HEART OF TOBA OFFICIAL MOVIE
priyo utomo is a pioneer in sea kayak adventure in Indonesia his profession is a sea kayak guide in raja ampat, belitung, and lake toba he made me see the irony, that indonesia is a tropical archipelago which is a sea kayaking heaven where the majority of the people do not know about sea kayaking the roon island video kayak expedition, was our first project which is the first sea kayak expedition video that were made by indonesians. funny thing is, even though it is called sea kayaking, it turns out that he started exploring in a lake; lake toba. this time priyo asked me to document his pilgrimage to the lake that made him a kayaker priyo brought his mentor, nigel foster nigel foster is an englishman and a legend in the world of kayaking sea. he is a kayak trainer, kayak designer and kayak equipment designer, writer of kayaking books, and of course of adventurer he explored with priyo in misool Raja Ampat, before we kidnapped him to join the toba adventure it was cloudy the day we landed the scenery at the airport reminded us that we’re entering a caldera what we do when landing in Toba ? first and most important: good coffee! team can prepare and brief with good supply of caffeine and the comfort of Piltik Coffee a cofee shop owned by indonesian legendary corporate photographer, edward tigor siahaan.
I think Kristin and Nigel had Coffee Latte, and when they drink it they said it’s so good, It’s just the best Coffe Latte they ever had for this expedition we brought entourage in the west people likes solitary expedition. Us in asia? the more the merrier. Kristin, Nigel’s wife, Swina, Priyo’s wife, they are experienced kayakers Saleh and Ade are leaders in the first sea kayak community in indonesia. Ally, photographer from malaysia, Harriet, scientist from seattle and Amang Saut Hutauruk, one of the diaspora Batak community that support us priyo’s hypothesis is that the culture in the coast of lake toba is close to paddling activities.
like northwestern native american culture or inuit culture which has the arts of boating and paddling. proving this hypothesis is the mission of priyo and nigel. but we will not let Nigel get away without teaching us his kayaking tips.
in America and Europe, Nigel Foster sea kayak courses are quite in demand. we started to launch from the city of balige which is right on the coast of lake toba. in Balige, tb Silalahi Museum welcome us with Batak Toba ceremony and music. for Nigel, Kristin and Harriet.this is their first exposure to all Batak aesthetics. afterwards we look at the artefacts at the Museum this sort of ceremonies are from a pre-christian era and it is not a hedonistic celebration there is supposed to be a sacred tone, should be But at the last parts, those sacred aspects become happier Because everyone was dancing or manorTor-Tor together in the museum I didnt find many paddling artifacts there were some displays with photos, black and white photos from an era when Batak people were paddling but it wasn’t explained or put in special display special for paddle culture or paddle activities from the museum we went down to the coast and trained by Nigel to efficiently control the kayak children Toba happily, ehm, help us training. the first day of the paddling from Balige to Sibandang island.
not all used a kayak, Ade Satari paddled the s.u.p board. as it has been estimated, not too far paddling from Balige, Nigel and Priyo have started to meet people on Solu (canoe). made from joined plastic jerrycans. he was the first fisherman that we met that used the Solu that I was about to greet, but I swear he looked so sour when we paddle to him, maybe he felt disturbed that we get so close...so we didnt greet we’re gonna have lunch, the owner is Tigor’s friend on the next paddling towards Sibandang island, the wind increased.
the boat keeps going here and there with the currents flying it relatively easy, landing the drone was hard for me, Nigel and Kristin who used to paddle for weeks on end, for me that kind of weather make us not sleepy, so we were happy Sibandang island used to be called Pardopur Island. Sibandang is actually the only inhabitted island in Toba Samosir? Samosir was a peninsula, and only become an island when the Dutch built a canal in Pangururan. we stay at some locals’ house. the house is still traditional. it’s a warm Island, we were welcomed very friendly, and they offer us mangoes because it was a mango season, and one of the old lady said, if you eat the mango you must eat with its skin Ulos is a woven fabric typical to Batak culture, not just the culture of Batak Toba. Batak consist of Batak Karo, Pakpak Dairi, Simalungun, there are several branches of Batak Their common principle is the Dalihan Na Tolu creed But there’s another common ground among the Bataks Ulos Ulos are woven fabrics In Sibandang they still produce their own Ulos Sibandang is not the only place to produce it’s own Ulos but they have a typical pattern in Sibandang Ulos We bid farewell to Sibandang people and paddled to Bakkara.
Off the coast of Sibandang we have seen some Solus or boats made from plastic jerrycans again, used by simple fishermen. priyo always said that Bakkara was cove with a big mouth, and it’s mouth were guarded by fearsome spirits. We said Hi to several Solu paddlers and voila! we entered the mouth of Bakkara. Bakkara is a significant place in the history of Toba since the existence of sisingamangaraja dynasty around the 17th century. the authority of sisingamangaraja dynasty is not from the conquering powers, like feudal kingdoms, but spiritual. he was considered a half-god who could communicate with the higher realm.
we enter into the mouth and was greeted by the hills that looks like a hallway Joining us in Bakkara is Iman Situmorang one of the sons of indonesian legendary poets, sitor situmorang. Iman’s and his father Sitor’s family are not only important in the history of indonesian literature. they are the brides-giver (hulahula) of the Singamangaraja Clan During the war of Singamangaraja 12 against the Dutch, Iman’s grandfather is the right hand man of the Half-God king.
Aside from that Iman himself is also an adventurer. the site that’s called Tumbak Sulu-Sulu, it’s got to do with the legend of Singamangaraja origin When his mother conceived him, the first time she got the blessing from the gods was there in the cave in the midst of Tumbak Sulu-Sulu forest. we had to go barefoot and all the surface of the ground were sharp rocks If you’re not used to it its so painful, you have to go slowly and it’s not a level way that we go there, so...
we go up and down, and it’sdangerous because it’ dark Priyo used to tell me that during his first visit to Bakkara when he’s leaving, dozens of eagles escorted him Unfortunately not that day. either Priyo was talking nonsense or the Eagles decided to wake up late going away from Bakkara we started to see the western walls of Toba so steep but very beautiful Batak Toba people actually come from this west side, and then spread to other places.. I’m pretty sure that the Batak people is spread out by paddling Not too many story that day other than paddling along a very beautiful landscape this is what we need our paddling destination today : Harian Boho it’s the village of Sitor Situmorang and he wrote beautiful poems about the village moreover Harian Boho located at the foot of Batak Toba’s sacred mountain Pusuk Buhit Through Iman Situmorang we were invited to visit the house of the Raja of Tamba Clan When we visit this Tamba house we were complained because we brought our own lunch We didn’t want to trouble them, but it seems it’s impolite to them from there Iman Situmorang started to paddle He wants to reach his home village by paddling I’m very much inspired by Sitor Situmorang’s poetry so if I’m doing this expedition I must visit Sitor Situmorang’s village, Harian Boho lake Toba is way up on a mountain, but we went far up and away from the coast of the lake. during the old days when they make the solu boats mostly from logs and they dug them out to create one boat. The Lintong forest, where the origins of the Situmorang clans of Lintong, it used to be a huge forest that used to be the source for the wood to make the solus. It was a forest so huge and dense that Singamangaraja during guerilla war able to hide from the Dutch and they couldnt find them.
But now the conditions are, well, because they’re no Industrial plantation, so…. you can watch it yourself on the footage a land that’s so vast but the trees are gone, cut down, and replaced by other trees. So it’s really sad. I can imagine how the Lintong Forest used to look like after lunch we visited the mountains around Sianjur Mula-Mula. sianjur mula-mula according to the mythology of batak toba is the first village of Batak human. the first Batak man, or Raja Batak.
this is all related to the creation myth in Batak Toba mythology according to the myth of creation in ancient batak nation, the world is consisted from the upper world, the central world, and the under world. in the upper world or the sky, lived a princess or the boru Deak Parujar She was the daughter of Batara Guru, the highest god. princess deak parujar is a weaving expert, and is the almighty weaver. as she grown up, Deak Parujar was betrothed to Putra Mangalabulan. but because her fiance were hideous, Deak Parujar rejected him.
the rejection was the first rejection in the sky. Deak Parujar felt that she must go away from the sky The middle world and the underworld was still a mystery for the princess how to get down to the middle world ? the expert weaver throw one of her thread far below holding the thread she comes down to the dark world beneath. Once arrived at the end of the thread, she cannot feel anything but restless and wavy waters and no land to stand because the princess were scared, her father called her to come back to the sky but the Princess insist in coming down, so the god threw fistful of clay for the princess to put her foot on that clay fell on the water and grew to be a land.
and this land grew to be the beautiful earth Because it was so beautiful the princess became fond of singing and dancing that first bit of clay that she landed became the tip of a mountain, Pusuk Buhit but then the Princess grew lonely down came her fiance, Mangalabulan. This time the Princess didn’t reject him. and they became the first couple on earth Their children established the first village Sianjurmulamula, exactly below the foot of Mount Pusuk Buhit night at Harian Boho you can say you’ve been in Toba many times but you have never really experienced Toba if you have not enjoyed a bonfire, sing and dancing Tortor with Toba people, facing the lake, without costumes, without sound system. pure expression of family spirit and the arts. that night we also bid farewell to Harriet who will be returning to seattle, u.s. making that party, we had help from my friend from the Sitohang family, she contacted her relatives and they came bringing Tagading, Serunai Bolon, and Hasapi. That night was a very lovely, warm, because the sky also support our party of music and dance and talk Samosir was not an Island but a peninsula, that was connected by a small neck like land The land was so narrow that the paddlers in the old days just portage their Solus across to get to the otherside here’s a construction so we had to experience what the old paddlers had, we must portage the kayaks across the land that day two Samosir boy scouts joined our team.
We’re grateful to have help from young stamina from these local boys when we passed the canal we also cross to the Samosir side. we said goodbye to the western wall that’s ancient, sacred, and very beautiful the sacred Mountain Pusuk Buhit stare at us majestically when we were on the coast of samosir, there is an interesting change. the solus that was on the shores of samosir were made of wood, dug out canoes in the western shores we only met the ones made of jerrycans.
it was a long paddling around the north face of samosir. we reached the camp at 10 pm. after breaking down the tent, we paddle in the tuk-tuk direction.
we stoped for lunch at simanindo. in Simanindo we visited the tombs of king of klan Sidauruk, beside it now a Museum and a homestay this museum is not as big as the museum in balige but there is something significant here. I was here maybe seven years ago with my wife, we can see Solu Bolon or large boat, King’s boat, finely ornamented. The keepers told us that two or three years ago there were a storm and the canopy above the boat collapsed and destroyed the Solu boat. Here we also enjoyed the traditional dance Luckily this time is a live Gondang music. We were received and accompanied by Tiolina Sinambela daughter in law of the Sidauruk clan She and her relatives now run the museum and a homestay the homestay is called Ruma Kaca We ate at the restaurant and visit her house Tiolina is also an excellent singer and musician She sang to us a song called "asingsingso" which apparently the lyrics are about paddling.
So the water is quite wavy now after lunch so we will continue and concentrate on paddling now we need some rest to recap what we had been through. while we’re at Tuk-tuk which means Peninsula Tuk-tuk is a favorite for international tourists. We had one more day in Tuk-tuk and we used it to visit sites from land. What we visit are quite a common destination in tourist itinerary, Huta Silagan in Ambarita, and Huta Sidabutar in Tomok. While Nigel and Kristin were paying attention to the guide, Priyo who’s been there a dozen of times try to look for something related to paddling Meanwhile in Sidabutar Swina had an interesting guide, because he seemed to be drunk. Beside the fact that they couldn’t find anything related to paddle activities, those place are the ones best preserved like other Huta’s of old clans.
Finally, paddling again. Although it was nice to stay in tuk-tuk, priyo, nigel, and Kristin are paddling creatures. They’re used to paddle long distances that day they will paddle quite far, to Onan Rungu in the Southern tip of Samosir. along the way they will be on the Samosir side and across they will face the Eastern shores of Toba, which not as dramatic as the western side different from the West, on the East, the traditional fishermens are replaced by big fishing companies, so we often met fish farm floating platforms Then someone calling us to the shore. There’s a restaurant and homestay in Silimalombu. It turns out that Priyo and Swina’s friend, Anette Sialagan calls us to stop by.
The place looks cool, but a very strong sour smell came from it. you can see a whole family laughing and standing on bucket full of mangoes We introduce ourselves to the owner of the place Ratnauli Gultom her face looked so familiar It turns out that I recognize her face from bottles of Mango wines in several stores in Balige and Tuktuk. I saw the tables are from Solus, wooden Solus Obviously it’s not used as Solus anymore. The put glass on top and became a table There’s several of them. After saying goodbye to that friendly house we continue to paddle we went to the least populated and beautiful area of that side.
At Onan Runggu we were received in our friend’s house but sadly our friend is unable to join But he kindly welcomed us to sleep in his ancestor’s house that was maintained very well. according to him this house is 250 years old and this is not a tourist spot or destination. The carvings were finely made and colored That night we entertain ourselves under the sky, and then slept in that courtroom like house before leaving Samosir and returning to Balige, finally Priyo, Nigel and Kristin must do one thing that has not happened paddling the Solu then the team crossed from onan runggu to balige. and our journey comes to an end our journey actually need to be longer in time and distance we just explored the Batak Toba culture Not yet Batak Karo, Simalungun, Pak Pak Dairi, Mandailing Many of our European friends were surprised that we did a two week journey in Lake Toba they didn’t realize the size of this lake In reality, to explore this lake completely, we might need three or even four weeks If we only race around and don’t visit every mysterious cove, historical sites, nice gardens, and friendly houses, we can do that in less than a week But that’s not explore kayaking that’s the Olympics It’s quite clear that in the past in Toba, paddling was a vital activity The act of paddling is actually part of the Batak Toba identity At least Batak Toba next trip we will explore how the paddle culture in other Batak groups, around Toba. We had to say goodbye to Nigel Foster and Kristin Nelson They are very impressed by the historical and cultural contents of our journey We will explore some more on next journey Looking for or perhaps also reminding the value and the art of paddling in Toba