Epic Family Journey to My Father's Birthplace in Indonesia

Selamat Tahun Baru! Happy New Year! The Siregar’s began their New Year on the island of Sumatra, my dad’s birth place. On the first day of 2014 we landed in Medan, Indonesia, the capital of Sumatra. 
Jennifer, Toto and Jessica Siregar at Lake Toba

This day shall also be known as the day I lost my passport, twice! Once before I left the hotel in Jakarta and once as we waited for our baggage in Medan. After a 2 1/2 flight from Jakarta we landed in Medan and we’re immediately surprised as to how modern the airport was and how many people were at the airport, at what seemed they were just hanging out there. I immediately realized I left my passport and itineraries in the seat pocket on the plane and literally sprinted back just in time! About two minutes before it pulled back to fly again. Whew!! Setting us up for the turbulent ups and downs for what lied ahead…

We met our driver/guide named Saleh at the airport. We found out the airport was newly opened in August and because of New Year holiday, many people took their day off to check out the new airport. So they were just hanging out. Well the large amount of people certainly did not stop at the airport as a 3-4 hour drive turned into a 6-7 hour road trip packed with trucks, motor bikes, rubber trees, burning garbage and lots of playing chicken on the road with other SUV's to get us to Lake Toba  as quickly as possible. There were people everywhere! 

This journey was not for someone with a light stomach or those who may get car sick easily, like my sister. For those of you who remember my stories on www.thejeskimo.tumblr.com from the Siregar traveling orphan's Brazilian road trip- the “scenic coastal route” from Rio to São Paulo in 2011, this one had a similar feeling of traveling paved to unpaved, flat to mountainous roads through small third world villages on 60-90 degree incline and declines. As always, an adventure for the books or in my case, for the blog! 

The main reason for this specific journey was to visit the hospital and small village of Siantar, where my dad was born. Both of my Grandparents are from Sumatra and they met he when my grandfather was working for Singer, the sewing machine company. This island holds quite a few memories for my dad as he visited here in the summers throughout his childhood and had many family members who have passed long ago. This is his more than 50 year return! He quickly realized that everything has changed, grown and his small village is now a extremely populated city.

Top photo is Siantar in 1964 (credit: Wikipedia)
Bottom photo is Siantar in 2014
After over 9 hours of traveling (2 in the air and 7 in the car) we arrived at Toba Lake. A place our dad said his parents would “drag” him to go for vacation and similarly and ironically he was doing the same with us. Through the rough road conditions and some stomach aches, the lake and the mountains were breathtaking! Truly a very peaceful place. There must always be a journey in order to arrive at the most gorgeous places to see in the world. This was definitely one of those instances. We arrived at Hotel Niagara in Parapat, Sumatra on Toba Lake Indonesia at 10 p.m. after leaving Jakarta at noon that day. Parts Unknown eat your heart out! 

The next morning, my yoga and meditation practice was one of my most unique and fulfilling of my nine years practicing. Talk about staying present! I've been off the grid for three days now and as I start to breath it all in, I sneezed it out and either jet lag or my sister’s old cold caught me. I slept most of the afternoon until the next morning. Coming up next, Bali, Indonesia! 

This blog post came from www.thejeskimo.tumblr.com from January 1, 2014. You can contact Largay advisor, Jessica Siregar, to find out about Indonesia via email at jessica@largaytravel.com or phone at 1-888-632-2660. 

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