Warning and danger? Danger is for the lake, possibly, but if the lake dies, the people will leave, and finally there will not even be visiting tourists. . .
Darwin’s nightmare; if you do not know, I just can very very warmly recommend you to leave VT for an evening and watch this movie; you will look at the world and people with different eyes! A synopsis of the documentary film is here: http://www.darwinsnightmare.com/. You also can watch (low quality) on google video : http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9039818938732594749
But. . . what has this story to do with North Sumatra? Well, when I had looks from far at some fish farms, I remembered that movie; and when I visited Ambarita, locals told me about fish farmers or agronomists, “experts” coming from Europe to implement fish farms and having seen what fish farming can do (to the environment, to the people; . . ) I suddenly felt unwell. I did not see horrors, I do not know if there are, may be all is well in the waters of Lake Toba and on its shores. . . . I just could see from far, installations which looked clean. . . Cannot tell more, just can be scared a bit.
There is not a lot in the press about that subject; here are two links.
Well, finally it may not be a nightmare here, and the waters of the lake are preserved. . .
You see on the first picture pontoons and cabins of farms, by tens in some places, with the pontoons reaching the shore (picture 2). So, if you see lots of cabins near the shores under the green hills of Samosir, these are not for tourists going for a bath(picture 3); you have a better idea of how the fish farms look like, when you look from above, like here, in a bay next to Parapat (picture 4), and many of these floating farms can only be reached by boat (picture 5)
Simply take care on the exchange rate. You MUST bargain on it!!!!! Yes, also on it!!!!
As well as on sigarettes, drinks, and whatever you could immage!!!
Do not be afraid, if somebody is offering you 9.500Rs for a dollar, ask for 10.000!! If he doesn’t accept it, then get out and he will follow you.
Clearly, you should know before how much is the real rate!!! Internet....