I arrived in Medan, north Sumatra yesterday afternoon. If you discount the few hours I spent in Burma (Myanmar) this is my 10th country on the trip. The Rough Guide starts its description of Medan with “it has acquired a reputation as a filthy and chaotic metropolis with few charms” though it goes on to say this is somewhat unjust. I’ll be honest, I think the reputation is fairly accurate.
I’m also back to a country where customer service doesn’t have much of a meaning. All 3 components of the first meal I had here were cold & tasteless and the local Pelni ferry office didn’t have any route maps or timetables, not even on the walls. On the plus side although its a Muslim country you can still get a beer in some places and when you find a decent place the food is tasty and spicy.
Today is to spent planning the next week or so, changing money, buying malaria pills, etc, etc. My rough plan before getting here was to head to Bukit Lawang and check out the Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre and possibly do a jungle trek. Rumours reached me yesterday that much of the village and the centre were wiped out in floods. Checking the internet I found the Bukit Lawang Flood Appeal so I may head to Berastagi first and see what I can pick up on the traveller grapevine.