8/17/2013

Medan Medan - Day 1

This year's dept trip was to Medan in North Sumatera, Indonesia. Other options were Phuket (clashed with a cousin's wedding) and Sepang Gold Coast. I chose Medan because it would be better to travel in a group and I didn't really wanna spend a weekend at a luxury resort.

Day 1

We took an AirAsia flight to Polonia International Airport. We boarded the tour bus and proceeded to visit Istana Maimun/Maimoon Palace. The palace was built in 1888 by the Sultan of Deli and the architecture has Spanish, Islamic and Indian influences. You can't miss the striking yellow exterior and the interior was impressive with portraits on the wall and the royal throne for tourists to see. 

Then it was a long ride to Berastagi. There was a dip in temperature as Berastagi is located in the highlands, famed for sweet fruits and cool landscape. We stopped at Sunrise Restaurant for lunch, and I hit the convenience store nearby for a roll of toilet paper. Tip: this was probably the most precious albeit cheap purchase from this trip. The public toilets most likely do not provide tissue and sometimes do not have water so this toilet roll became my best buddy! 

We continued up and up and up...the best way to describe the windy journey up is to simulate driving up to Fraser's Hill but double the duration. Good thing I didn't feel nauseous as the scenery was lovely and I enjoyed the view of the sister volcanoes (still active), Mt. Sibayak and Gunung Sinabung. I noticed the houses and shop lots in Medan have a common pattern; the front entrance/part of the building is a wide length panels; even the bigger houses kept this style. 


We arrived at the market and the first scent that hit me was poop. Literally hot horse dung dotted the road everywhere, as you can pay for a horse ride around the area. The market is divided into several sections: souvenirs, food, flowers and the raw stuff (fruits, vegetables, etc). We strolled the souvenir section; there are many T-shirts and keychains to choose from. Tip: buy using IDR, sometimes the salesperson will offer to accept payment in MYR but it's cheaper to pay using IDR based on the conversion rate. 


Then we stopped at the food section and I'd a glass of fresh sugar cane (really refreshing) and warm steamed sweet corn. We then checked out the fruits; popular products include the marquisa, oranges and strawberries grown on the hills nearby. I bought a bag of oranges (you can peel off the skin like Mandarin oranges) and got back on the bus. 

Our accommodation for day 1 was at Mikie Holiday Resort, a 4-start hotel with a theme park, open-air swimming pool (shame I didn't bring a swimsuit) and a karaoke center. We checked in then hopped on the bus to the hot springs located at the foot of Mt Sibayak. It's a common bathing area, so don't expect much; there were many locals there and we joined them in soaking our bodies in the warm (really warm) water with the cold mountain air slapping our faces (during the winds) under the shadow of the mountain. 

Buffet dinner was really good, I took about 3 rounds before I was full. Then we had a karaoke session; the song selection was surprisingly wide, the wireless keyboard was a nice touch and the room was comfy enough. It was so cold, that we'd to wear slippers while walking around the hotel room. 

Read on at Part 2!

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