Thursday, 25 November 2010

The day the heat became just too much...

I am generally an enthusiastic traveller. Everything about being somewhere new is an experience worth having, be that the sights, smells, sounds, people or activities. Even if, on occasion, that means grotty places to sleep, busy, dirty cities, or getting caught up in riots in South America. However, when reflecting back on Medan, for the first time I am struggling to find real recommendations, or many positives. Don’t get me wrong, the people in Medan were just as friendly and generous as those everywhere else in Sumatra. Getting slightly lost in the winding maze of the city centre, there was always someone happy to point out the right way. Similarly, our accommodation was lovely, with the first hot showers for nearly two weeks, so no complaints there.

On the flip side, Medan is incredibly humid, and very hot. It’s oppressive, not helped by the copious car fumes, and filthy river. The city centre, whilst not huge, is riddled with long streets and winding side roads, without signs or any other clues (although our rather basic map probably didn’t help!). It’s not set up in any way for pedestrians, and it is difficult to navigate through the traffic and haze of pollution.

On top of this, there is not very much to do. A couple of museums, a palace, and some mosques make up the bulk of the attractions, and can be done in a day at a push. After a short, hot walk through the centre, dropping in on a couple of attractions but beaten down by the continuous avoidance of traffic, the smell and the humidity, we eventually gave up and fled back to our room.

I’m not saying that Medan hasn’t got anything to offer, or that it is worth missing entirely. But I think a day is enough, and for us, two was a little too much.
We flew back to KL, and with just a day before the flight home, spent our last few hours in that vibrant, busy city, before saying a temporary goodbye to Asia…

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