Forgive me God of backpacking, for I have sinned...

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October 29th 2012
Published: October 30th 2012
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Hotel pool area
Dear travel Lord,

There comes a point in a backpacker's odyssey when the knots in his back and dirt under his finger nails come together and demand a higher standard of accommodation. With a bag full of stinky clothes and the anticipation for a soft mattress, I stroll up (going comando no less) to the counter at the Cambridge Swissbel 5-star hotel in Medan.

"I have a reservation for three nights," I say as a member of staff hands me a complimentary fresh-squeezed pineapple juice.

"Of course," the receptionist responds then informs me about in-room dining, the spa, and pool.

"Enjoy your stay, sir."

Recuperation and relaxation here I come!

I arrived in Medan by a small van twisting and turning once again through the mountain curves. My driver and his buddy chain smoking the entire four-hour trip. I breathe in heaps of secondhand smoke. Gasping, I reach to put down the van window, stick my face outside, and inhale deeply into my lungs (not air) but a cloud of exhaust. *coughs then turns green* Needless to say, I nearly kissed the receptionist at the hotel when we arrived, if for no other reason than
Praying statue...Praying statue...Praying statue...

...near sauna.
the guaranteed hot shower and clean comfort that awaited me ten floors up. After throwing my bag down and collapsing into the angelic sheets, I may or may not have ordered room service...three the first night... And I also may or may not have ordered French wine too (Oops). Now, c'mon! You can't judge me too much, I mean I have been extremely under budget; spending only 10-15 USD per day in Indonesia (for EVERYTHING) so... I think that justifies my actions. So yeah...

Medan has about 2 million residents (3 million if you include work commuters). There's a lot of dust, dirt, car smoke, and noise pollution. It's kind of how you'd imagine most Southeast Asian capitals to be. A little hazy, A little grungy. As you can imagine, I'm finding it slightly difficult to leave the mini palace I've checked in to.

The next day...

So my lazy butt sleeps until lunchtime. I get up feeling like I've been resurrected and grab some Indian food for lunch. Then, I may or may not have... *You know what? No! I'm not going to say "may or may not" anymore. I'm fully admitting to the rest of my lavish indulgences.* You know what i did? I spent half a day at the spa. Yep! Sure did. And it was FANTASTIC. Swedish massage, aromatherapy, sauna, hot tub. I followed that with a swim in the hotel pool. And then I treated myself to a gourmet dinner buffet (with a chocolate fondue fountain no less). And to top it ALL off... Room service. Oh yeah! You bet your derrière I ordered room service again! Apple pie a la mode to be exact. Heaven. And I gobbled it all up in my huge comfy bed while watching A Nightmare on Elm Street. Whew!... I feel like this has become less of a blog and more of a confessional.

The day after that...

A Groundhog Day of sorts. Basically I repeated all of yesterday's events, only I did them today. Just replace the Indian food with a cheese burger, the apple pie with a filet mignon, and A Nightmare on Elm Street with Arachnophobia, and there you have it! I gave in to temptation and ordered room service twice again today. At this point I feel no better than Judas himself...

So, how about those people who

Swissbel Hotel
claim to travel the world and then barely step foot outside of their hotels? I used to give one of my friends crap for this style of travel. He liked going to island resorts. He'd spend the whole vacation within the premises of the resort, only leaving the hotel to get back to the airport with a rum hangover and a crispy tan. I'd always argue that this style of traveling (though relaxing) prevents a true understanding of the place visited. It creates a lack of authenticity and experience. Well, as much as I still believe this to be accurate, I find I'm understanding better now the appeal of wanting to lock yourself inside a haven for a few days where all is simply easier and more comfortable, and easier... also cleaner. Did I mention easier? Anyway...

Backpacking is invigorating! But it's also challenging... physically and mentally. It can really take it out of you and punch you square in the nose too. Lugging heavy bags, bumpy roads, hard beds, filth, getting lost, etc. Which is why I suppose I sort of needed a vacation from my vacation... Now I'm feeling nothing short of rejuvenated and quite ready for
Room service?Room service?Room service?

Don't mind if I do!
the next leg of my trip. If it's not too taboo, may I devilishly suggest to my fellow long-term backpackers out there: Take a couple days (if your budget allows) and INDULGE as I did. Though sinful, I think you'll see it's a successful means to refreshing the mind, body, and soul as you transition into the next leg of your journey.

In the name of the masseuse, the spa, and the holy room service,


Additional photos below
Photos: 6, Displayed: 6


The pristine waters...The pristine waters...
The pristine waters...

...that flow through town.

30th October 2012

Your friend
Your friend is a genius! You should listen to him more! ;)
30th October 2012

5 stars and roomservice
I taught you well! :P
30th October 2012

God of backpacking?
I think, people stay in budget places to make their travel funds stretch. There is no God of backpacking. At least, that is how it is for me, but maybe there are others out there appeasing a God of backpacking.
30th October 2012

The Gods have forgiven you.
Thanks for the laugh. Enjoy the road. A there are times when you need to sleep in a comfortable clean bed.
10th November 2012

Much deserved!
We are so proud of you! Keep on soaking it all up! (I'll drop you a note soon. Promise.)
20th November 2012

Did You also visit Lake Toba & Samosir Island ..??
Hei Guys, I really enjoy reading your blog & absolutely that was a great experiences,i've red it all ,but i couldn't even find your story about 'Lake Toba & Samosir Island" Did you also visit Lake Toba ?? Or You didn't ? if Yes,tell us please ,how was your feeling when you were there ??
22nd November 2012

Thanks and yes...
I did go to Toba and it's one of my favorite places on the planet now. I wrote an entry on my time there, you can read it here:

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