs to happen for you
to stop behaving so poorly?” we asked.
And then the murders began…

We probably all lucky that she didn’t punch us for perpetuating the vile slander (libel). We’re also lucky that the kids sleep really soundly, as proven when Andru bet us that they wouldn’t wake up no
matter what we did.
They did actually stir eventually, but what did we expect was going to happen?

When not trying to disturb the slumber of peaceful children, in Samosir the tourist is obliged to appreciate the crap out of the Toba Batak culture in very specific ways. The first is at Simanindo.
Here, one can appreciate the technical brilliance of the shuffling-home-drunk-from-the-pub traditional dance, and Chuckles enjoyed playing her favourite game of ‘starting a conversation with a rando, inviting Stinky in to help, then buggering off leaving Stinky stuck in the conversation.’
The dance hasn’t changed since 2012, unless you count this one dude who clearly misses his Xbox and is terminally bored – he couldn’t even muster any enthusiasm for the dance where he meets the woman of his dreams so gives her “a sum of money”!

 I don't want to be here either, buddy.

Here is a sum of money so I can marry you. You are boring.

I wonder if puppets can be bored like me...

You're boring, too.

I wish I were made of wood too.


Even the buffalo was less bored!
But fear not, spectator! If you grow restless, just take the opportunity to join in the dancing! Shuffle and bob around in a line like a local, whoo!

The next stop is Ambarita, with its megalith execution tables and row of traditional houses.

The houses are decorated with cicak lizards (for luck), and stylised boobies which our local guide explained in
detail represent the number of women who live in the house.

He went on a lot about the origin of the tradition (apparently if a young man wanted to get married, his mother would have to inspect the future daughter-in-law’s boobs to make sure they were big enough to feed babies, because yeah, that’s how boobs work). He kept giggling a bit and apologizing to us ladies for talking about the paps - don’t say sorry bitch, we got titties, we know how they work!

Anyhoo, next we parked ourselves on the great stone seats of judgement, cleverly tricking the Powder Monkey into sitting in the accused seat.
He was found guilty of being a spy for another village and promptly bunged in jail, where he was to be fattened up before the ritualistic execution that was his fate.
 It looked like heaps of fun being in jail, so some others caved in to peer pressure and did a stint, too.

 Prison chook is watching you, he is judging you hard and he will decide what will happen next.

Having been fattened up appropriately, the Powder Monkey was taken to the execution table to receive his sentence. He was blindfolded, cut (to draw out his magic), and beaten with a stick…
...then moved to the beheading stone, his jugular cut and blood collected in a bowl, then his head was finally whacked off with one blow and popped on another table.
Then he got cooked up and everyone got to eat some – much less wasteful that chucking the body in the lake (not least because that would always mean no one could use the lake water for a week, but it didn't stop them chucking the head in the lake anyway).

Being a very resilient young man, the Powder Monkey did actually recover well, and was able to carry out sentence on Moose (he’d been found guilty of being disgusting baggage).
The last Samosir Must-See Stop is Tomok, with its kings’ tombs. This time it came complete with a bunch of arrogant Jakarta business men, what a treat! It doesn’t matter how many times we have them explained to us, we can’t really figure out what makes them so unmissable – although we suppose it’s interesting to see the pre-and post-Christian traditions and there are some cool statues around…
…and if you like generic market stalls, boy are you in luck, cos they take up at least five times as much space in the surrounding area than the tombs themselves.

 We’d heard tell that up in the mountains there was a lake (making it a lake on an island in a lake on an island), but were entirely too lazy to go in search of it. Some of us spent the rest of that afternoon stocking up on Toba souvenirs while the others lazed about, swimming in the lake and pool. A cracking storm built up (we were driven from the swimming pool when we saw lightning strike somewhere out in the lake followed quite closely by a huge clap of thunder) and unsurprisingly knocked out power to the whole island. D'admiral reports being in the shower, shutting his eyes to rinse his hair and opening them seconds later to discover his world in profound darkness. However, unlike in Australia, where we lose our minds when the lights go out, the Samosirites just shrugged, got out their generators and candles and power carried on as usual – the WiFi didn’t even go off!
 So we enjoyed our atmospheric last supper and the next day boarded a slightly larger ferry back to the mainland.
The slog back to Medan is always fairly demoralising, in that it goes forever and ever and ever. In an effort to break it up the endless palm tree, rubber and cacao plantations, we stopped for lunch in the historic city of Pematang Siantar, at the Hotel Siantar. We know it’s historic because it was built in 1912. We also know that, just like in 2012, we were the only people in the giant banquet room (they even gave us the same table!)
Stinky was amused by the children’s ride in the nearby park – kids might enjoy riding in a car going slowly and being stuck behind another car, but to us that just sounds like another standard day being stuck in Indonesian traffic.
Dusk had arrived by the time we made it back to Hotel Deli River but we didn’t let that stop us falling face first into the pool, we’d been waiting for it all day, dammit!
That evening we reacquainted ourselves with Eli, one of the staff we befriended in 2012. Her friends hung shit on her for being old, but we were all exactly the same as last time…
and the next day made a last-ditch effort to stimulate the local economy. The ladies ditched the gentlemen at the hotel to dash around the Sun Plaza – the boys weren’t invited, because they’d have been super-bored, but amazingly, we found a mannequin of the Powder Monkey anyway! 
A lot of the shops weren’t open yet (or the air-con, boo), but the supermarket was, and that was enough
to make us happy!
We liked this sign – it is in very good Indonesian, so I don’t know why they want us to apologise for our inconveniences!
Erwin went back and picked up the lads, and our last hurrah in Sumatra was a city tour (pronounced ‘schitty tour’) of Medan’s highlights. Poor old Medan, the weather is stinking hot and you’re really just a stopping place, but you do have a pretty mosque. We’d been counting mosques as we travelled around (we stopped counting at 120 when we all fell asleep on the way back to Medan), so it was really about time that we went into one.
Appropriately attired, we were proudly shown around by a local guide who was very keen to tell us where all the different materials came from. Pye got to practise her attentive-listening face a bit more.
In the early 20th century the local sultan was starting to get a bit shitty with the Dutch colonisers and to placate him they built the grand mosque, so there’s a lot of European tiles and marble and glass and stuff. This information was interesting the first time the guide pointed it out. And even the second time.

Down the road is the palace of said irritable sultan, whose family still lives there today. It was supposed to be open, but in classic Indonesian style was shut because of Reasons.
We contented ourselves by looking at the outside and getting photos with like, every local who happened to be hanging around.
All that Medan had left for us was some interesting colonial architecture, such as this post office…
 … and a very agreeable last supper lunch at the Tip Top restaurant, an establishment that’s been around since 1934, then hotfooted it to the airport nice and early, because if we were going to have to just hang around anyway, it was better to do so in air-conditioning. 

We enjoyed finding personal links on various signs, like the airport Cotton On and Garuda cutouts…
 … and then pretty much flaked out. 
Overnight flights are good for sleeping and the flight home and arrival was blessedly free of complications, and everyone made it home to their respective domiciles, whoo hoo! We got to sleep, sleep some more, wake up, roll over and sleep again, so everyone was happy!

Herein endeth the Great Sumatran Adventure of 2017, whooo!

July 2017


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