Medan North Sumatra Indonesia 28th October

The third largest city in Indonesia and the capital of Northern Sumatra, Medan is a city where industrialisation has wrought havoc. There is a lot of pollution but that is to be expected of cities. 
Medan is a bit of a distance from the water so not much of a breeze blows across the city. If you're backpacking, beware of cycle-by theft. There are a lot of poor desperate people in Medan and, if you're a 'bule' (white person) expect to be asked for money by everyone you meet, not just those who wish to sell you something.

The traffic is frightening. On first impressions there are no road rules, just drive into the middle of the road and try and push your way into the nearest lane in the general direction of where you're going.

Worth visiting: 
Mesjid Raya (Grand Mosque) Don't forget to cover yourself before you go in.
Museum of North Sumatra - beware of tour guides wanting large tips.
Central Medan for lots of colonial architecture such as the Clock Tower. 
The train station is also worth a look, purely because it is in such a dilapidated state that you can't believe it's still running!
The markets are worth visiting if you have a skill with bargaining. Most sales people will instantly quadruple the price the moment they see you're not from Indonesia. Best to take an Indonesian with you when bargaining.

Traveller's comment:
After leaving Singapore Changi Airport - the largest airport in Asia - we arrived at Medan airport - surely the smallest! A bus met the China Air flight and we were carted to what I initially thought was a temporary waiting room until we went to immigration. Nope, that was immigration, about the size of a house!

My wife's uncle worked for immigration so we were able to get through without incident. It is understood that, in Indonesia, a gratuity is necessary to pass through most immigration centres.

After leaving the airport I was gripped with absolute terror. The car that I was in continued to be only 5cm away from cars on all sides. The traffic was horrendous. If you wanted to get into a lane you pushed, continually edging slowly forward at about 1km an hour until the cars already in the lane couldn't push past you. I hate travelling by car at the best of times - this swore me off using a car during this trip.

The pollution was awful. As I am mildly asthmatic I found that moving very slowly was a good idea. Though, the pollution is comparable to downtown LA.

Continuing Neil's Indonesian Travelogue

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