STORY OF MEDAN
A BRASH BLEND OF OLD AND NEW
With a population of over 2 million, Medan is Sumatra’s major metropolis and a city noted for its full- on Indonesian character. The city was officially founded on 1st July 1590 by Guru Patimpus, a Karonese man who named the confluence of the Deli River and Babura River as Kampung Medan Putri (Medan Putri village). In 1632, the Deli Sultanate was established by Tuanku Gocah Pahlawan and in the 18th century, the eighth king, Sultan Mahmud Al Rasyid Perkasa Alam began a relationship with Jacob Nienhuys, a Dutch tobacco merchant who pioneered the opening of plantations that shaped, and continue to shape, the city, its people and the environment to this day.
The vast urban sprawl often reminds visitors of cities of a time lost, but in recent years it has undergone significant and rapid development with large- scale infrastructure projects, such as a new airport, seaport, elevated railroad and toll roads.
The macro economic development has resulted in increasing urban development, new housing, apartments, restaurants, office buildings and manufacturing centres and, of course, new shopping malls. Medan, perhaps once viewed as an old- style city is today at the cutting edge of spatial development and is one of Indonesia’s most impressive beacons of 21st century growth.
PLANTATIONS, NATURE AND CULTURE
Located along the north eastern coast of Sumatra and significantly closer to Kuala Lumpur than Jakarta, the city is surrounded by a mix of manmade greenery, such as plantations, rice fields and smaller fruit and vegetable producing farms. To the west and northwest there are mountains blanketed in rainforest, including Gunung Leuser National Park, a popular place for trekking and home to wild orangutans, leopards and elephants, while just 60 km to the south discover the beauty and mysticism of the Lake Toba caldera, where visiting Tuk Tuk on the lake’s inner island is one of the undisputed highlights of Sumatra.
The orangutan rehabilitation centre in Bukit Lawang was built in 1973 and is a place tourists can interact with and learn about helping our endangered cousins.
Back in the city and housed in a charming traditional building, the Museum of North Sumatra has a collection of early North Sumatran artefacts from the Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic periods, to Dutch colonial- era and military history. There are also sections depicting traditional occupations such as fishing and farming. Other highlights include fine stone carvings and extravagantly carved wooden dragon coffins, fine textiles and a collection of traditional daggers.
Local cuisine, like most Indonesian food, can be spicy. Combined with the richness of coconut milk and extensive use of spices, Medanese cuisine offers some of the spiciest and most flavoursome dishes in the whole of Indonesia both on the street and in its numerous restaurants. For those seeking an alternative, the choice is large and varied, from paella to pizzas and sushi to steaks; Medan has plenty to offer hungry diners.