Home from Sumatra already, so time to relive our trip and share our thoughts before it's too late and it's lost within the mush of grey matter!!
Suffice to say, we had a great time!!! Sometimes you feel like you're in a bit of a time warp (which I liked)!! I don't understand why tourism hasn't taken off more in this part of Indonesia. There is so much to experience.
So glad we organised a driver/guide before we left. With a total of only 12 full days we couldn't risk too much time taken with delays. This way we knew our valuable time would not be 'wasted'.
Bob, our trust driver and guide was extremely reliable - waiting at the airport till our late evening flight eventually arrived 1 1/2hrs late!! But more on Bob later ;-).
Bob suggested that in the time that we had, our time may be better spent if we skipped Ketambe. As much as I'm sure I would have loved it and wish I had been able to go there also, it freed up a couple of days to enjoy the other places in a more leisurely fashion.
So we had our first night in Medan, 4 nights Lake Toba, 2 nights Berastagi, 4 nights Bukit Lawang, 2 nights Tangkahan, 1 night Medan.
We discovered new things. One of these (thanks Bob :-) ) was Bandrek. It's kind of like Chai Tea (in fact I ordered a Chai in Bukit Lawang and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was Bandrek!). Hmm, I wrote the ingredients down: ginger, lemon grass, star anise, cinnamon, pepper, cardamon & palm sugar. So nice!!! I can't believe that I don't seem to have taken a photo :-0/
The best food comes from Sumatra because they have fresher ingredients there!!
The traffic is crazy but mostly it seems to work, goodness knows how. We may have been lucky but we didn't see one accident and were only driven off the road once. Thanks to Bob's great driving skills, car and passengers were unscathed. We all decided that as we Australians say, the other driver must have got his licence "out of a Weeties packet", lol!
Love the motorbike becak things (think they're call becak mesin. Didn't get a chance to get a ride in one but they just look so cool!
Are we glad we went to Sumatra? Absolutely!
Is it safe? From our experience, absolutely! At the same time though, it's like anywhere you go, even at home - you should always keep your wits about you & take care with yourself and your possessions.
Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely! Unless of course, you are looking for a resort-style holiday. If you want something just a little more adventurous (or a lot more adventurous than we did) then this is a great destination.