Journey to the Heart of the Kings Land

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By: Magus Kutabarat –

After visiting the volcanoes in Karo land, Billy Bob wanted to see where the Batak legend began, at the most spectacular location in the region, Lake Toba. He had hitchhiked in many other countries, so Billy Bob decided to hitchhike from Berastagi to Samosir, the island on lake Toba where many tourists visited.

He only had to wait 10 minutes before a man named Sihombing driving a Toyota Kijang stopped. He told Billy Bob he was the first foreign hitchhiker he had ever seen.

Sihombing drove very fast, like almost everyone, no one was patient but everyone was tolerant. Billy Bob asked him if he was in a hurry.

“No, not really, but this is normal, but I can slow down if you like,” said Sihombing.

He said he worked for a local politician, organising business and campaigning.

Motorbikes raced past them then turned off the road quickly. Buses overtook them then stopped for passengers.

Billy asked why this was normal.

Sihombing laughed.

“Maybe they wanted to feel like king of the road. Every Batak man is his own king and no one should tell him how to do something, so our actions are like this. But we must respect everyone else in this way and not act arrogant, so everyone should be sociable. Even a woman is like a queen or princess, but family is family, and business is business. Of course, older people are more respected and so is the boss, but only up to a point,” said Sihombing.

He laughed again and said, “this is why we Batak people like to be politicians, government workers, lawyers, army and police, but you must still be a farmer on your own land sometimes.”

Sihombing had taught Billy Bob a good cultural lesson.

“So how about the bule?” he asked.

“We bule are supposed to be fair and moral, and can be proud of doing any job if you do it well, but its not always like this,” Billy Bob laughed also.

“Bule don’t always respect authority and often get angry or arrogant without good reason, especially the Americans,” Billy continued.

Sihombing said they were passing the old Simalungun King Purba House, now a museum since independence, so they have a history of sorrow. The huge Batak houses were impressive and the tugu grave looked like a ship to take the dead to the stars.

Sihombing was going to Siantar, so he left Billy Bob at the junction to Tigaras. A family stopped for him. They were going to a family party on Samosir. They said they always have to go even if the party is a long distance away.

From the hilltop Billy could see Lake Toba. It was so big he couldn’t see each end of the lake. He looked for the island and asked where it was. They pointed straight across. He thought he was looking at the other side of the lake, but that was the island, rising 200 meters high and 60 km long. He could hardly believe the size of it all.

They took a ferry across to Simanindo village, where Billy Bob got a ride on a motorbike to Tuktuk village, and found Liberta guesthouse on the lakeside. He was happy to arrive there… (to be continued)

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