Medan is the capital of North Sumatra province in Indonesia, located along northeastern-coast of Sumatra island. According to the local guide, it is the third largest city after Jakarta and Surabaya.
The climate was similar to Singapore when we arrived.
Period: 28 Apr – 1 May 2018 (4D3N)
Areas covered: Mount Sibayak, Two Color Waterfall, Bidadari Peak/Lake Toba and Sipiso Piso Waterfall
Day 1 – Arrival at Medan
It is about an hour flight from Singapore Changi Airport to the new Kualanamu International Airport. After waiting for bags and everyone to gather, we set off for the homestay around late afternoon in a minibus that carried all 14 of us, and our bags.
About two and half hours through the journey, we were brought to a sumptuous dinner that was already prepared for us. The famous Ayam Penyet at Cindelaras. Now, everyone is awake after a long day of travelling and freshened up by the spicy chilli sauce to go with the ayam penyet!
Upon our request, the local guide dropped us at a mini mart, as some of us wanted to top up their supplies of snacks and mineral water for the upcoming hikes. The cashier here was not able accept most of our big notes as they had limited small change to give us (I was given some sweets for the loose change of 900 Rupiahs, about SGD$0.09).
We continued for another hour on the road before we finally arrived at the homestay! It was chilly up in the mountain!
Once we chose our own rooms, we head in to settle down and get ready for our sunrise hike! There were limited hot water supply and a bucket of icy cold water, but we made do with it to wash ourselves up a little and head to bed! While some of us were catching up outside for some chit chat session. (Free Wifi is available when you purchase drinks from the Pub, otherwise, 4G connection still had strong connection up in the mountain).
Day 2 – Adventure begins
We headed off at 430am in the morning, and it was a short 10mins ride from the homestay to the site of Mount Sibayak. After our guide registered us, we had to walk up a steep cemented slope for about 20mins (approximately 2km) before we reached the base campsite of Gunung Sibayak. Along this route, there were some locals going up the slope on their motorbikes, so it wasn’t a great experience for any morning fresh air amidst the mountain. Nonetheless, the short walk was just a warm up! The hike began after the base campsite!
We began the climb at about 5am, about half hour to reach the base campsite and then another hour or so to reach the crater. The smell of the Sulphur bursting out from the mountain was rather pungent, and you wouldn’t miss it once you arrive at the campsite near the crater.
The smoke venting out from the ground was the sulphur, and along this route, you can also see the active Mount Sinabung. While Mount Sibayak has not erupted for more than a hundred year ago, the geothermal activity is considered active. There were quite a number of campers staying overnight here, and garbage were all over. I even saw an aged lady leaving her plastic cup behind among the bushes, right in front of me! There were no signboards to educate the public not to leave behind their rubbish although this looks like something we SHOULD know, definitely not in this part of the world yet?
I was the last (wo)man in the group, and the sun was already up high by the time I arrived. But it was still pretty awesome to see the layers of clouds and the mountainous view all around. You get a good view overlooking the town of Berastagi. There were a few great spots to take pictures and we spent a good amount of time up there taking selfies.
The total elevation for this climb was less than 500m, and the altitude at this peak was approximately 2033m at the highest point we reached. Sadly, there was no signboard to tell us that we have reached the peak, so we just did a group picture with Mount Sinabung as an evidence that we had been there! Total distance covered for this route was approximately 10km, completed in around 2.5hrs. Because the record was not taken from the time we start, so time and distance were taken in estimation only. Considerably easy for beginner to do this, other than the pungent smell that hinders your grasping for more air. I had my little breakfast before the climb, but not for the rest, so they were all pretty hungry by the time we finish the hike.
As we descend on the route back then we realized how much we have climbed! Amazing feat for those first-timers since they could not believe they have done it! On the way down, you can hear Siamang Gibbons “cheering” for you but we didn’t see them!
In the morning, from the homestay, you also get a view of Mount Sinabung. Lovely and quiet homestay area. We were back at the homestay waiting for breakfast at around 9am and waiting to check out at 1030am. Nasi goreng was our breakfast, together with the fragrant coffee and tea. I love the local tea powder, with a light floral aroma.
Right after breakfast and checking out from the homestay, we headed off to the Two-Color Waterfall at around 1130am. However, the local was rushing us to complete the hike fast – “No slow” was what he kept repeating throughout the journey. This time I was in front, right behind another local guide. I had to keep looking out for him without losing my group of hikers at the same time! He was really fast, especially when he’s carrying all our luncheon packets!
It was more trekking in the jungle on the roots of the trees with armies of ants crawling, lots of soft black mud and algae covered stones. There was no hot sun, but rather humid given the tropical rainforest condition. We had to be fast in order to reach our destination in time for lunch. Some of us slipped a couple times either into the soft ground or over the stones. For a beginner like my Sister-in-law, who had just did a short hike in the morning, this trek became tiring for her. We had a couple of pit stop to rest and for some to catch up. I had a lot of snacks to keep me going because I was really hungry. Ok, I was the only one eating and enjoying the trek at the same time, la! Total elevation was no more than 500m over a distance of 14km, and no major ascending ground other than one steep short drop climb before reaching the river. Some climbing expected among the rubble stone filled river before reaching the magnificent two-color waterfall to enjoy our nasi padang…!
It was cooling to be sitting near the waterfalls and enjoying the packet of nasi padang. Some guys went for the shiok shiok waterfall, while some ladies like myself go for a soothing foot spa. The water was icy cold, so it felt really good after a long walk the whole day and before we continue our way back out of the jungle. The turquoise blue color is due to the content of phosphorus and sulfur, and the source of this water fall comes from Mount Sibayak. This waterfall is also known as the Blue Lake Sibolangit.
We finally made our way out in the next 2.5hrs, that was already as quickly as our legs could carry us. My sister-in-law was already carrying her heavy legs over some stones already! Most of us were tired given that we all woke up at 4am in the morning. “Don’t worry, I will be here to hold you if you fall back” was the best motivation that I said to a fellow hiker that greatly motivated her to finish the last 5 minutes of the trek. 😊 Sometimes, the journey of the hike is more enjoyable than reaching the destination.
After the trek, everyone was extremely exhausted to even move their butt. Because no one wanted to even shower or clean up before we move on to our next destination, which is to camp overnight at Bidadari Peak! It cost us 2,000RPH to use the kampung-style-with-mountain-water showering facilities. I felt so sweaty and sticky, and I just wanted to wash up before I go for the overnight camping where there won’t be any toilet facilities. The water was super icy cold and free flowing from the mountain (I supposed), but it definitely soothe your aching muscles that you have had from the whole day of walking! Shiok! We carried on our journey to Bidadari Peak for our overnight camping experience. To do that, we sat for the next 4 hours of journey including dinner and a short hike of what seems like two hours but actually only 20 mins of walk and 100 metres of elevation. Since it’s all pitch dark, we head right to our tent and fell asleep right away. I woke up occasionally in the middle of the night from the strong wind blowing and the flat hard grounding. It was chilly, but our sleeping bag and windbreaker was more than enough to survive the night.
Day 3 – Overnight Camping at Bidadari Peak over Lake Toba
Most of us woke up between 4 to 5am in order to catch the sun rise. Well, as you can see, we all woke up to this beautiful Lake Toba on Bidadari Peak. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and we couldn’t see the egg yolk rising, but the view itself was breathtaking already. How often do we get such view, and especially after a whole day of leg work?
Some of us feeling more energetic one went up the peak to catch a glimpse of the whole area with 360 degree view; while some of us, the lazy ones, stayed behind and wait for our breakfast. The guides carried all of these tents and foods up for us, and also “chope” this camping ground with the best view of the lake. We had steamy hot coffee and that must-have cup noodles. Totally an outdoor camping experience on top of a hill. Ahhh~~~ My most memorable experience from this outdoor camping was my trip to enjoy the Mother nature toilet… Back to the nature, peeps!
Our last hiking destination was Sipiso-Piso Waterfall, a popular tourist attraction that takes about half an hour to complete, covering only 1.5km but with killer stairs. Sorry I was too tired to go down and up the stairs for this waterfall, so I gave it a miss! I only went halfway to enjoy the view and then back up to the bus before we head off for the next four hours of bus journey again to return to civilization in the busy Medan City. Along the way we had our lunch and it started to get really warm when we approached the city, no more of chilly mountain breeze. The guide also brought us to a famous local Chinese shop that sells the Ambon cake (Honey-Combed Tapioca Cake), it is really yummy! I wished I had bought more! We were stuck in the traffic jam for over two hours the moment we were in the city before we reached our hotel, so yes, we were stuck in the bus for six hours, with occasional stretch on our legs. We checked in to the budget hotel and came out right away for dinner at around 7am as we didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic again. Took us another half hour before reaching our dinner destination for nasi padang with grilled fish and chicken!! At our request, after dinner, we sincerely begged our local guide to bring us to a durian feast. And there we go, the local durian king! If you haven’t tried UCOK Durian, you haven’t been to Medan! It was a mixture of sweet, bitter, smooth, watery durian texture and aroma. Overall, it satisfied all those Durian lovers!
There was a short food street nearby our hotel, and some of us sneaked out for a walk after a heavy dessert. We continued to shop for snacks even when we have no more hike the next day. There were lots of yummy food along the street, we wondered why we had gone so far for dinner! And this was how we started and concluded our trip… food rewards.😊
Day 4 – Balek Kampung
Some of us never saw the daylight… because we took the wee early morning flight home la.
For upcoming adventures do check out : www.sgtrek.com/calendar