Medan Trip (2017) AKA Palah’s Best Friends Trip

BY Palah Chingu

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31/3/2017 ( Bad Luck and Uncertainty)

One of my dreams that I managed to accomplish is to bring all my best friends in a trip together. Aside from the original ‘3 chinguz’ as stated in the wordpress consists of Ruby and Fatma, I’ve another 3 bestfriends (Min, Ika and Jib) whereby I met them during my bachelor and master degree study. The trip was impossible at first but we made it happen. We encountered so many challenges. I swear to God, I was pissed off. Our flights got cancelled a day before and Air Asia did nothing except emailing us the cancellation in the middle of the night. Besides, Min was already having a bad feeling over this trip as she missed the bus to Kuala Lumpur in the first place. She’s a bit superstitious over certain things and she’s not wrong though, we got the cancellation notification that night. Ika and I were worried that we may detain at immigration due to our student loan issue (PTPTN). There are so many cases of PTPTN borrowers failed to pay back their loan and blacklisting them from going overseas is one of the methods used by the institution to ensure the debt is paid. I just quit my job at that time and my loan was overdue for 3 months. Ika, on the other hands, just started paying it back after she got a stable job. In addition to that,  Jibah suffered diarrhea and she’s not yet recovered from it.

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1/4/2017 (From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Medan, Indonesia)

Air Asia did bring us to our destination but their customer service is so frustrating. The care line for call is only for certain flights and in order to get another flight, we had to contact them via a live chat. I don’t really sleep that night especially after reading that our flight got cancelled last minute. I woke up early that morning and try contacting them using the live chat right away. Internet connection has been testing my patience past few days and on that fucking morning, it began again. Jibah and I tried to contact it until one of us get through Air Asia. After one hour, we managed to reschedule the flight and the trip was back on. I was spamming the shit out of Air Asia Facebook Page for their unprofessionalism (I knew I was being petty but man that feels good though). We didn’t inform Ruby regarding the cancellation but it was funny on how ruby found out about it. It was indeed chaotic morning and fatma called her sister to rant about this shit. Her sister then posted it on facebook and since we already knew each other for more than 9 years, we do add each other certain family members. Ruby read the post and felt pity about the cancelled flight and realized it in a split second that was ours. We regroup back in Jibah’s house and get ready to go to KLIA 2. I was feeling uneasy but in my mind (if I did get detain), my plan is to stay back in KL for few days and return to Johor right away. We were satisfied with the replacement flight as all of us got hot seats so thank you Air Asia for that. We arrived at Medan Airport around 6.30.

 

There’s another setback I face right away after landed. I was so excited that we’re finally made it there safely so I took a few pictures. I forgot that immigration area is a no go area for photograph. I got called out and my passport was taken by immigration officer. The funny thing that I was so afraid I got detained in Malaysia’s immigration office but I didn’t but when in Medan, I got held up. The officer was so harsh and the treatment I got with other tourists was so different truth be told; maybe because they are Caucasians and I am Asian. As an Asian, I did recognize that we do have the symptom of idolizing white people. I don’t want to prolong this matter so I apologized few times saying I was overexcited and the rules skipped over my head. He was not satisfied with that answer if I was to be honest but he let me go with a warning. My mood was spoiled a bit due to that situation. We bought a sim card so that it’s easier to use GrabCar Service. We used GrabCar Service to our hotel right away. The night was approaching and all of us were so tired. We faced so many things on the first day and we just want to have dinner and sleep afterwards. We stayed at Hotel Kesawan for 4 nights in Medan. The hotel was okay (it was old hotel and they have all basic facilities) if you were to go out whole day and only come back just to sleep. Some people might be a little picky about where they are going to spend their night but luckily, all my best friends were not really fussy about it.

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Medan Kualanamu International Airport (Inside)
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Medan Kualanamu International Airport (outside)
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Finally arrived at Hotel Kesawan, Medan 🙂

2/4/2017 (2nd Day in Medan, Indonesia)

 Penangkaran Buaya Asam Kumbang

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Penangkaran Buaya Asam Kumbang

We found out that our actual ‘supir’ outsource the service to another ‘supir’ and we ended up being hauled to the place that we didn’t even want to go. Heed my warning, if you go to medan, make sure that you will not facing this kind of experience. Besides, if you’re using ‘supir’ or tourist guide when you are traveling to Indonesia, make sure to be firm with them regarding your list of destinations. They get a big tip by the owner if they bring tourists to their place. This park is not in our itinerary at all. We felt angry when he brought us here. All of us already discussed before doing our itinerary. We said no to any animal’s park because we can’t bear to see they are being confined in a small space and can’t even move their body. To cut short, this is horrible experience so don’t go there. The entrance fee was so expensive and the place is not very well maintained.

 Velangkani Medan

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Velangkani Church By Fatma

This is a beautiful church. If you are in medan, put it in a must visit list. The architecture of this place is heavily influence of Hinduism and Catholicism. It was so colorful. There is no mass when we arrived as it was Sunday. That’s a relief so no awkwardness to walk around and enter the church. The interior is breathtaking. Some ceilings and walls of the church are filled with bible scripture. I do want to point out that they refer God as ALLAH. It’s similar to us in Islam. Meanwhile in Malaysia, certain group of Muslim is fighting to ensure only Muslims can use ALLAH word. We never visit church in Malaysia and not we that we don’t want to but coming from a very conservative Malay Muslim society, it was too controversial. The close proximity of Islam and Christian religion shared made it hard to do so. We did visit Buddhist and Hindu temples but never had we got to visit church. We did visit this place so we guess we can cross visit the church off from our list.

Istana Maimun Sultan Deli

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Sunday is not the right day to visit this palace. It was packed and you can’t even appreciate its exterior beauty and interior design. There are traditional performance held outside Istana Maimun and you can sit there just to enjoy it (they prepared few seats for tourists). You can even try the traditional malay attire as there are few businesses cater for it is set up in the palace. If you go there during weekend, there is high probability you may see many couples poses and take pictures in the attire.

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Ayam Penyet Cendelaras Station (Lunch)

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We had delicious ‘Ayam Penyet’ here. If you’re nearby, don’t skip this restaurant.

Museum Negeri Propinsi Sumatera Utara

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If you’re museum goers and love history, we suggested spending for about an hour here. They covered many historical aspects in Indonesia. The place is big but some of the section, they didn’t turn on the AC so prepared to be drenched in sweat like we did.

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Vihara Gunung Timur

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It’s the largest Chinese Taoism temple in the middle of Medan. The temple design is made to face Babura River as Chinese believe it will bring a good luck. Our trip did need a lot of luck at that time for sure so we stopped by. Haha. This temple consists of 80 deities and considered as one of the famous historical sites in Medan. Don’t skip this temple because it has magnificent exterior design.

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Tjong A fie Mansion

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This place is so close with our hotel. This mansion belongs to a Hakka merchant name Tjong A fie. He was a very successful businessman and a very rich man in Medan long time ago. This mansion is an embodiment of his wealth, family and history. We have a tour guide while visiting the mansion and he told us the history of Tjong A fie . The mansion is spacious and filled with lots of antiques that has been preserved for tourism purpose.

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Restoran Tip Top Medan (Dinner)

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The food was okay but it’s a bit overpriced. We saw high ratings given by past customers and decided to try it. Their homemade ice cream is delicious though but this is strictly my opinion as some of my friends hated it.

3/4/2017 (Third Day in Medan, Indonesia)

Maha Vihara Maitreya / Vihara Cemara Asri Medan

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It is referred as Vihara Cemara Asri because it is located in a housing complex of Cemara Asri. This Buddhist temple has a huge hall for praying.  We spotted 3 big statues in the hall. We strolled around the complex for about an hour before we resume our journey. In a nutshell, this temple has beautiful garden, captivating paintings on the wall and spectacular statues is displayed at certain parts of the temple.

Kolam Bangau Cemara Asri

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This was not in our itinerary. We passed by the lake accidentally and decided to stop by. The lake is enormous. I’m sure this lake specifically for Egrets / Storks as I couldn’t spot any other species at all. They can fly and come back whenever they want. At the end of the lake, there’s a birdhouse for pigeon nearby the lake.

Masjid Raya Al Osmani (Old Mosque)

IMG20170403111851This is an old mosque and it was built in 1854. The structure of the mosque originally only using wood material but it has been going through several restorations. However the original architecture remains. The Combination of green and color make it look radiant from distance away and beautiful up close. We took time to gaze the beauty of an old design and wandering around the mosque. Its 20 km from Medan City but since we came from Vihara Cemara Asri, the journey was quite far. The road condition didn’t really help so this is not a smooth journey to begin with. However, you could see the Medan countryside. One trend that cannot be ignored is there are many small mosques hidden away among the houses. You can see it while staring at window while enjoying the journey.

Barkah Rumah Makan (Lunch)

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This is quite delicious lunch. All the dishes served here is a traditional Medan dishes.

Museum Perjuangan TNI

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We don’t know how to describe our experience in this museum. We wanted to explore and read it by ourselves but we got invited to the briefing room. We sat in the room for about 1 hour and listened to one uncle dissing our asses for not knowing our roots and ancestors. I can’t speak for all of us because Min did not enjoy that at all but I thought it was hilarious. We managed to do a short trip to each section in the museum. This musem is a reminder of how Indonesian army fought against imperialism and the journey to independence. There are lots of antique collections in this museum to commemorate the past.  If you are a history enthusiast, visiting this museum is a must (but you better decline the invitation to be in the briefing room).

  • Kapak Bukan Sebarang Kapak,
  • Kapak Membelah Kayu,
  • Orang Batak Menjadi Melayu.

– By Random Uncle at TNI Museum

Masjid Raya Medan Al-Mashun

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This mosque was completed in 1909 and one of the oldest mosques in Medan. If you can seen in the picture is that the mosque has an octagonal shape and has wings to the south, east, north and west. That’s what makes the building unique in architectural aspects. The influence of Morocco, Turkey and Middle Eastern style can be seen on the building itself. What a stunning Mosque!

Wajir Seafood (Dinner)

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Delicious, cheap and fast was how our dinner went that day which is pretty rare for a restaurant. Unfortunately, only Fatma, Ruby and I went to have dinner there. The rest were exhausted and decided not to join.

4/4/2017 (Fourth Day in Medan, Indonesia)

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In order to reach Lake Toba, we began the journey around 7.30 am. We arrived there approximately around 12.30 pm so it took us about 5 hours. When we are planning this trip, we contacted ‘Supir Ridu’ to book for his driving service. Only on the 4th day of our trip, we managed to meet him. He is an easygoing and kind guy which is one of the reasons people recommended him. If you choose to use his service, be aware that he loves to bring tourists around Lake Toba and Brastagi area only. We are a bit disappointed as he asked other ‘supir’ to drive us around on second and third day of the trip because we choose to explore Medan city first before heading to the Lake Toba.

Gereja Katolik St. Fransiskus Asisi Berastagi

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We can’t enter the church unfortunately. It was closed at that time. We just admired the design and architecture from the outside. It is heavily influence with Batak Karo cultures and heritages which is why it is so unique looking. Batak Karo is a name of the tribe of local people who lives around the area.

 Lake Toba

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I will let the picture speaks for itself. What a beautiful lake!

– Seafood Restaurant Nearby Lake Toba (Lunch)

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Lunch on that day was an A plus ; it has fresh seafood, great lake scenery and of course, my amazing friends.

Sipisopiso Waterfall

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One of the spectacular waterfalls I’ve ever seen in my life. In order to reach the waterfall, we have to climb down more than 600 stairs (correct me if I’m wrong) just to reach the place. The thing is climbing down was easy though you have to be extra careful on the cracked and steep stairs. The problem was at that time we are not sure whether we had stamina on climbing up back 600 stairs. Min, Fatma and I agreed that we’re going to do about 150 stairs only which is a quarter of the journey. Ika and Ruby planned that they were going to do for about 300-400 stairs while Jibah decided just to stay back. You can still see the view of Sipisopiso Waterfall from above actually but I wanted to see a close up just a little bit. It was worth it. I almost died climbing up but it was so beautiful.

Brastagi Small Town (Having a coffee break)

We only stopped by solely for a Coffee Break in Brastagi Town. We don’t have time to tour around as we’re rushing to arrive at Medan city before 8.00 pm. I don’t even have time to take picture around the town. If you’re planning to go to Medan, make sure you spend the night around Brastagi or Lake toba. That’s the only regret we had as we’re not doing extensive research while planning this trip. Most people who came here spent 2 days in Medan City and 2 days in Brastagi/Lake Toba.

Wajir Seafood (Dinner)

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We came back for a second time together with our supir. Again, the service is top notch and the food is incredible. Fourth day of our trip was fun but exhausting.

5/4/2017 (Last Day in Medan, Indonesia)

Pajak Ikan Medan

I’m having flu that morning so I didn’t join the rest to do some shopping. The price at the market is not that cheap compared to Bandung. Besides, there are always some people following you asking you to buy their things even though you already say that you don’t want it. Please be extra careful as they could be a little harsh and extra pushy.

Pt Gramedia (Book store)

A security is tightened around the mall. We had to go through scanners before entering the mall. That’s the first time for us actually. In Malaysia, we only did that at the airport. Pt Gramedia is quite big. Of course, we’re overjoyed. To be honest, We’re not that familiar with Indonesian Literature but who the hell cares. We bought few books and heading back to hotel by grab car.

Off to Medan Airport

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Our flight supposed to take off around 7.30 pm but of course (classic Air Asia) our flight got delayed. We waited for about 3 hours until the plane arrived. The journey was a nightmare. The weather is so bad. This added to a list of unfortunate events we encountered in this trip. Are we that unlucky? Should I say am I that unlucky? I mean life always find a way to fuck me up somehow so I kinda used to have one bad moment at least every day. However, my best friends didn’t really deserve this. The turbulence occurred for about 10 minutes. Certain passenger in the flight didn’t help much though as they get panicked and said prayer loudly in the situation. I don’t mind the prayer but the way they chanted it loudly rendered others felt uncomfortable. It was scary. I held min’s thigh and forgot that my grip was strong. Of course after that flight, I got mocked by min for being a scaredy cat. Well, I fear death. The trip officially over after we dine at Old Town Restaurant for some midnight snacks. We still got shook over the turbulence incident after we landed in Kuala Lumpur safely but still grateful that we made it safely.

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Side Note :

  • Credit to Jibah and Fatma (some of the photos in this review are taken from them)
  • Pocket Money for the trip is well spent (despite having miscalculation of tourists entrance fees and failed to include parking fees for every place that we visit)
  • If you are planning to come to Medan, find a hotel that includes breakfast. You are saving time as you dont have to go far to find meal in the morning.
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Bintulu, Miri and Bandar Seri Begawan Trip (2016).

By Palah Chingu

“I take a picture, but it’s not about who is in the picture or the background of it. It’s about the memories and meanings it holds.” 

Kayla Davis

Date : 3 November – 7 November 2016.

Destination : Kuala Lumpur -> Bintulu ->  Miri -> Brunei -> Miri – > Bintulu -> Kuala Lumpur

*(this time we brought along other chinguzzzzz to join)*

GUA NIAH, SARAWAK

A freaking long walk is a must before we finally made it to Niah Cave. I almost died twice. This is why you should exercise, people. Once you arrived there, the feeling is indescribable. Along the journey, be prepared to immerse in magnificent view of forest and river (and cricket’s sounds too)

CHINESE TEMPLE BINTULU, SARAWAK

Not really in the plan of place we want to visit, but what the hell, right? An enormous temple, i must say and it is well preserved. It is so beautiful and peaceful at the same time. Be sure to drop by if you are around.

KAMPONG AYER, BRUNEI

The first place we visited when we reached Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. The boat took us around for about 30 – 40 minutes just to see around Kampong Ayer (Water Village if its translated in english). This is one of the main attractions if you are in Brunei. Brunei currently building the bridge to connect the people who lived there with their mainland. The school, mosque and even cafe are all built on the water. The boat ride is surely enjoyable (for me) but i’m not sure about the rest. LOL

We Nerds love history. Hence, a trip to museum is an obligation. We visited some museums, centre and mausoleum in Brunei. We also drop by to the only  chinese temple in brunei (if i’m not mistaken, forgive me if i’m wrong). The location, unfortunately is all over the place. We literally driving around and got lost too many times to find the museum . No camera is allowed at most of the places we go thus enjoy the picture of us at the entrance only.

(Side Note : No entrance fee to all of these places).

– Brunei Technology Museum

– Brunei History Centre

–  Brunei Maritime Museum

-Teng Yun Temple

– Raja Ayang Mausoleum

SULTAN OMAR ALI SAIFUDDIN MOSQUE

If you are driving around Bandar Seri Begawan, you cant miss the grand view of this mosque. During Night, the lights all around the mosque just enhance the architecture and structure of this worship place. Its just mesmerizing.

TUSAN BEACH, SARAWAK

We intend to come here and wait until the ocean glows (there are planktons presence detected that can make the ocean lights up in blue color). Unfortunately, none of us had the stamina to wait after long hours of driving and staying in car. The beach is pretty much hidden. Fatma is a hell of a driver. Driving there is quite challenging with the road condition and the absent of light, lets just say it doesnt make things easier. However, the sunset view was unforgettable.

TANJUNG BINTULU BEACH

Last stop before we went back to Kuala Lumpur is this beach. It is incomparable to  Tusan Beach but anything with amazing view is worth seeing.

 Side Notes on the trip :

Do not go to Brunei on Friday. They shut down all the business from 12.00 pm – 2.00 pm. We are so hungry that we even chase the delivery guy thinking that his restaurant might open at that time. Of course not, silly. ALL BUSINESS is OFF for 2 hours. What we do for 2 hours? We played ‘Jutaria’ game. (We didnt do the research properly, thats why we stranded  there for 2 hours without food. They put all operations on hold  for 2 hours due to Friday Prayers).

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Long hours of Driving means a lot of sleeping in the car. A LOT.

However, Fatma (The driver for this whole trip) and i (a good company, obviously, duhh) are really enjoying this long driving (well, what else can we do?)

TOO MANY PHOTOS (SORRY GUYS)

I’ll be back with more reviews on other trips that we threechinguz did. Adios!