Around 35 to 40 years ago the first intrepid European travelers arrived on the shores of Samosir Island. These wanderers had braved the difficult local transport systems to arrive at Parapat.

Local Fishermen took them the last few miles to the verdant paradise that was Tuktuk. Accommodation in those days was very basic to say the least, and to live there one had to live as a native lives.

The local Batak people at that time were very hospitable and made these wandering itinerants welcome.

Apart from presenting the travelers Tuak, a Palm Wine that was drunk and enjoyed locally, introduced the visitors to the local gold top magic mushroom.

This hallucinogenic mushroom was eaten with eggs and gave the user a slight pleasant psychedelic high.

To the present day this gold top mushroom is available in some restaurants in Tuktuk and in the surrounding area.

The Magic Mushroom of the family Psilocybe Cubensis is known locally as the “Gold Top” because of the beautiful golden color on the top of the mushroom.

Magic Mushrooms can be found throughout South East Asia, India and South America.

While I was In Tuktuk I decided to explore where these mushroom grew and how they were harvested and prepared for eating.

My Guide was an experienced mushroom gatherer called Roberto who also acted as a guide for tourists who wished to explore of the beaten track.

The next morning Roberto arrived on time at 08.00am no Jam Karet (Asian Rubber Time) for him.

I noticed that if any Batak suggests a meeting time it is always adhered to, unlike the rest of Asia!

We climbed on the back of Roberto’s motorbike for the short journey to Bukit Beta (Beta Hill), to begin our search for the Magic Mushrooms.

The views from the hill were stunning. Magic Mushrooms need plenty of rain, and Cow or Buffalo manure for the mushrooms to thrive.

After searching for over one hour we did not find one mushroom! Roberto suggested we try somewhere else I agreed as I was not giving up the hunt until I had at least seen one Magic Mushroom in the wild.

We traveled through Ambarita to the next village of Tolping. Just past Tolping was a meadow that rose steeply to the foot of the escarpment. We stooped climbed of the bike and began the search.

Again the Magic Mushroom was proving elusive. Mmmm maybe magic was at work here! However Roberto cleared up the conundrum.

As it was school holidays Tuktuk was full of locals from Medan who obviously knew all about the magic mushrooms. These “local tourists” had obviously beaten us to the punch, Finding all the mushrooms first.

I suggested we keep on looking.

After a long search Roberto suddenly dashed of the left and there it was a beautiful gold topped Mushroom. Roberto said that this was quite a large specimen at around 10cm in diameter.

The mushroom was flat with a golden disk covering some 70% of the surface area. There was a faint fungal smell. I broke of a tiny amount and tasted it. I eat raw white mushrooms all the time and the Magic Mushroom tasted just the same.

Roberto told me that they normally sun-dry the mushrooms then add them as topping to omelettes or scrambled eggs.
Cooking the mushrooms destroys the psilocin that produces the hallucinogenic effect.

A sprinkling of 2-3grams is the normal topping, but if someone wants a stronger high then 4-7 grams is used.
The price for magic mushroom omelettes varies from 45,000IDR to 60,000idr (6 to 7 USD).

I was told by a Magic Mushroom devotee that the effect is a pleasant high with sometimes a feeling of floating away. Colors are exaggerated and appear to shimmer and float. The effect, depending on the dose, lasts 4-8 hours.
Magic Mushrooms can be legally gathered in Lake Toba unlike in other parts of the world. Restaurateurs in Tuktuk have been selling the mushroom since the first travelers arrived some 35-40 years ago.

Despite my long search for the Magic Mushroom it was well worth both the money and the effort. I saw fantastic scenery and breathed cool clean air! My Expert Guide Roberto can be contacted through Lamtia Butar-Butar at Tuktuk Free Tourist Information Office in Tuktuk.

Copyright Allan Robinson 21/12/2012

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