Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Big North Sumatera Adventure Part III

Continued from here

Simanindo is another part of Samosir Island. Here, we sat down under a small house-like structure to watch a local traditional dance. The dance itself had 7 steps and while at that time we actually had a paper explaining each step to us, the paper is nowhere to be seen now. Yes, I had not taken notes during this travel because I didn't want to get all touristy, and just wanted to sit back and relax, so I'm afraid there's not much information here. ONE thing I can tell, though is that at the end of the dance, the dancers will beckon you to join them in their dance. My two left feet trembled in fear. Would it be polite to decline? Could we just run away? Thankfully, it started drizzling there and then, and me and my two left feet, (as well as the sister and her two left feet) were saved from having to dance, and the dancers were saved from having to witness the worst dancers ever. So, it was a win-win situation.
The dance. It was still shining at this point before the rain saved us all.

We travelled a bit for lunch as most places were closed. It was Sunday, after all. The guide finally found us a place to eat at what looked like a restaurant run by a family. The proprietors were lovely people, and the food was excellent. Here's where we got to try the goldfish from the lake. It was simply delicious, although cooked in a very simple manner.

It may be called a goldfish, but it's definitely not a pet swimming happily in a bowl. I hope.
After lunch, we moved on again to yet another spot on the island, Ambarita. Now, if you're familiar with stories from the area, you might have heard of the Batak people, who at some point were labelled cannibals. And like all stories, the act of cannibalism here was grossly exaggerated, unfortunately. Here in Ambarita, we were told how it was, sans exaggeration. For instance, the acts of cannibalism are not random acts performed on unsuspecting strangers who accidentally stumble upon the path of these people, instead, it is a form of punishment to the vilest of criminals - usually unforgivable crimes involving dark magic, and it only happened in the really old days. 

Basically, when you enter Ambarita, you are met with the tribal village square, where the elders tried the criminal. Behind the square are a few houses, a model of how it was back in the old days
Ambarita: The houses at the background, and the tribal square in the foreground. The tiny chair covered by the box is where the accused criminal sits while the elders mull over his or her crimes.

After the trial, the criminal is brought over to the place where punishment commences. Our guide did a really good demonstration on how it was done, and I should have taken a video, but I had to conserve my phone battery as we had lost our luggage which had all of the chargers. And because I stupidly didn't take notes, I'd forgotten most of what was said.

The tools used during the execution of the criminal and where it is done

Just a few years ago, Lake Toba and the surrounding areas were very popular destinations. These days however, the number of visitors has dwindled and this has apparently affected the livelihood of the locals, especially those whose bread and butter relies on the tourism factor. This was really quite a sad thing, as you can see the ladies in the stalls practically begging you to buy something off them. Though the prices of the things they are selling are relatively cheap, there's only so much souvenirs you can buy before you run out of people to buy them for. 

We headed back to the hotel for the rest of the evening


  1. The idea of the execution area is chilling to me.

    And goldfish? I guess it never occurred to me that those might be made into dinner.

  2. Seeing the people there these days, it's hard to believe it was ever part of their custom.

    Hehe, and I thought it was weird at first too. I think it's known as Cyprinus carpio - a relative of the goldfish


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