Monday, February 11, 2008

We're going places (Part 5) - What a trip!'s been exactly a week since our return from the trip to Danau Toba, but I think I just recovered from it. It was more exciting and challenging compared to Padang-Bukittinggi that I decided to blog about it first.

I embarked on the trip with a lot of worries, but I tried hard not to make it obvious. When it comes to travelling, hubby is always well-prepared. He helps in planning but not for the trip. I had only booked a hotel for the first night there in Medan as I was not sure of how the fieldwork was like. Remember it was a geological fieldtrip. No car for transportaion was booked, no hotel in Parapat and hubby kept reminding me that it could be crowded there as it was nearing the Chinese New Year holiday.

I was worried that the kids were in the trip, I was more worried that our two co-researchers were there too. I just kept praying.

And Alhamdulillah...thing turned out to be just fine and pleasant, works done and it is such a magnificent place. I have little regrets though for making it short, kids complained of not being able to take a dip in the lake.

We arrived at the hotel in Medan at about 10 pm Friday and arrangement for trasportation was made right away. We rented a Kijang (Toyata Innova) and a supir (driver).

The map is the best I found to illustrate what we actually did in that 3 days.

We started from Medan on Saturday morning, we passed Berastagi and reached Sipisopiso waterfall at noon. It was almost at the northern tip of the lake, not shown in the map. That was the first sight of Danau Toba we had. It was simply breathtaking. We were about 1400 m above sea level and below us winding roads towards the lake shore, which is at the elevation of 900 m. We found sampling site right away and did some work.

We drove towards to southeast to Harangoal, which is at the shore and did more work. Went back to Sipisopiso as the leader of the project ('s me) thought that she had forgotten her precious notebook there.

Sidenote: She found it later in her laptop case, that she didn't had a chance to open at all during the trip. She found it at home. Have not tell hubby about it, I'd let him find out here..hehe!

Anyway, that drive didn't go to a total waste (still feel guilty about it, of course) as we went to Tongging, near Sipisopiso for some sampling. It was dark and windy and drizzling, so we decided to move ahead to Parapat.

The driver was not sure to drive straight along the lakeshore as he said it could be dangerous as the weather was bad, a lot of fallen trees incidents. We took a detour to Permatang Siantar first. Had Nasi Padang dinner there, we reached Parapat around 11 pm and collapsed!

And we woke up to a spectacular view of the lake as our room just at the shore. I cursed a little bit as we had to go to the field but prayed that we were able to return early for some fun. Well it just didn't happen.

Started the day a bit late, we moved to Porsea and up towards the northeast to Siguragura near Asahan valley. It is a huge canyon, with waterfalls cascading through the thick green cover of vegetation. Magnificent!

Had lunch in Porsea, passed Balige and moved a bit to the west side of the lake to Muara. We got carried away here, the weather reminded me of home, said our UK guest. Spent a bit of time there, the view was just spectacular I didn't want to leave, though it was drizzling a bit. At a stop, I just cuddled Adel for some warmth.

We reached the hotel around 8 pm, it was just too dark to play in the water. I had my alpokat fix that night, introduced durian to our guest, bought some grilled corns.

After a lot of discussion (and little arguments, too!), we decided to experience Samosir Island even though time was short as we had a flight to catch in Medan. Took the ferry to Tomok, passed Pengururan in the west of the island, with a few stops for field observations. The most memorable thing about this trip to me is the road from here to Sidikalang. It is a winding road all the way from the shore with the view of the lake and the island above me. Pics would describe better, me thinks!

I thought I was in some postcards!

We passed Kabanjahe, and made a stop in Berastagi for alpokat and some batik. We reached the airport just on time to check-in at about 7 pm.

More pics coming up, and I'd rave more on why I love the place. It's cheap, it is less developed so the nature is intact and during my stay it is not as crowded as I had imagined. Well, I will try to avoid writing about how the geology amaze me, just did that during a lecture today.

Now, isn't it good to think that I'm being paid to do all this;).

And I hope its not too late to wish those who are celebrating, Happy Chinese New Year. Till then...tata!

Friday, February 01, 2008

We're going places (Part 4) - It's Danau Toba now

I've been up since 5 am and was torn between getting started to pack, or doing more research for the trip, or reading more material about the work or updating the blog. I've been doing the 'lipas kudung' act for days, luckily I normally start the day at the office late and have the lunchtime with the kids. That's what make me rejuvenated every time I thought that I wanted to drop everything.

We welcomed a co-researcher from the UK yesterday, praying that he would have the patience as he is a father of two young kids, we brought him to dinner last night. He is such a nice guy, telling me over and over that he is ok with kids, he would be happy with whatever that I've planned during his stay.

To me, the plan trip to the UK is still very much a plan. I'm still considering if it will be worth it, I mean I can just send a student to do the job and put the money aside for something else, getting more in the piggy bank to have something bigger than our current shoebox, maybe;).

But, this guy has started to give me ideas, and tell people of the plan to have me there. Can't help myself but to imagine how it would be like, must be nice, that's all I can think off now. Still, the best thing it is up to me to decide.

Well, still have time to think about it. He just did a seminar yesterday, we will be heading to Medan today. We will return on Monday night. Someone from the other U persuaded me to get him to talk at his place, so a little change of plan. He will do it on Wednesday. We will be doing fieldwork here, I mean part of Perak during the holiday.

A good friend, someone who introduced me to my husband, the best man during the wedding, who was with us during all the births of the kids, is having a wedding in Sabah on next Saturday. I just think that it would be out of mind to miss that. I even have a plan to do day-trip, and even suggested to hubby to invite our guest to experience it. Well, again, that's just a plan

More "lipas kudung" act ahead for me. But I'm more excited, a little jittery as always. Here's a pic to share, I asked Bea1 to help packing for our previous trip and this is what I get:
It's cute, isn't? One of the reasons I just love doing this with them.

Off to packing now, when it is still quiet and without the 'help'. And feels nice to finally express here.

Wish us luck...and thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!