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Appreciate the Meat, Protecting the Toba

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Author: Bagus Akhiro

Photographer: Paradao

A number of tourists enjoy the morning panorama at Meat Village. (Narendra)

 

Having a one-day stay in Meat,

we are taught to take care of the nation’s enormous crater lake, Toba

The locals preserve the culture

 and its pristine-looking nature for the sake of soul satisfaction

 

The sun just rises. The local geopark called Kaldera Toba which surrounds the mainland of Meat Village, fascinatingly lies in our sight. We immediately put a thick jacket on to shoo the cold away.

But it doesn’t apply to the local people. Instead of a thick jacket, they only need a sarong (re: a traditional large piece of cloth often wrapped around the waist) to get rid of the cold in their daily activities.

That morning, being in Meat feels quite special than usual, we pulled over at Simanjuntak Beach to directly peek the sun rises beautifully between the lines of the huge lake and enchanting morning sky. While feeling the warmth of the sunshine, the blue water of Lake Toba seemed to be dancing, inviting us to throw ourselves in.

The exoticism of Meat also turns our eyes wide open, with an eye-satisfying scenery of pine trees and green hillsides that surround Lake Toba, perfectly merged with the view of yellow rice fields. It somehow looks like a place in Bali called Ubud.

Sipping a cup of coffee while shutting our eyes, surprisingly is the best feeling yet most elegant way to enjoy the beauty of Meat. Even the nature seems to indirectly say “Welcome to Meat” to us.

Located in Tampahan district, Toba regency, the actual charm of Meat is not merely about its nature. The majority of the local people actually care about tourism. They look after the village very well, just like how they take full care of their own house.

The riverflow which becomes the major source of irrigation for rice fields also looks like a crystal clear. The water flows from the upstream then blends well with the blue of Lake Toba.

Getting to know more about how life works here at Meat, we decides to stay a night. The local people humbly suggested that we can spend the night at the Ragi Hotang traditional house.

We lowkey have a slight feel of creeps as the traditional house is quite aged. The house is at least hundreds years old. But, because our young blood feels much challenged, we dare to give it a try. The distance from the edge of the lake to Ragi Hotang is about 1 kilometer long. Starting from the lake, we chooses to take a walk along the rice fields.

Fortunately, we come to the right moment as it is harvest season that time. You can see the people were doing mamurpur (removing grains of rice) and manabi (cutting rice), in the stuning and beautiful natural landscape of Meat Village.

The expanse of rice fields combined with hills and blue sky becomes an exotic panorama in Meat Village. (Narendra)

After having a little chit-chats with some local farmers, we finally arrived at the local neighbourhood. The majority of each household works as the weavers of ulos, the typical Batak cloth. When the wives do the ulos-weaving, the husbands will do the farm. These two professions are indeed the main occupations in Meat.

In this neighbourhood, many locals weave ulos. This activity has become their passion ever since. Either they will be sold or not, the local females are still loyal and commited to do it. Because as for them, weaving ulos means maintaining the identity and value of the Batak tribe.

Just as tough as the commitment made by a 86 years old female ulos weaver named Marsita Tamubolon, despite her no-longer-young age, her eyes are still focused on knitting every single detail on the yarn of the ulos. Her ability to knit this warm cloth has been passed from her family generation since 76 years ago. As the result of her heartfelt commitment, she is now became one of the honored senior weaver in Meat up to this day.

Frankly and honestly speaking, Mrs. Tampubolon could have stopped doing it. But for her, she values ulos more than just a cloth.

“We always use it in most of the occassion happened in our life. Starting from births, weddings, to funerals,” she said proudly.

Age is never be a barrier for Marsita. She is able to make 4 ulos within a month. She may only have Rp. 800.000 per month for her work, yet it is never been a problem. For her, making ulos means a person will maintain the identity of Batak.

“I’ve been weavingulos for my entire life. And I will never stop doing it,”

The kind of ulos which mainly produced by the female locals in Meat is called ulos Ragi Hotang. Usually, it is used for traditional Batak wedding parties. Given to the bride and groom as a form of appreciation.

Marsita is preparing threads to be woven into ulos Ragi Hotang. (Narendra)

After the impressing meeting with the wise Marsita, we headstraight to the Ragi Hotang traditional house. We are immediately greeted by the owner, Guntur Sianipar. He showed us the three traditional Batak houses that he made for home stay. A long time ago, though, this house was occupied by the leader of the huta (village) from the Sianipar clan.

“This home stay is rented out on purpose, so the visitors who come by can put more appreciation toward the culture and nature of Meat,” said Guntur.

Like traditional Batak houses in general, the shape of Ragi Hotang traditional resembles a sampan or buffalo horn. There are paintings dominated by black, white and red gorga motifs that patched on its walls. The philosophy is believed as a symbol of repelling reinforcements.

The capacity of this traditional house can be occupied by six people. By only spending two hundreds thousand rupiah, you can enjoy sleeping like the Batak King in the past.

“The lodging is quite natural, we use a tilam (mattress). For breakfast, we only have Gadong (sweet potato) as the meal, ” explained Guntur.

Long way before this time, Guntur said that the buildings in Ragi Hotang village were not well-maintained. He admits that they lacked of maintenance fee. Furthermore, in 2016 the government revitalized this place and make it better again.

Since then, the profits from the hostelry are used to maintain the building. “Preserving culture to avoid them became extinct, now it has become a memorable home stay for local wisdom,” said Guntur.

Bolon’s house in the Ragi Hotang Traditional Village still stands firm. (Narendra)

 

The sky slowly turned orangeish. Prettily signaling that the twilight will be swollen by night. Some young people rush to the lake shore; enjoying the romantic twilight of Meat. Watching some local boys having fun while rowing a solu (small boat) is such a heartfelt moment we had. There are also those who swim and throw themselves into the cold water of Lake Toba.

We ended up staying one night. In a house entirely made of wood, three mattresses are provided by the owner. It may look simple, but the place is surprisingly cozy and comfortable to release our steess.

As morning arises, we sat relaxed by the lake while savoring the beauty of nature in the bluish scenery of Meat village.

The sunset view of Lake Toba from Meat Village. (Narendra)

 

 

Geo Heritage made of 300 years old rock

Beside putting us in awe, the sparks of blue ray color of Lake Toba also invites us to ask questions. Why does the water of Lake Toba in Meat Village look different from any other place. We discussed this question with the Vice General Manager of Toba Caldera Geopark, Gagarin Sembiring.

In his explanation, he states that basically, Meat is a geo heritage made of 300 million years old rock. Due to the eruption of Mount Toba hundreds of thousands years ago, it then formed a sediment which were arranged into hills and lands.

Regarding the blue color of the water, Gagarin added, there should be further specific research about this. It could be due to environmental factors. “It depends on the purity, depth and the reflection of light also the surroundings,” he stated.

Farmers harvest rice in the rice fields of Meat Village. (Narendra)

 

Gagarin’s analysis casually addresses to the bedrock type. It could be derived from old rock that exists 300 million years ago. However, to reach this phase requires well-organized sampling and further study.

“They produced white-colored sediments as the results of Toba eruption 74,000 years ago. Instead, it’s dark there, kinda greyish,” he concluded.

Despite the scientific explanation of Gagarin, there is no reason for anyone not to visit Meat and take a peek on what Meat can actually provide to public. Meat’s eye-pleasing view, the beauty of its lake, the friendliness of its people, its well-organized agriculture, and the uniqueness of its traditional house; are the things you will never want to miss out.

Thus far, having a one-day stay in Meat, teaches us about the art of protecting Lake Toba. (*)

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