Dream and Dine - - Story Of Medan -


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.


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.

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