12.09.2009 37 °C
[applogies: this was written a few days aago...]
We’re now [or were] in Medan, in Northern Sumatra. Well, as far north as they recommend as the north north is not that nice due to a little trouble with it trying to gain independence for the last few years. The guide books say to keep away. Also there is nothing to see there.
Unlike Medan! It’s a vibrant, colourful, clean and friendly city. Not. It is friendly, with lots of people saying “Hello Mister!” as you walk past. They use the word ‘sir’ a lot too: “Good Morning Sir” “How are you Sir?” “Goodbye Sir” etc. We think the whole city is taught the basic English greeting and conversation at school as everyone seems to know how to ask your name, how you are and where you are from. Very much like what you learn in school in the first term of a new language. After they have exhausted these phrases, they then say “Thank you Sir, Goodbye Sir, Have a nice day Sir” and they are off, giggling girlfriend on their arm, looking proud to have conversed with a couple of funny looking white people! Even the army/police seem to want to get into that action, although some of that might be due to Anita wearing a vest top all the time. Local women are a LOT more conservative (it’s Muslim here remember).
But... Medan is dirty. And very busy. And loud (they think noise scares away bad spirits). Our taxi driver from the airport even told us to stay no more than one night as “there is nothing to do or see here”. So that is all we are doing. There seems to be no easy way to get to Bukit Lawang, our next stop, though. No tourist stuff setup for it. A taxi there will cost 400,000Rp (40USD). Or we take the local bus service for about 30,000Rp each plus the taxi to the bus station on the other side of town. In comparison to Bali, Java had bad tourist transport links, but Sumatra makes Java seem very accessible! To get anywhere we will need to go in and out of Medan. That’ll be time consuming. So we may not be spending too much more time here…
In the meantime tho, we’re off to Bukit Lawang. We did manage to find someone who knew someone from Bukit, who (luckily) is dropping off some tourists in Medan, and is going to take us back to Bukit for 100,000Rp. Bargain. What’s in Bukit Lawang you ask? Orang-utans!
Oh, and it rained here yesterday. The first rain we’ve seen since leaving Blighty. Bucketed down.
That’s all for now! Hope you’re all well!