17 May 2013

North Sumatra

I spent an intense three weeks in Medan, Indonesia's third largest city of 2 million people.
I crouched in the gutter with the smiling becak (pedicab) drivers sketching in their plumes of ubiquitous tobacco smoke making a study of the different nuances of design. 

Naturally I had to go for a ride with one -more personal than a taxi, especially being at exhaust pipe level.

I sat cross-legged in the road sketching in the heat. The owner kept coming over and checking on progress and correcting my spelling of her food signs.
Colonial style Post Office
The Grand Mesjid Raya 1906
My attempt of the same mosque but different view - back in 1997 - maybe I'm improving
Maimoen Sultan's palace - we witnessed a Royal wedding (Sultan's cousin) with dark tinted cars arriving with police escort.
Compare the one above with this crude one I drew 17 years earlier
Children in national costume in front of the Sultan's carriage.  The little guys with top hats were from Aceh up the road.  ie of tsunami and civil war fame.
City hall, now the vestibule of a hotel.  Next door is the Bank of Indonesia
Batak style house at Lake Toba, scene of the world's biggest eruption which changed the global weather for years.  An island sits in the middle of a deep crater lake.  Water buffalo horns are distinctive on the roof.

Children performing Batak dance at Toba.  Tall hats and long cushion like head gear were the order of the day.  The extended fingers meant we should place paper money in them.
Tea and coffee tasting.  We saw how they grew.

Skycaustic a delightful band at the hotel, including amplified violin.

Chef's at the hotel cook up on an oversized a wok

Tong A Fie a Chinese dignitary Medan do-gooder built this Tardis-like mansion around 1900. Cool and spacious within with pleasant courtyards.  In the surrounding streets tape recorded swallow sounds attracted the birds to build the famous nests used in in the lucrative birds nest soup.  The poor birds rarely saw a completed nest.  Normally you would see these in the caves of Borneo.

Batak garuda & monkey carving in the North Sumatra Museum.  A group of young lads attached themselves to us like limpets for the hour we were there, following our every step.

A quick dash into Singapore to catch the famous Raffles Hotel 1887.  Two doormen from the neighbouring hotel consulting on the street.  I sat cross legged in the shade next to the smoking station to escape the heat of the sun
The Medan people were friendly, the traffic frenetic but still flowed.  On our last night there was a demonstration near our hotel which extended our driving time by three times, but our driver ducked down every back alley he knew to criss-cross the city to get us home.  Most entertaining and memorable.



  1. HI got here at last!
    Brilliant work Scott

  2. Hi Liz, thanks for the feedback. Great to see you are back into Blogger and updating