Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Heaven and Hell ( almost ) ! Part 1

This story took place in December 1983, almost a quarter of a century ago. The setting was Sumatra, Indonesia. Our two lovely kids D3 and D4 were looking forward to this trip very much.
It was to be their 1st ever trip overseas by plane. And it would only be the 2nd country they have visited, Malaysia being the 1st. Predictably, they were counting the days to actual departure and boarding our very own Singapore Airlines boeing jet...and experience flight for the very first time. It was also a trip that D2 and I felt most happy about as we were travelling together as a family, on a fabulous vacation to a fabulous place....Lake Toba.
The whole journey would last 5 days.
From Polonia Airport, Medan our tour coach from Worta Holidays Ltd, would travel to Berastagi, then to Sipiso Piso waterfalls, to Simalungun (the Batak King's Palace ) and finally to Parapat. The next few days were wonderful as we explored the lake which is the largest volcanic lake in the world. It is 100 km by 30 km in size and reaches a depth of 505 metres. Another little known fact......Lake Toba is actually 906 metres above sea level. In the centre of the lake is an island called Samosir which is roughly the size of Singapore !
D3 and D4 truly enjoyed the food, breathtaking scenery, language, songs, culture and history of the various towns and places visited. And all of us enjoyed shopping as the exchange rate of the S'pore dollar to the Indonesian rupiah allowed us to buy more than we can get, back home.

While we were at Parapat, by the Lake, we went shopping in our free time. D2 and the kids bought haversacks, bags, clothes, a lampshade, souvenirs etc. I had a good buy of 3 lovely batik shirts.
Top photo: Typical Batak houses

Lower photo: The clothes shop at Parapat with the owner.
Bottom photo: King's Palace at Simalungun
Next to this shop was a shop selling antiques. I have always been fascinated by history and the very nature of antiques is based on their past life and hidden history. I walked in and was confronted by many articles of interest. But the piece that caught my attention was an antique Flintlock Blunderbuss. It looked very old and was genuine, though not in mint condition. I could see a screw that was holding the firing mechanism, that was not originally part of the firearm. My conclusion then was that it is a real antique but not 100%...maybe close to 99 % [ the added modern screw ] . Otherwise, it was a most interesting collector's item with a very high value. I estimated the age of the gun to be at least 300 years old. Of course, it would not fire anymore although all the parts were intact mostly. I asked the boss to name me a reasonable price. He did not do so. Instead, he asked me to give him a price. In case you are not aware, this process is another method of " taking stock"of guessing what that item was of value ( can be very BIG! ) to me, personally.
The antique shop address written down by the owner himself can be seen here [ inset].
Our 5 days in lake Toba was Heaven ! But Hell was soon to come at departure for home, at Medan Airport. Catch the scary but true dramatic events in part 2 of the story soon.

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