By: Маgus Kutabarat –
Billy Bob arrived at Kuala Namu feeling excited and enthusiastic to be in North Sumatra. In two weeks time, he was to begin a job as environmental program consultant for a NGO based in Siantar, but he wanted a holiday first. His previous visit to Indonesia had been a holiday in Bali, but he wanted to experience more about this diverse country.
When he walked outside the airport to the train to Medan, his first impression was the aromatic smell of kretek cigarettes. This, he remembered, was the smell of Indonesia and it made him happy to be back.
On the train ride the first word he learned was ‘horas’ from a local Batak man. It reminded him of ‘hola’ in Spanish and ‘horus’, the mythical sky god.
Medan was hot and noisy, but Billy Bob thought it was a typical old style Asian city with more character than most modern Asian cities. He took a becak ride around town and noticed that many churches were built close to mosques.
His supir told him, “everyone tolerant, everyone social, everyone happy.”
He visited the Masjid Raya and was invited inside. The architecture and mosaic style of the mosque was impressive.
He liked the Pusat Pasar which was more interesting than the modern shopping plaza. Markets show more about a culture than any other place, but he kept his wallet safely in his front pocket.
He discovered many different fruits and he particularly liked the buah naga and of course, the durian. At a Padang restaurant, he tried the beef rendang and liked its spicy sambal.
Many people spoke a little bit of English, and young girls wanted a photo with him. This would never happen to a stranger in the west. Some were Christian and some were Muslim, but they mixed together.
Billy Bob was ready to visit the jungle, so he decided to go to Bukit Lawang. (to be continued)