Wednesday, 27 April 2011

MEDAN - March 2011

Had a night in Medan at either end of our trip to Sumatra. Arrived for our first night on 8/3. Our flight from KL was 1 1/2 hrs late so we didn't get in until after 10.30pm.
AA Planes on the tarmac at KL LCCT

For anyone thinking of heading to Sumatra via Polonia airport Medan, this may be some help for you. Australian tourists need to pay for a visa on arrival(US$25) on entry to Indonesia. As it was so late, I couldn't see where we should pay - you head over to the far left corner where there is a small office. Then to the equally small office/counter directly to the left of that! Then head to the immigration queue. For some reason, even though we were the first to pay our visa on arrival, we were just about last through immigration. Some people were having photo and fingerprint taken at the immigration counter. Rod had only his photo taken & I had neither - go figure.
Plenty of chance to change money after baggage collection but I already had rupiah to get me through till morning.
Bob our driver/guide was waiting for us with a smile. Straight to Danau Toba hotel. A nice hotel with a swimming pool, although we would be unable to make use of it. From the rates advertised at the desk, it's quite reasonable. Rooms are clean but if you're a non smoker, best to request a non smoking room!
Our Room for the 1st night. 
Our room for the last night was similar but not quite as nice as this. 

Lovely crisp, clean sheets.

View of the pool area from our room.

View from our room.

We didn't take much in of Medan on our first morning as we were only there long enough to change money before heading to lake Toba.
Changed our money at a money changer next door to Tip Top restaurant in Jl Jend A Yani. Good rate. As I count money all day for a living, I was fascinated watching the woman count out the money.
Staff at Tip Top Restaurant
We returned to Medan at about lunch time on 20/3. After dropping our gear once again at Hotel Danau Toba, Bob took us to the little India (Kampung Keling) area for lunch. Cahaya Baru restaurant, near Sun plaza. It was spotlessly clean. We of course had our favourite - martabak. This was the Indian style served with a curry sauce. Martabak was delicious, sauce a little bit hot for me but Rod loved it.
Martabak Indian Style

Here's another word of warning, careful if you need an internet cafe to print something important. Just because they have a printer doesn't mean said printer actually works!!!! I did web check for our next flight only to find that the printer wasn't actually working ;-0. Poor Bob drove around frantically until we came across an internet cafe that had a printer that actually worked!!!!!!! That was a challenge on a Sunday afternoon!
Visited the King's palace. Definitely worth a look. The grounds were being used for the finish of the Xtrim Sumatra Expedition. Bands, bright colours, lots of motor bikes and riders - so that was an interesting bonus. You never know what you're going to come across!!
Bob telling Rod all about the King's Palace

View from palace window

The mayhem outside!


And bikes everywhere!

Toilet facilities available!

And the band played on

Wouldn't be complete without pretty girls in traditional dress.

Also went to the mosque. I had never actually been inside a mosque before. I was surprised at how welcoming people were to have tourists wander around what is a holy place. There was also a bridal couple there having wedding photos taken :-)

Worshippers entering Masjid Raya, Medan

Masjid Raya

Tiled corridor, Masjid Raya

No Sleeping :-).  
Should put that in churches here!!

Dressed appropriately for the mosque

Masjid Raya entrance

Checked out the shopping mall across the road from the mosque. It has its own mini fun park on the top floor!!
Outside the shopping mall.

Looking up to the top floor fun park

Inside the shopping centre

Stocked up on Sumatran coffee etc here. Also bought a stiff brush to clean of our shoes and cases before heading home (if you live in Australia, they are very strict about bringing in anything that may have dirt on it).
By this stage it was time for dinner - hmm, haven't had martabak since lunch time :-p. Martabak it is!!!! And Bob knows just the place to find the best of the best!!! A row of about 3 stalls on the street, selling sweet and savoury!!
Martabak stall - in the style of Bangka

Frying the savoury martabak - mmm, so healthy ;-p

Sweet martabak - Teran Bulan

Should have put this pic first. Flattening the dough.

Take away martabak back to the hotel and time for an early night before an early am flight.
Oh, and you get free 4hrs in room wi fi at Danau Toba :-)
I'm not sure why people dismiss Medan. Sure it could be looked on as just another city but there's plenty to see with just the day to day life of a city. I would give it a full day, two if you had the time. I hear the shopping is good value here too!

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