UPDATED: December 5, 2018
There are a few periods in the year which can best be described as Super High Season in Tuk Tuk. Sometimes an expected Super High Season just works out as that, sometimes during an expected Super High Season ‘nothing happens’.
One should be prepared for Super High Season conditions during the following periods:
The Christmas and especially New Year Period.
Imlek. The days around and especially just following Imlek, the Chinese New Year
Lebaran: The end of Ramadan Holidays. EID UL FITR.
Spontaneous. This is more or less completely unpredictable and can happen every time a public holiday combines with the weekend, which means a public holiday on a Friday and / or Monday.
Apart from Tuk Tuk, all of Samosir as well as Parapat and Berastagi will be affected. The majority of the guests during a Super High Season being local guests looking for a change of scenery and cool weather. Both Samosir and Berastagi are already very cool if not cold as compared to the big cities such as Medan, Siantar, Tebing Tinggi and most of the rest of Sumatra.
Bukit Lawang, also warm and very humid is hardly affected during the Super High Season.
During the normal and low season Passenger ferry service from Parapat to Tuk Tuk is every hour at the bottom of the hour. During the Super High Season the passenger ferry takes off when it is full. Full meaning some 75 to 100 passengers on the ferry. After dropping the passengers in Tuk Tuk the ferry may head straight back to Parapat to bring in the next load. Depending on how big the crowd is extra ferries may join the fun.
The normal schedule of the Car Ferry from Parapat to Tomok is every three hours. During the Super High Season an extra car ferry will be employed. These two car ferries will then operate on a non-stop 24 hr/day go and back service to shuttle all the cars and passengers to Tomok, Samosir. This sounds good and it is good, because during the Super High Season two ferries are always better than one ferry. A minor problem, which may easily turn into a major problem, is that the car ferry can only carry some 35 cars. The go and back time from Parapat to Tomok is minimum one hour, so we are now talking maximum 70 cars per hour. If more than 70 cars turn up for the crossing within an hour, the minor problem may easily turn into the major problem and during the Super High Season waiting time for the car ferry may go up to 10 to 15 hrs.
Keep in mind that cars are loaded on the ferry not in the order of arrival but in order of when the ticket is bought. So the moment you join the line you better go straight away to the ticket office to buy your ticket. You cannot buy tickets ahead, you can buy the ticket only after you come into the line. You may see other cars or buses passing you going straight to the ferry. The system is that Public Transport and Samosir Residents don’t have to wait in line.
The good news is that trucks bringing supplies to Samosir, like cigarettes, beer and ice cream, are not allowed on the car ferries starting from a week before till a week after the Super High Season, thus making space for the guests. The bad news is that at the end of the Super High Season, Samosir and Tuk Tuk may be in short supply of quite a few essentials. This will hold especially for Restaurants and Accommodations which depend on public supply lines rather than having their own independent supply line.
When you plan to bring your own car to Tuk Tuk a plan can be that the passengers in the car come with a passenger ferry and that the driver comes with the car with the car ferry, this may safe the passengers a very long and uncomfortable waiting time in the car.
The Super High Season is also the season for building the most impressive traffic jams between Medan and Parapat. The favorite locations for traffic jams are Perbaungan, Kampung Pon and Simpang Dua (Siantar). For the Simpang Dua traffic jam one should schedule 2 to 4 hrs. All in all the travel time between Medan and Parapat via Siantar should be doubled from 4 to 8 or 10 hrs.
Normally public transport operates on a kind of hop on hop off system and the bus or mini bus will pick you up and drop you at any place along the road. Don’t be surprised that during the Super High Season the bus or mini bus is already full and it will not stop. When I say full I mean full meaning every seat and every place to stand will be occupied. Your best chance to get a seat or standing place is the bus terminal in Parapat or Medan.
Private cars with driver will be in short supply and regular prices may go up with 30 to 50 %, depending a bit on the quality of the car and the driver.
Costs of shared taxi services may go up by 20 to 30 %, provided the shared taxi service is operating. The normal shared taxi services operate from Parapat to Medan with yes or no a detour to the airport and to Bukit Lawang with a stop in Berastagi to drop or pick up passengers. Todays shared taxi from Parapat to Bukit Lawang is tomorrows shared taxi from Bukit Lawang to Parapat. During the Super High Season shared taxi service may stop operating for reason that renting out the car as a private car with driver easily doubles the income compared to what the shared taxi could make or that the driver of the shared taxi prefers to have a quiet and good time with his family rather than being accused of a rip-off (price increase) or getting stuck in a traffic jam with passengers who are most likely going to miss their flight.
Most accommodations will apply ‘high season rates’. The better and more expensive accommodations may increase their rates with 50 to 100%. To book a room in these accommodations it is best to book as early as possible.
Quite a few of the local guests will be looking for low budget accommodations and as such competing with the normal low budget guests, which may result in the regular and low budget accommodations raising their rates with a factor 2 to 5.
Normally, give or take a bit, the cost of renting a motor bike including fuel comes at some Rp 100.000,-- per day. During the Super High Season this can easily become Rp 50.000,-- an hour. A bicycle comes normally at some Rp 35.000,-- per day. Don’t be surprised that you will be quoted Rp 10.000,-- or Rp 15.000,-- per hour.
The number of jet-skis and banana boats operating around Tuk Tuk is growing very fast. Quite a few guests coming to Tuk Tuk for nature, peace, quiet and rest do complain about the continuous noise from early morning till evening. Unfortunately, related to the operation of jet-skis and banana boats there is an economic principle involved known as supply and demand. It is not that a guest is forced to use a jet-ski, it is also a guest who is happily asking for a jet-ski or bananaboat.
Looking at what normally happens during the ‘Super High Season’ I must conclude that the demand for jet-skis and banana boats is always far more than the supply. The simple reason being that the number of local and regional guests, looking for this kind of watersport & entertainment, by far outnumber the relatively few foreign guests.
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