Thursday, May 24, 2012

more lake toba, indonesia

Lake Toba is home to the Batak people, a minority group who inhabit the island of Samosir and surrounding areas. Their iconic 'pointy' dwellings dot the area, with intricate carvings and stunning details. Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim nation (in fact, the largest in the world), however the Batak are Christians, having been converted by missionaries many moons ago. They are incredibly warm and welcoming, and it was interesting see the gradual change from Mosque to church as we drove through the country-side up to Toba.

Being a textile designer, one of my passions when travelling is collecting and learning about the local textile traditions. I asked around if we could perhaps meet a local weaver and was soon pointed in the right direction. Off Sarah and I cycled, hoping to find what we were looking for. We were very fortunate to meet the most gorgeous woman, who sits outside under a lush tree with her loom, weaving ulos'. An ulos is a traditional Batak textile that is woven especially for wedding ceremonies, where they are placed around the necks of the bride and groom. They are beautiful, filled with many colours and incredibly detailed geometric shapes. I found out from our new weaving friend that they take her a week to make.
It was so inspiring to just sit and watch her weave, line by line, creating a stunning piece with her own hands. It's a tradition and artform that I really have a lot of respect for and that always blows me away.
Sarah and I both bought a couple of her pieces - which now hold extra significance having witnessed her weaving.

Unfortunately, we had to wrap our trip up here and sadly head home. In my next post I'll share some of Andrew's photos from his time in Sumatra and a very brief wrap up on our short and very sweet stay in Indonesia.

an ulos in production


Batak carvings

can you spot the cat?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

lake toba, indonesia:

After a day in Jakarta with our men, we said farewell, and Sarah and I flew to the northern Sumatran city of Medan (the guys flew to southern Sumatra for some waves). From there it was a four hour drive through small villages, palm oil plantations and forests up to Lake Toba, where we then took an hour long ferry ride to the island of Samosir.

Lake Toba is the largest freshwater lake in South-East Asia, being created by a ginormous volcano explosion thousands of years ago. The lake is the size of Singapore and right in the middle is the island of Samosir, with the idyllic town of Tuk Tuk being our destination.

As Lake Toba is little higher up (approximately 900m), amongst volcanoes and rolling hills, it is refreshingly cooler then the heat and humidity of Medan. 
Tuk Tuk is a small town placed on a little peninsula and the perfect place to relax and take in the serene surroundings. Sarah and I hired some mountain bikes and went riding on the quiet roads. It was a great way to see this beautiful area, with super friendly locals and lots of amazing landscape to take in. We barely saw any tourists, which at times felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. 

Next: more from gorgeous Lake Toba including some textile goodness!

waiting at parapat for our ferry

on the ferry

super moon!

Batak architecture

mie goreng

more Batak details


that there on the left is my dream house

Monday, May 14, 2012

jakarta, indonesia:

Aaaand we're back. A little before schedule, however, unfortunately Sarah and I had to return early to attend the funeral of our incredible grandmother :( 
Instead of two weeks in Indonesia and Malaysia we had about five days away, spending time in Jakarta and Lake Toba in northern Sumatra. Although short, it was still a great little break, and has got me very excited about returning in the near future. I did come away a little besotted to say the least. I'll be posting photos up of these two place in the next few days.

First up, Jakarta. 

Jakarta was really just a stepping point for us to get to Sumatra, however we were keen to get out and about, and try to discover a bit of this massive, sprawling city. It was actually better than I expected. The first thing that struck me was how green and leafy it was. All the streets are lined with beautiful tropical trees and plants (which I just adore). We stayed in the lovely Menteng area which  is full of gorgeous colonial homes and more leafy streets. It was a really nice area to walk around and explore. We then headed to northern Jakarta to check out the historical Kota area which is home to Fatahillah Square - an old square surrounded by old colonial Dutch buildings and then onto the Sunda Kelapa docks. All in all, Jakarta isn't a bad city to spend some time in, you just might need to dig a bit deeper to find some of its hidden gems. 

Next: stunning Lake Toba, Sumatra.

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