24 Hours might be too short for visiting Medan. However, 24 hours in Medan is certainly long enough to sample the best of this lovely city.
Medan, the capital city of North Sumatera province, is located in Sumatera Island, and also well known as the third-largest city in Indonesia, after Jakarta and Surabaya. It is quite easy to reach Medan, either by air or sea, however I will tell about my experience reaching Medan by air. Medan is definitely modern nowadays, thanks to Kuala Namu International Airport, which has fully operated since 2013. Kuala Namu International Airport is located in Deli Serdang Regency and it takes 2 hours to reach Medan City, due to the heavy traffic and also the not-yet-finished new highway road that links the airport to Medan City. But, no worries! Kuala Namu International Airport is equipped with a modern and sophisticated Airport Rail Link Services. By using the Airport Rail Link Services, we can reach Medan City for only 30 minutes. The train is definitely clean, comfy, and punctual! In fact, one of my Thai’s friends told me that this train is better than their Bangkok’s Airport Rail Link Services. Yep, with only Rp 80,000 you can relax in the fully air-conditioned train and after 30 minutes you will be arrived at Stasiun Besar Kereta Api Medan, the train station located in the downtown Medan! The trip? It is undoubtedly superb; the view also magnificent with the rice paddy surrounds you.The railway.About to board the train.Inside the train.Typical view while riding the train.
Once you have arrived in Medan, you can choose your hotel based on your budget. As one of the important business centre in Indonesia, Medan also has various hotels, from low-budget hostels to five-star hotels, such as Aryaduta Hotel and JW Marriot. I usually stay at Swiss Belinn near the Selat Panjang, the mecca of Medan’s hawker-food and Hotel 61 near Medan Plaza and Medan Fair.
After taking a shower at the hotel, you are definitely welcomed to explore Medan; by using your private or public transportation. I cannot resist trying Betor, a modified public transportation that combining motorcycle and tricycles as one. You can easily find Betor in Medan; it is a common public transportation for sure. You can hire, either for one-time-trip-only or half-day-trip. Riding Betor is such an unforgettable experience, particularly for not an adrenaline junkie, since the driver sometimes drives carelessly.Riding a Betor. No, it was not me in the picture. It was the driver.
Okay, now we’re talking about the tourist places in Medan. I basically voted Istana Maimoon (Maimoon Palace), as the top on the list of Medan’s sightseeing. Maimoon Palace, which is dominated by yellow color, originally was built by the Sultanate of Deli in 1888. The palace itself has about 30 private rooms and only one room which is the living room (hall) is open to the public. In that living room you can see the Sultanate Deli’s throne, and is usually used for the coronation ceremony of Sultan Deli or other traditional ceremonies. Oh by the way, the current Sultan, Sultan Aria Mahmud Lamanjiji, was only eight when he was coronated as the 14th Sultan in 2005, for replacing his father who died in a plane accident. About 100 metres from the palace, there is the Masjid Raya (Grand Mosque), the largest and one of the oldest mosques in Medan. According to the tour guide in the palace, there is a secret bunker that links the palace to Masjid Raya, but it can only be used by the royal family. For other tourist sites in Medan, you can pay a visit to Tjong A Fie Mansion at Kesawan Street, the Annai Velangkanni (Catholic Shrine with Tamil Hindu-style architecture), Merdeka Walk, and also the beautiful Dutch-colonial buildings in Kesawan area.
Feeling tired and hungry? Don’t worry (again), Medan can fulfill your appetite and will definitely surprise you with its local cuisines. First stop is of course Tip Top Restaurant at Ahmad Yani Street, this restaurant is originally established in 1920’s and the food choices are of course brings our memory back to the Dutch colonization. The most favourite food is Ox-tongue Steak, it costs about Rp 65,000. The Ox-tongue Steak is tender, juicy, and undeniably delicious. You can also choose various desserts, from the Dutch-origin ice cream, such as Moorkop Ice Cream, bitter-ballen and chocolate cakes. The foods have nostalgic flavour sticking on every bite. Oh, there is a live music too in the weekend for entertaining the customers.Tip Top Restaurant.
For you who would like to eat pork, oh la la, Medan has every kind of dishes made of pork, from grilled to fried. One of the famous restaurants that serves pork dishes is Ondo Batak Grill. I ordered tanggo-tanggo (the Batak’s curry pork), the grilled pork, and martabe (tamarillo or dutch-eggplant) juice. Oh, don’t forget to order their cassava-leaves curry and andaliman sauce. All are good! If you would like to taste more traditional Bataknese pork, go to nearby lapo (stall) in Medan, such as Lapo Roma. For you who would like to try Karonese pork or well known as babi panggang karo, go to nearby BPK stall, such as BPK Tesalonika or BPK Ola Kisat in Padang Bulan’s area.Ondo Batak Grill, tanggo-tanggo, and martabe. Yummies!!!
Isn’t enough? Just go straight to Selat Panjang area, where you can find many hawker-food stalls from Chinese-Hokkien noodle to Indonesian and Chinese traditional cakes. For you who love durian, the heaven’s fruit, kindly pay a visit to Ucok Durian, a-24-hour stall that sells durian. You can eat as much as you can!
Oh, how 24 hours will not enough to explore Medan, but it is short enough to leave you wanting more to come to Medan. (fst)