Sumatra, about 60,000 – 70,000 years ago, the largest known explosive eruption on Earth in the last 25 million years occurred. Approximately 2,800 km3 of material was released and most of it was blown to the west. According to some research and measurements, at one site in central India, the Toba ash layer today is up to 6 m thick. The eruption was so massive that it affected global climate and lowered temperature elsewhere on Earth.
Fast forward to more than sixty millennia later, I was sitting on a boat crossing the massive Lake Toba to get to Samosir Island. The landscape looks anything but menacing. It was such a picturesque sight with lush forest behind me and verdant island in front of me while the boat was going through the tranquil water of this expansive lake which sits on an ancient caldera. The air was so fresh and the water was ocean-blue clear. The only thing that kept me from dreaming was the music which was played on the boat throughout the trip from Parapat, a small town on Sumatra at the bank of the lake, to Tuk Tuk (not to be confused with the ubiquitous means of transportation in Southeast Asia) at Samosir Island. Now I can fully comprehend why Lake Toba has become part of the well-trodden Banana Pancake Trail, famous among backpackers as it goes through Southeast Asia’s most interesting places. It exudes a laid-back yet alluring ambiance for anyone visiting. Apart from that, measuring 100 km long and 30 km wide, at some points on Samosir Island Lake Toba looks like a really vast sea.
During my two-night stay at Samosir Island, I spent many hours sitting or laying on the bench with great view of Lake Toba. When I was not closing my eyes, there were lots of interesting things to see. From sparrows chirping on tree branches, egrets catching fish, until a dark cloud which poured down a heavy rain at the other side of the island. It was truly the ultimate place for mind relaxation, indeed, or at least for me.