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Published: March 4th 2015
After giving up on the totally unreliable bus service, I got a taxi to the airport for my flight at 11.20 to Indonesia. The flight took 30 minutes and because of the time difference we landed at 11.00! After paying for a 30 day visa on arrival which was £15 and a bit of a grilling from an official - anyone would think they would want visitors here! I was let through, walking through the airport a chap approached from a tour agency offering to take me into the centre of medan - about an hr away and costing 275,000 rupiah, at this point I didn't really know of any other option so I took him up on it, later finding out that it cost roughly £16 so not completely ripped off. The man came in the car as well as a driver - he spoke very good English so we chatted until we got to my hotel, his name is Samuel, he said he also works for the police as an English teacher and plays in a band, that he was playing in tonite and if I wanted he would pick me up and take me to see it. All this after meeting someone after 30 minutes left me feeling a little unnerved and on edge, but also that he could just be generally friendly. Samuel waited with me until I was booked in which came as huge help as the hotel staff spoke very little English and had no record of my booking! I showed them the evidence on my phone and with Samuel translating they still looked confused, however I got a room and it wasn't mentioned again, so I guess it got sorted. After unpacking and heading down to reception to ask how I would get to the centre of medan a man in his 30's called Raymond offered to take me on the back of his motorbike - he was also at reception delivering a letter. Again I didn't know of any other option so off we went - his English was a bit broken but ok to get by. The traffic doesn't seem to have a system here - just try not to hit anything - no lanes, no sides, no helmets, no give way, ignore traffic lights and some of the roads - even in a city being unmade - so makes for interesting journeys! Raymond was a careful driver so I felt safe, first stop was to a van parked at the side of the road selling sim cards, then to another van to get credit - both stationary and advertising so completely legal - why pay for the overheads of a shop if you don't have to! Next stop was to a karaoke bar ( seems the thing to do on a Saturday pm in medan) where raymond was meeting some of his friends who had all hired a room - so 5 really nice guys and me - not singing! Ordering food and drinks and not expecting any money off me spent a nice evening - swopped names with a couple of guys to be facebook friends with. Raymond took me back to the hotel and we said our goodbyes - a real genuine nice guy who again accepted no money from me - was just happy to help. Relaxing in my room for a couple of hours I rang Samuel and took him up on the offer of seeing his band - he picked me up at 10pm with an American girl and off we went to the tavern. After watching 3 different bands each with 4 vocalists and standing next to Sam who chain smokes I was starting to feel pretty tired - next band was Sam's or so we thought - he doesn't actually play in the band just goes up on stage and sings - badly a couple of songs - most in broken English - so at least we can tell what he's meant to be saying! The bands themselves were very good singing a mixture of English and Indonesian songs. As we got the bill the bar was trying to overcharge Elsie for her drinks and sam was trying to sneakily make me pay for his - I flatty refused - not appreciating it and asking if we could leave - Elsie did the same. It has left a bit of a sour taste, but generally had been a good day and I had met some really nice people.
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