Falling in love with Sumatra
The next day we went to the island Samosir in the middle of the Lake Toba, in the centre of Sumatra, a most beautiful island in a beautiful lake, just like a dream.
I could see that Sumatra was different from Java, and slowly but surely I fell in love with this fascinating great island Sumatra. I remember that my father had told me that he was fascinated by Sumatra and that he was very sorry when the plantation where he worked for was closed down because of the malaise in 1934. I can now very well understand his feelings about having to leave this beautiful island in those days.
Agnes and I didn’t eat in the Hotel but we went to a small Indonesian restaurant where the meals were really delicious. The restaurant belonged to a very nice young couple.
When everybody was served the young man took his guitar and started playing and singing Indonesian and even some old Dutch songs, later on his wife joined him and she really had the voice of an angel.
On the Lake we could see the lights of some small boats passing by, and still having the taste of that nice meal we just finished, these two young Indonesians singing and playing guitar, Agnes and I both felt completely at home, as if we had always been there.
The Indonesians are so friendly, so polite and so relaxed.
When we were back in the hotel room, Agnes said: “The Netherlands really lost a paradise when we lost the Netherlands East Indies forever”. She was so right!
The next day we went for a long walk to a place called Ambarita, where we visited the old Batak homes. An old man asked us to sit on the chairs of stone because he was going to tell us the true story about these houses, since was a descendant from the last king, he knew what he was talking about.
Long ago in these houses lived the kings and princes from Ambarita, those kings had seven wives and many children. He told us that in the old days the Bataksl ate human flesh, so when a thief was captured in the village, he stayed four day in prison, that was underneath the houses together with the animals.
After those four days he was placed on a large flat stone, blindfolded, and then his belly was treated with a small knife and afterwards sprinkled with lemon. Next the thief was placed on another stone where the headsman chopped the poor man’s head off. But if the headsman didn’t succeed to chop the head of the thief in one time, then the head of the headsman would be chopped off as well. When all was done correctly, the king, his wives and children had to drink the blood for that would make them strong. The rest of the body went into a big pot to be stewed. Only the head was thrown in the lake.
These situations continued until the missionaries arrived in Ambarita and all the Bataks became Christians. The last king was buried as a Christian in 1857 and our prince told us that today all Bataks on the Samosir island are Christians.
The island is very beautiful and everywhere we saw the Bougainvillea in bloom it really looked so pretty, Samosir is an island to stay forever.
We walked back to our hotel and then for the rest of the evening to our love small Indonesian restaurant. Agnes had told several Dutch people also in staying in our hotel about this small restaurant where the food was delicious and where the young owners could sing like angels! Well that same evening the small restaurant was full of Dutch people (most of them came like us from the former Dutch East Indies) and we where all singing the songs together with the two happy looking young owners of this lovely small Indonesian restaurant. The young owner told Agnes and me that he hadn’t been so happy since a very long time. Later in the evening his young wife who had done all the cooking, came to sit next to me, took my hands and said; “You look so very happy”. She was right, when we had to leave the former Dutch East Indies in the very beginning of 1946 I had felt so completely lost, so deeply sad and now in 1996 that I was back to this beautiful country with its fine people, yes I was very happy indeed.
On the boat to Samosir
Batak houses from the kings from Ambarita
Two Batak children