By Giovanni, Voluntourist.
What do you think of when I say street food? Bangkok? Penang? Saigon? Well, make sure you add Medan to that list. Mouth-watering dishes can be found at every corner here. One of the best places to experience the local cuisine is Jalan Semarang, packed with Chinese food stalls. The long ride through potholes to get there is totally worth it, as the food is authentic and delicious, and there are plenty of choices. The other day I tried fried snake. The streets of Medan also abound with some of the freshest and most unique tropical fruits in the world. My favourite is terong belanda, but I also can’t resist a sweet avocado/chocolate or a thirst-quenching sirsak.
Though I have been on an eating rampage since I touched land in Sumatra, this week I got the chance to burn some of those calories too. On Sunday, a group of our students took me for an early-morning jogging session in Merdeka Walk, where we also got to dance and hit the playground. Wednesday was a public holiday, and I played football with Sahat and some of the boys. Much sweat but great fun indeed!
The work-life balance is good here at IHF Medan. I usually spend my mornings to prepare learning/game activities for the students, whereas I help with English classes in the evenings. Weekends are mostly free, and I have been exploring the city center on foot. Two of the most important landmarks in Medan are the Grand Mosque and the Maimoon Palace, both built by the Sultan between the 19th-20th centuries and combining several architectural styles. I felt like a celebrity visiting the palace, as countless locals asked to take photos or videos with me.
Medan may not be listed as a tourist destination on most travel guides, but it is filled with truly Indonesian character, and I am enjoying every minute of it!