Friday, September 26, 2008

Fertile hills of Berastagi

At 1400m above sea level, surrounded by steaming volcanoes and enjoying good rainfall, the Karo highlands around Berastagi are the food bowl of North Sumatra. There are vegetables growing up every slope, flowers and plants in abundance and an exuberant market every day. As usual I had a ball taking photos of all the brilliant colours and textures to be found. Out in the country every piece of dirt is planted with some vegetable or another. But there are also some forest plantations (looked remarkably like eucalypts to me!) and a few natural sights. One is Sipisopiso falls, where the water comes rushing out of an underground cave and falls 120m into a small stream which flows into Lake Toba.In my enthusiasm I climbed a nearby hill to get a good view of Toba from the north, it being my next destination.Another, and larger, volcano called Sinabung can also be climbed, but I decided I'd had enough of all this sweaty exercise for a while so I just visited the tranquil lake at its base.
The Batak were converted to Christianity from their original animist beliefs. This means lots of cute churches dot the countryside and the restaurants are still open during Ramadan. Huge sigh of relief!
Evenings at Berastagi were spent eating at the numerous foodstalls which set up on the pavement each evening, with barbequed fish being a favourite. For dessert I discovered some new sweets, putubamboo (a sort of steamed rice dumpling with a palm sugar centre and sprinkled with coconut and sugar) and martabak ( a thick pancake) filled with black rice and chocolate. No chance I'll be losing any more kilos for a while!!
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