Saturday, April 27, 2013

Central Post Office, Medan

Whenever I visit a foreign country, I would try to visit the post office there whenever possible to get some first day cover as memento.

Kantor Pos Medan, or Medan Post Office, is located along Jalan Balai Kota, Medan, across the City Hall. A great colonial building, it was built from 1909 to 1911. The structure is domed shape and it is decorated with stained glass windows and chandelier.

A beautiful architectural piece in Medan not to be missed. If you are a philately enthusiast, do pay a visit there for some philately products, perhaps?

Merdeka Walk, Medan

The hottest spot in Medan - The Merdeka Walk. Situated in Jalan Balai Kota, Medan, it's where you can hang out in the evening, either to dine or to just have a stroll.

Historically, this was the place where the Republic of Indonesia officially proclaimed its independence in 1945.

Inspired by alfresco outdoor dining concept, there are various cafes and restaurants offering varieties of food.

There's a game centre there, so it's not just foods in Merdeka Walk. There are also stalls selling DVDs, shoes and soft toy, to name a few.

If you have no other plans in the evening while you are in Medan, this is where you might want to head to.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hotel Santika Dyandra, Medan

Hotel Santika Dyandra is a new 4-star hotel in Medan, hence everything is still nice and clean. It is located in a convenient location, with shopping malls and food courts within walking distance from the hotel. Merdeka Walk is just a 15-minutes walk from the hotel.

Breakfast buffet food selection is good, and the taste is good too.

Hotel lobby
Swimming pool
However, during my stay there, when someone rings the bell of the next room, we can hear it clearly from our room. Also, when nearby rooms close the door, it can be heard very clearly. Have included these comments in the feedback form, hence hopefully the hotel management will improve on this area.

Overall, it is a pleasant stay for us in this hotel :)

Bika Ambon and Lapis Legit, Medan

Talking about local delicacy, Bika Ambon and Lapis Legit are local cakes not to be missed. Our tour guide brought us to this shop located at Jalan Sekip, Medan to buy some of these.

Bika Ambon, or honey cake as told by the tour guide, is widely known as specialty cake of Medan. Ingredients used to make this local delicacy include tapioca and sago flour, eggs, sugar and coconut milk.

Lapis Legit, a Dutch-Indonesian layer cake, is made from ingredients such as egg yolks, butter and sugar. Lapis Legit literally means very rich layer cake.

As I prefer Bika Ambon more, hence I have only bought this. Well, Lapis Legit is too rich for me :)

Bika Ambon

Otten Coffee House, Medan

If you love coffee, and would like to get some coffee bean or powder, Otten Coffee House is the place to go to. Located at Jalan Kruing, Medan, you can also have freshly brewed coffee here.

On sale are varieties of local coffee - Kopi Medan, Aceh Gayo, Sidikalang and Danau Toba, just to name a few. Of course, the popular Kopi Luwak, or civet coffee, is also available here.

Kopi luwak
Would not have discovered this place if not for our tour guide, indeed another added bonus to my last trip to Medan :)

Medan Mall, Medan

For shopaholics out there, or anyone looking to do some retail therapy while you are in Medan, there is a couple of shopping malls in Medan.

The newer ones are Cambridge City Square, Sun Plaza, Medan Fair Plaza and Grand Palladium Mall. Older malls include Medan Mall and Thamrin Plaza.

As I don't really fancy shopping when I travel abroad, except for Hong Kong of course, I didn't go to all the malls in Medan. Having said that, I did stop by at Medan Mall to have a look. Getting used to the bigger malls in Malaysia, Medan Mall is a relatively much smaller shopping mall.

Central Pasar is connected to Medan Mall, and can be easily accessed via Medan Mall.

Central Pasar

Vihara Gunung Timur, Medan

Vihara Gunung Timur, a Taoist temple, is the oldest temple in Medan. It is located at Jalan Hang Tuah, and overlooks the Babura River.

Despite being an old temple, it is well taken care of. Not a huge temple, but still worth a visit when you are in Medan. If you wish to worship or pray when you are in the temple, incense sticks are available at a small donation for the upkeep of the temple. Amount of donation is really up to you.

Grand Seraton Seafood Restaurant, Medan

Back to Medan, and it's lunch time. Time for food again. We had our lunch in Grand Seraton Seafood Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant located in Jalan Gajah Mada, Medan.

The food in this restaurant is pretty fine, taste of which more towards those that you get from typical Chinese restaurants that used to cater for banquet functions. I prefer the food in Restoran M&R though, but again, taste bud is a very individual thing.

Crab meat soup
Green vegetable with sambal
Kung po chicken
Stir fried vegetable with Japanese tofu
Minced meat and vegetable roll

Central Fruit Market, Berastagi

Berastagi is known for its busy markets, hence where else to head to, but to the local markets. Fresh vegetables and fruits produce, flowers and souvenirs - you can get all these from the local markets.

Locally grown passion fruit, known as Marquisa, is probably the most famous fruit. Besides that, one can also get sweet oranges, buah salak, strawberries and mangoes, to name a few.

Was told that you can still get the same fruits and vegetables in those local markets in Medan, but of course not as fresh as those in Berastagi local markets. Well, which is pretty true, where else to get fresher stuffs than where the source is :)

Puncak Gundaling, Berastagi

There are 2 active volcanoes close to Berastagi - Mount Sibayak and Mount Sinabung. For the adventurous ones, they can climb these mountains to have a great view of sunrise. Sinabung last erupted in 2010, after laying dormant for over 400 years.

For those less adventurous, or those who opt not to climb instead, they can still have a view of both volcanoes from Puncak Gundaling. Puncak Gundaling, a hill overlooking Berastagi and both volcanoes, is located right in the centre of Berastagi.

During my visit, the weather wasn't that great, and hence could not get a very good view of both volcanoes from Puncak Gundaling.

View on top of the hill overlooking Berastagi and Mount Sinabung
Covered tents are available for rental for those who wish to have a picnic at the top of the hill. There are stalls selling foods and drinks, as well as shops selling souvenirs. Horse rides are also available there.

Picnic sites
Horse rides
*  Gundaling = A "mispronunciation" of "Goodbye, darling" :p

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hotel Sibayak, Berastagi

Berastagi, located 70km from Medan, is a small town, yet busier than Parapat. Berastagi is famous for its fresh vegetables and locally grown passion fruit produce. There are 2 active volcanoes close to Berastagi, namely Mount Sibayak and Mount Sinabung.

Temperature in Berastagi can be a bit low in the evening, hence it is advisable to bring along a sweater/sweatshirt.

Hotel Sibayak is a 4-star resort situated in the highlands of Berastagi. Tranquility is the word that I would use to describe my impression towards the resort. A place for traveler to seek total relaxation. Besides that, what I also like about this resort is the various flowers grown there - just lovely!

Sipisopiso Waterfall

Sipisopiso is a plunge waterfall in the Batak highlands of Sumatra. Sipisopiso, which means "like a knife", is a narrow waterfall that drops 120 metres into an impressive gorge below. It is formed by a small underground river of the Karo Plateau, and flows out into the Lake Toba caldera. It is also the highest waterfall in Indonesia.

Besides the waterfall, nearby vantage point also offers great view of the waterfall as well as the end of Lake Toba. A gorgeous and beautiful view not to be missed :)

Lake Toba as viewed from the North side

Rumah Bolon, Simalungun

One can have a view of Rumah Bolon, the ethnic Batak Simalungun's traditional house, in Simalungun, along the way from Parapat to Berastagi.

Bolon means big, and it can house a few families in it. In the past, Rumah Bolon was the royal residence. The Rumah Bolon that we visited is about 400 years old. The descendants of the kings no longer live there, however, they do live nearby.

There are some basic furnishings and musical instruments on display in the Rumah Bolon.

14 kings had ruled prior to Indonesia's independence