06 Mar - 09 Mar 2012 Medan

Republic of Indonesia
North Sumatra aka Sumatera Utara
Jalan Tengah 1
Small but adequate twin room (no. 402) with tiny private bathroom for only IDR 60,000.- or US$ 6.50 per night. From the hotel’s written rules and regulations: “ …unmarried couples are not allowed to sleep in the same room... “
Beer: 620-ml bottles of ice-cold Bintang beer (in deep-frozen glasses) for IDR 28,000.- or US$ 3.05 per bottle at the beer-garden like Corner Cafe Raya, conveniently located right opposite the Grand Mosque, from where we heretics could raise our glasses to the practitioners, cheers!

Click below for an interactive road map of the Residence Hotel in Medan and for directions:

Being rudely awakened at 04:30 a.m. by our first ever Sumatran, very powerful prayer call from the nearby Grand Mosque’s croaking amplifying equipment and exploring the vicinity of our hotel by foot: (i) the 1906 CE Grand Mosque aka Masjid Raya Al-Mashun (built in Moorish style), the biggest and allegedly most beautiful mosque in North Sumatra, and (ii) the 1888 CE Maimoon Palace aka Istana Sultan Maimun Al Rasyid (entrance: IDR 5,000.- per person), a sloppily restored heritage site where gigantic Dutch tourists squeezed themselves into traditional Indonesian costumes in order to have their souvenir photo taken.

Purchasing an Indonesian SIM card from Telkomsel Flash for our laptops, with unlimited but not-so-broad broad-band internet access for a 30-day period, for altogether IDR 60,000.- or US$ 6.50, catching up on admin work (travel blog and photos) and enjoying tremendously many looong Skype video calls with our friends and family both in South Africa and in Canada.

"And there are no letters in the mailbox
and there are no grapes upon the vine,
and there are no chocolates in the boxes anymore,
and there are no diamonds in the mine."

Bracing ourselves for the monkey business of viewing wild Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) in the Gunung Leuser National Park, one of the apes’ last remaining strongholds, leaving our luggage in the hotel in Medan, taking one of the battered yellow minibuses (angkot, no. 64) for IDR 4,000.- or US$ 0.45 per person to the Pinang Baris Bus Terminal, Medan’s long-distance bus station for north/west-bound busses, from here taking an even more battered Fa. Pemb. Semesta “big bus” to Bukit Lawang’s Gotong Royang Bus Station (90 km, 2 ¾ hours, IDR 15,000.- or US$ 1.65 per person) and walking thereafter for about 30 min to Mboy Guesthouse, located on the east bank of the Bohorok River aka Sungai Bohorok, almost opposite the entrance to the Gunung Leuser National Park, a 7,927sqkm-large national park in northern Sumatra with a wide range of ecosystems, named after Mount Leuser (3,381 m).

Click below for more blog posts about other interesting Asian cities

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

Facing Sumatra
© Konni & Matt

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