Sumatra's big one

Medan Travel Blog

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I spent several months in Medan doing my thesis research, so I really got to know the city from the backstreets first before I visited its tourist attractions. Even though I like the city, I admit it has a lot of unattractive elements to it. There is some violent crime, air pollution is horrible, and a general impression from the street level is that the city is pretty dirty. Those things aside, Medan offers its residents some of the best shopping and mix of food on the whole island. The cultural mix here, in general, is impressive and gives Medan a lot of character that is lacking in more monotonous cities (no names). Aside from the Batak groups and the usual suspects (Javanese, Sundanese, and Minangkabau), Medan hosts an ethnic Chinese population that has not been assimilated like those found on Java, and a Tamil Indian population. Shopping in Medan is good, and there are a number of malls and plazas. More recently, a luxury mall was built, and the area around the central padang (used for political speeches or playing soccer in the mud) has been turned into a neon-lighted, outdoor food court that stretches the entire length of the padang on the side closest to the main post office. I was impressed with Medan's development in recent years.

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photo by: inikeke