Snippets from Sumatra (Part 2)


We landed in Medan and proceeded to the Garuda Plaza Hotel which is a place I would not recommend to anyone to stay in. I understand that North Sumatra is not yet an area where tourism is a priority but basic standards of cleanliness and hygiene should be a priority to any  business or establishment offering service to visitors. I have travelled extensively throughout Asia and try to make judgements based on the local standard and not my western view. India was a challenge but we still found all the accommodation offered relatively clean and had very welcoming attitudes. Unfortunately the Garuda Plaza was not such a place. Everything reeked of cigarette smoke, rooms, bedding, foyer and the lobby where we relied on getting wifi access. Our first night there wasn’t too bad, apart from the smell, but the night we stayed for the last night was a disaster. Late arrival, up to our room through the cloud of smoke, coped with that with the help of the atomiser of citrus spray I had packed. All looked OK, small but in order, then we folded back the bedding and found some surprises. The sheets obviously hadn’t been changed, just pulled up and neatened. Not a good move as the beds had quite obviously been slept in (don’t want to say what we found)  and I felt quite ill at the sight. No interest from staff to rectify the situation so we stripped the beds and used the sarongs I had bought as sheets. Not a good feeling I can tell you. Having said this, everywhere else we stayed was basically clean, accommodating and really nice. Medan would have to be one of the most boring cities ever! We walked and walked covering about 10 klms and still didn’t find anything of interest. Add to this the fact that alcohol is not readily available we really struggled!

Grand Mosque Medan
Grand Mosque Medan
Garuda Plaza Room View
View from our room Garuda Plaza Medan.
Maimun Palace Medan
Maimun Palace Medan

Next Stop-Bohorok

A  trip on the bus to this delightful area to arrive at the Rindu Alam Hotel. This was our base to venture into the jungle to view orang-utan in their natural habitat. Once settled in we walked into the local village and got  great exposure to the local community. Highlight was we came across a huge celebration going on which our tour guide thought was a local wedding. Happy, happy, happy, don’t get to see this often we were told. Families welcomed us and invited us in.

The feast being cooked.
What we thought was the wedding feast ready to serve.
Local village kids happy to see westerners.

At this point our tour guide chatted to the entertainers who had a sound system that would have rocked Wembley Stadium only to discover it wasn’t a wedding ceremony but a circumcision ceremony. Needless to say we all felt a little uncomfortable about this!IMG_3596This is the lucky recipient of the great celebrations. Doesn’t look too engaged with us for good reason I would say!IMG_3609 This is his extremely proud mother, happy to share such an important right of passage with strangers.IMG_3611 Grandma is so proud too.IMG_3614 All the local villagers are celebrating in style.


It was a beautiful feeling seeing the community coming together to share such an important moment for this young boy, one that none of us felt comfortable with. We smiled, graciously thanked them for their hospitality and continued on.

For the remainder of the walk we saw some beautiful people escaping the extreme heat and going about their day as they normally do. Just delightful!

IMG_3625 IMG_3628 IMG_3634Due to the extreme heat and humidity a few of us opted to a motor ride back to the hotel. Happy about that!IMG_3642Off to see some orang-utan tomorrow. Very excited, no guarantees but hopeful!

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