So… here’s to trying to reminisce what happened in Medan way way way back in January. Why did I not do this earlier? Ugh.
Note: Picture-heavy post.
Medan is an hour flight away from KL. And I suggest you to visit Medan during non-peak season! We went there mid January so it was a little quiet.
Oh speaking of KL, before I even talk about Medan, IF you’re planning to stay overnight at the airport and if you have baggage to check-in, please make sure your hotel is NOT inside the terminal LOL!
What happened was, we only found out that our hotel is INSIDE the terminal and we have check-in baggage. Luckily the custom and security helped us out. What we did was we left our baggage in their paid locker, passed through the immigration and slept in the hotel. We checked out of the hotel during Subuh, and out of the terminal to get our bags checked-in. It was a lot of hassle! We arrived KL before midnight and our flight to Medan was early in the morning. I suggest you to stay at Tunes Hotel instead!
Anyway, we arrived at the humble airport of Medan – Kuala Namu – and waited for our driver. Luckily we had our Indonesian simcard. Turned out our driver was late as his tyre was flat. And yes, I would recommend Pak Rijal – +6285275603660 – make sure you book his service in advanced! Once you reach the airport, there will be A LOT of men offering their services as a driver. According to our driver, some are not really honest and some barely know places. Our driver has been hired by a lot of Malaysian tourists and travel bloggers. Anyway, the point is, one – book your driver in advanced, two – stay inside the airport and don’t go outside until your driver has arrived!
One thing for sure, Medan is not a place for you to shop. Yes if you like sight seeing and island hoping!
It took 4.5 hours from Bandar Medan to Lake Toba. Nope, no highway. Just small roads with A LOT of big trucks and I swear the closer you are to the lake, the scarier the road is as you have to go up and down of the mountains. Yes. MOUNTAINS. The road barely fit 2 cars so imagine an Innova and a BIG TRUCK full of loads driving across each other, and you can actually see how high up in the mountain you are at the moment. SCARY. The whole time we kept going “SubhanAllah” because we were scared – not for the weak-hearted people LOL! But the view was worth the ride!
On our way to Lake Toba we went to several pit stops. We passed by several districts along the way. One of it is Siantar. Here, we went to Paten – one of the goods producer in Medan famous for their Tang Tang, Ting Ting, Tung Tung snacks – very. yummy. Apparently the names are after her children. Cute! The shop looks like a typical, humble Chinese shop. We bought some snacks as delicious souvenirs for family and friends. The owner will give you testers and they even have special packs with all the flavours too.
And yay. She provides boxes for you as well as tapes and plastic bags. Awesome customer service
Then we had our lunch. One special dish here is Nasi Padang – anywhere we go it’s always Nasi Padang! Usually they will serve ALL kinds of food on your table and they will only charge you what you ate. Nothing more, nothing less. I love the kerabu – my childhood maid used to make me some and I finally satisfied my crave here!
The main dish was… burung ruak ruak. It’s like burung puyuh but slightly chewier. No I don’t eat any kinds of birds. Only chicken. Chicken is obviously my ultimate favourite. (So obviously I made a sad face and asked for fried chicken)
Another specialties in Medan is Jus Mertabi – a mixture of markisa (passion fruit) and terung belanda.
After lunch, we continued our journey to Lake Toba. Along the way, you will see signboards saying “B1” and “B2”. B1 stands for dog meat (derived from the word Biang) and B2 is pork meat. So after Siantar, the majority are non-Muslims thus the signboards. We saw more churches after that compared to back in Bandar Medan and Siantar where there are more mosques.
When we went up the mountain, this is where the scary rides started (we got used to it on the second day. Kidding. It was still scary). You will see a lot of small coffee houses on the edge of the mountain called Panatapan – where you can enjoy a good cuppa while viewing the majestic view of Lake Toba.
Sadly, the day we arrived, it rained and fogged a little so we couldn’t do much sight seeing or go to the other island.
So we checked in into our hotel, bought a little souvenirs, ate dinner and spent the night passed out in our room because we were tired and probably had the effect of motion sickness hahaha
We stayed at Hotel Niagara, Parapat. They have wifi of course… at the lobby. So guess who stayed for an hour or two at the lobby during our stay there? HAHA! Oh, by the way, since you’re up on the mountain, the weather was very cold! We did not even turn on the fan!
Medan is a fan of lizards – it symbolizes the people, that they can live anywhere in the world and still survives.
We stayed one floor above the lobby and our balcony had the most amazing view.
I love the hotel’s architecture. And yes, our room is facing the majestic looking Lake Toba!
According to the driver, it used to be one huge volcanic mountain. It went active and blasted millions of years ago, thus creating Lake Toba. It is very huge and reaches up to 7 different districts. Well, that’s according to him. Sila refer Wikipedia hehe
Then we went for a quick shopping – which I recommend to shop at the other island instead lol
There’s a lot of dogs here (so silakan imagine Ummi trying not to attract their attention and simply stood still with scared face on. LOL!) We had our early dinner at the humble rumah makan nearby.
YAAAAAS! Jus Durian Belanda (Soursop) is a must whenever I’m in Indonesia. Same goes to Alpukat (Avocado). How I wish Avocado is cheap in Brunei –_-
After dinner, we continued sight seeing. We went to the nearby hotel (oops) for better view since it was foggy and then toured around our hotel a bit before we went back (to the lobby. for wifi. duh.)
Oh when we went up the mountain, I realized that there’s a lot of pine trees in Parapat. Combine it with the cold temperature, it felt like I was in Switzerland! It did not feel like Indonesia at all (actually my friends don’t even know where Medan is hahaha!) I should have said I was in Swiss instead
Yes, I brought my travel buddy again this time and she didn’t disappoint me!
Anyway, that’s part one and end of my Day 1 in Medan. 4 more posts! Till then