Our old yellow minibus stops and everything around sinks into an unbearable quienscency. It is hard to endure, not because of impatience to get through all these kilometres of traffic. It is because of an unbearable heat. In this moment I am not able to concentrate on anything else, except sweat dripping from every part of my body. I would do anything now, to feel a blow of this poluted, dusty air on my skin. The same one, which was so annoying, only a few momentes ago. I am about to faint any minute now. My face is wet and sticky from the city air. Car moves another few meters and a new wave of horns fills the air. I begin my own private meditation, observing how my brain erases this madness around me. People, cars, rikshaws and hundreds of motorbikes. You wanted to see REAL world, REAL Indonesia, remember? I am here, in the middle of real Indonesia, taking part in a regular daily life, thinking- how people manage to deal with that every day?? If I was a regular tourist, I would probably say something like- to hell with this! And take an air-conditioned taxi to my air-conditioned hotel room. But how can I understand Indonesian people without joining them, even if only for one day? I am in Medan, the largest Indonesian city outside of Java. I came here on a plane from Malaysia, ready to discover Indonesian life. Medan is full of it, pulsating, raging, manifesting on every corner. Its busy streets are nothing like modern Kuala Lumpur. It’s history dates back to 1st July 1590 when it was founded by Guru Patimpus Sembiring Pelawi, who converted a local forest area into a small village, and called it Medan. This day has been marked as a date of Medan Anniversary. Since the 16th century Medan was a Sultanate. The opening of Suez Canal in 1869 meant strongly intensified traffic between Europe and Far East. Many European countries sent their ships to Sumatra. In Medan, there were planters from England, Neatherlands, USA, France, Germany, Poland and Switzerland. Majority of them became very rich. Medan was known as Paris of Sumatra at that time. Still today, there is an area of town called Polonia. A name was given by a Polish aristocrat who once owned a plantation here. In 1942 a Japanese invavion began throughout Indonesia. Japanese troops occupied Medan till 1945. After Independance of Indonesia on 17th of August, Medan has become one of the busiest cities in a country. Now, its busy streets and traffic can be exadurating. However I have found some peacefull oasis in all this turmoil. In a noisy city centre, there are old buildings which remind visitors about rich history of Medan. The city was categorised as one of the six cities in Asia which has many buldings rich of its history and culture, such as Medan Capitol Building or Maimoon Palace. Built in years 1887- 1891, mixing the elements of Malay cultural heritage, Islam, Spanish, Indian and Italian style, it is a popular venue among tourists here.
Another one is a Great Mosque of Medan. Built in Moroccan style during the Dutch East Indies era, has its own tranquil feel, characteristic for old temples.
The most impressive for me is an old Chinese mansion built 1860- 1921 by Tjong A Fie. He was a merchant, owned a significant part of Medan land through his plantations. The mansion has a true Chinese feel and you can get lost wandering around its many rooms.
What is more, after you finish sightseeing, right in front of a mansion, you can find local’s favourite spot. Cafe ‘Tip top’ is famous for its cakes and ice cream, but it also serves lunch, diner and traditional Indonesian food.