A visit to Lake Toba is not complete without a stay on Samosir Island. Situated in the huge crater lake of Toba in North Sumatra, the island of Samosir together with its surrounding areas is the heart of the Toba Batak culture. For a breath of fresh lakeside air, Samosir Island delivers one healthy laid-back dose. Let’s get started with some of the best things this island has to offer.
1. Shop ‘till you drop at Tomok Market
Start at the market and learn something new about this exotic island. Experience the sights, the taste and the smell in their everyday life and you will feel just like a local. Tomok itself is a traditional village, best known as the gateway and introduction to Samosir. Many shops in the main street and stalls bordering the alleyways sell many of the same things that can be found in the traditional market – a variety of tropical fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, various dry fish, meat and spices. Tomok market is also considered a good spot for spectacular photo opportunities.
2. Satisfy Your Hunger with Mie Gomak
Mie Gomak is a traditional curry noodle dish of the Batak Toba. Mie literally means noodle and Gomak is native for ' digomak’, which means preparation by hand. There are two ways to prepare this dish – in broth or fried. The noodle is pale orange, quite thick and square-cut. The curry is red, flavorful, smooth but not too spicy. The dish is served alongside condiments such as kerisik (grated dry-fried coconut) and sambal andaliman (a chili sauce made from a local Batak pepper) and a boiled egg can sometimes be requested as a topping. The best time to consume Mie Gomak is in cold weather as the tasty spices will warm the body
3. Set new trend : wear an Ulos
Ulos is a typical traditional woven fabric that symbolizes the bond of affection between parents and children or, between a person and others. Ulos has a symbolic function for a variety of aspects in Batak life and different kinds in color and motifs of ulos have different ceremonial significance. Ulos is usually worn in traditional rituals from birth to marriage to funerals. Batak people wear it on their heads, shoulders, lower torso and around their body. Depending on the fabric, a piece of Ulos ranges in price from IDR 25,000.00 – IDR 5,000,000.00.
Nowadays, traditional fabrics like Ulos in trendy designs have become the latest upmarket fashion in Indonesia.
4. Learn how to Dance the Tor Tor
Tor Tor is a traditional dance of the Batak ethnic group. The name 'Tor Tor’ is derived from the sound of communal pounding of feet made when groups of people engage in this dance. Normally Tor Tor is accompanied by ceremonial music using instruments such as the gondang. At festive events, the rhythm of music is more upbeat and cheerful compared to the more solemn ceremonies such as funerals.
Each movement of the Tor Tor dance is associated with a profound meaning and incites emotion and interaction among participants of the ceremony. In every wedding ceremony of the Batak ethnic group, the bride and groom are required to perform a Tor - Tor dance as is customary. The dance movement is mostly in the fingers and an Ulos is worn over the shoulder of every dancer.
5. Biking Around Samosir
Biking across the Samosir countryside is a good way to explore the beauty of the island. The path along the mountain from Ambarita to Tomok is a sight for sore eyes although the parts of the roads can be quite bumpy. The further up the hill the more stunning and amazing the landscape becomes as rice fields and lakeside views will surely take your breath away. Renting a bike is quite easy as there are many places that offer bike rentals. The price to rent a bike may vary, starting from IDR 30,000.00/day.