Confessions of A Nasi Kukus Eater
Like a rooster, I rose earlier than the sun. Through bright and dark times of the day, I wore my RayBan faithfully. With a bare face I dashed to the airport to meet Patrick, my high school mate since Class 2001, dressed in an all-blue jersey material from top to toe looking strikingly sporty; like he was ever ready to make a helluva trip out of the long weekend we managed to salvage after Nepal’s shocking earthquake. Inevitably, our faces were labeled in bold: Sleepy Heads.
We found ourselves on a piece of land that looked like it was made out of scavenged parts of Sumatera. Had our stomachs not growled like beasts, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t have lunch in front of what looked like a chair for the deceased, but was actually a taxi stand. Horas Resto, was the restaurant’s name.
Our fear of diarrhea dispersed into the thin dusty air when a plate of warm nasi putih kukus, ‘banjir‘ with sayur masak lemak, ayam and sambal telur arrived to whet our appetite. An old lady, probably both the owner and chef served us with utmost gratitude – a unique beauty of Indonesia. In the meantime, Lamhot arrived to sail us to our hotel, located all the way on the other side of the lake.
From the deck we filled our lungs with salty sea breeze, tinted our eyes with hues of deep greens, and watched with envy as the ferry dropped its passengers to their grand resorts. Ours got good reviews online, so I comforted myself in that knowledge.
The ride went on for what felt like 2 hours. Soon the entire sky began levelling down a shade darker and the gentle breeze we once knew became strong wind, hovering across table-top mountains. I ate my hair. More than once.
We were the last to get off turquoise Lahmot. We laughed last, and indeed we laughed best – literally at our charming misfortune. With great effort we ploughed through a cemetery with our weekend bags, said hi to a groupie of assorted farm animals, climbed a mini hill just to climb back down again, all with a full bladder; to reach this:
A Batak house named Yogi that was supposed to be our vacation stay for 3 days.
The owner wanted to show us around but there was nothing for him to show, except for two storeys through a hobbit door. Inside stood a squeaky ladder to climb up the altar and dusty pieces of mattresses that slept there for years. The bathroom was located right opposite the entrance in an inconvenient convenient manner.
“Hot water?”, I asked.
“No. No hot water.”, he said.
I could barely live with the thought of sitting in this bush for 6 hours doing nothing, leave alone 72! “I can’t. I can’t live without hot water. I’m sorry. This is supposed to be a vacation.”
Yogi told us he understood, with a facial expression implying that he wouldn’t stay either and we left without ever touching the keys. Patrick laughed and said that he wouldn’t trust me in planning holidays again in future. I was glad he didn’t kill me because I would kill myself.
So the cow and chicken navigated their way in the middle of no where to find their shelter. The sky looked like it would fall down anytime soon. I couldn’t help feeling awfully guilty for dragging Patrick into such stranded mess. Luck approached when we saw a hut with hanging chalkboards conversing its transportation services.
I hopped on a bike and my rider smelt like he didn’t wash his hair nor shower for a week. It was the shortest, yet longest ride of my life. I wondered if he would take me somewhere else and kill Patrick later, but with a little prayer and a heart loaded with faith in strangers, eventually we found a better place to stay.
And that was the most memorable part of our first day at Samosir Island. The rest of the day was spent idling with massages in between and a chill out dinner accompanied by Batak performances. I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise again and get away from the fluorescent glares.