TRAVEL is the only thing you buy that makes you richer, an anonymous person once said.
The quote brings up wonderful memories of my time in Danau Toba in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, the largest volcanic lake in the world.
Having dared to live life the way I always wanted, adventure filled my soul and it was no different then.
I had the privilege to watch a group of “aquatic babies” in action.
Naked and unabashed, they were diving wizards. They were only seven but their showmanship was of the highest professional level.
As I flipped a coin from the upper deck of the ferry, the five kids scurried to retrieve it. As graceful as a mermaid and flexible as a gymnast, they dived headlong into the depths of the lake, leaving me awestruck.
The other tourists also threw coins into the water.
Some of the boys caught the coins in their mouths. Thank goodness none of them accidentally swallowed them.
Some would jump into the air to grab the coins before falling back into the water.
These “amphibious” children learnt these skills from their parents who earned their living as fishermen at the lake.
Given proper guidance, the boys could have been be nurtured as world beaters in Olympic diving and swimming events. These children were mostly of Batak descent.
You should not miss seeing these Batak children showing off their diving skills if you visit Brastagi where Danau Toba is located.
Filled with admiration of their magnificent performance, I personally invited the kids to board the ferry before starting the cruise to Samosir island.
I presented each of them with the equivalent to RM5 in Indonesian rupiah.
I have been to Brastagi at least thrice. It is known for its cool weather.
During one of my trips, I climbed up the Sibayak and Sinabung volcanoes.
You will be stunned by nature’s wonders by taking a ferry ride around the lake at Samosir.
The Sipiso-Piso waterfall is also amazing. It is the tallest in Indonesia at a height of 120m.
See the beauty of the town as you enjoy a leisurely ride on a sado (horse-drawn cart).
This holiday retreat dates back to the Dutch colonial times.
View the unique structure of the Batak Toba tribe house with high peaks and walls that lean outwards.
Other beautiful traditional houses dot this holiday resort.
A three-day stay is long enough if you don’t intend to climb the two volcanoes.
The place will re-energise and invigorate your tired soul.
A.R. Amiruddin is a former journalist with The Star for 19 years and the defunct National Echo for 10 years. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.