Lazy Days in Medan – Welcome to Sumatra
Well, I guess there has been little to report during the last few days. But, there is a good reason for it… We treated ourselves to some really lazy days in Medan, Sumatra.
After our Taiwan backpacking trip, and a few hot days in Hong Kong filled with golf and Sevens, it was clear to us: We needed to stay in one place for a few days at a time. In a beautiful hotel room. So, we decided on the Ibis (a great value for our money!) in Medan to plan our Sumatra trip.
During our layover in Kuala Lumpur, we compiled a list of places that we wanted to see. The only question was just where we should start, and for how long we want to stay in one place.
Since we arrived late at night, we spent our first morning sleeping in. Afterward, we enjoyed a great breakfast and then had to catch up on our laundry.
We are such bloody beginners! It felt like it was 100 degrees as we started walking to see if we could find the laundromat that was nearby our hotel. And after about 15 minutes of walking in the blazing sun, we found what we were looking for.
We walked back to the hotel to get our laundry, then walked all the way back to the laundromat and finally had fresh clothes again. Good thing because what we were wearing was now soaking wet!
Is this a sidewalk? Welcome to Sumatra!
Anyone who has ever been to Medan knows that there aren’t real pedestrian walkways here. What is in front of you is a sort of sidewalk that is full of large rocks and giant holes! So you always have to be careful not to stumble, or to fall in a hole, or get electrocuted by a power cable that is hanging down from a tree, or hit by a scooter! The scooters especially like to drive on the so-called sidewalks.
This is perfectly normal here, and with the chaotic traffic, it is also somehow understandable.
Only for the tourist, who is juggling the streets with overfilled laundry bags, it is unusual and difficult. Especially when you have lost your brain on the way due to the heat.
We made it to the laundromat despite the melted brain and the chaos of the traffic! We even found a warung (a kind of hole-in-the-wall I guess) nearby where we ate very well for the equivalent of 3 Euros and then arrived safely back at the hotel with clean laundry.
After finding an ATM and supermarket around the corner, we were ready for Sumatra and the following days in Medan.
The Hackers of Sumatra
That evening we went to a “Western restaurant,” which many ex-pats visit.
The prices were of course correspondingly high, but we didn’t really want to go back out again in the sweltering heat and crazy traffic. After all, we are “slow travel” and like it cozy!
James had been in the mood for spaghetti carbonara for weeks, which happily landed on the table in front of him, and I finally got my healthy (albeit very small) salad.
As we sat there, two guys carrying their golf bags walked past our table. What?!
Understand that if we see people carrying golf bags in a restaurant, or probably anywhere out on the street, we are going to approach them! And this is how we got introduced to a lively group of ex-pats. They call themselves the “OP Hackers of Sumatra”, where OP stands for Old People. We love it!
Quite quickly, numbers were exchanged and a plan to play golf was made. How simple some things can be!
The next day we went to Cambridge Plaza with Grab, which is sort of like Uber, to buy a Sim Card for our phones.
We intended to go golfing after that, but sometimes what should be a simple thing, turns out to be complicated!
After we bought the Sim Cards, our odyssey began. Apparently, James’ mobile phone is not unlocked, although we were told when we bought it in Germany that we can also use our phone abroad.
My phone works … but his doesn‘t. Long story short, we were sent from location A to B, and then to C. Countless rides and hours later, and the promise to be called by a Service Centre (we are still waiting for the call back by the way), we were back at the hotel in the late afternoon without having achieved our full mission.
As compensation, we jumped into the refreshing pool at the hotel and ended the evening relaxing in our room.
We’re feeling comfortable
While we were in Taiwan, we were greeted with smiles and a “Welcome to Taiwan!” Here, we are greeted with smiles and “Where are you from?”
We may sound like a broken record, but … The people here are so super nice! And we already have a sister, a daughter, a son, and a cousin!
If you google the population of the capital of Sumatra, it will show that 2 million residents live here. But according to the locals that we have met, this is only the population of the city center of Medan. In total, they say it has a population of 6 million.
And judging by the traffic, it is a city larger than 2 million! So although we are very fond of walking almost everywhere, we have been relaying diligently on the services of Grab since the second day. This way we don’t have to be afraid of getting run over (crossing the road here borders suicide), and we arrive at our destination reasonably dry.
Golfing in Medan
On Friday we met the OP Hackers of Sumatra and played at the Bukit Barisan Golf Course.
The green fee was only around 15 euros and included a golf cart! And the caddy (which is mandatory per person here) came out to be just 10 euros.
You can read about what the golf course was like at some point, as always, under Quick Pars. Despite a lot of sunscreen, we (especially me) got a sunburn and were quite broken after golfing and spent the rest of the day in our hotel room with headaches. We should have tackled it slower and only played 9 holes, but you know how it is…
Unfortunately, we left the Hacker’s meeting point at Roland’s Restaurant soon after we arrived. But if you should be in Medan and are looking for German food, you should stop by there. They even have beef roulade!
While we didn’t eat there, it made a good impression on us.
Saturday started easily, with another lavish breakfast. After eating, our plan was to work in the hotel restaurant for a few hours on our blog posts and save and edit some pictures.
But we hadn’t considered that auditions for “The Voice of Indonesia” would take place that day!
So, we scrapped our plans and took a look at the whole thing.
Honestly, if I were a singer and decided to try out, I would be as nervous as hell! Here though, all we saw were really big smiles from everyone and friendly hellos.
While there, we met David, who works at one of the local radio stations, and was helping with the auditions. We owe it to him that we could listen in on one of the candidates. Hopefully, we didn’t make him too nervous and he got one step farther!
We have no regrets about our decision to stay longer here while enjoying some lazy days in Medan.
How it went on and whether we managed to see some sights, read here.